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Tennis 101: Playing Points

By USTA, 06/26/17, 8:00AM CDT

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Tennis is a sport where “love” means zero and the scoring system is different for games, sets and matches. that is, it can be confusing.

Tennis is a sport where “Love” means zero and the scoring system is different for games, sets and matches. That is, it can be confusing.

Here, we’ll look at the basics of playing a point, providing a few helpful tips you can take to the court.

Playing a Point

Except when serving, you may stand anywhere – in or out of the court – on your side of the net. And with the exception of when receiving serve, you have the choice of hitting the ball on your side before it bounces (a volley) or after one bounce (a ground stroke). When receiving serve, you must let the ball bounce once before hitting it.

You win the point if you hit the ball over the net and into the court on the other side and your opponent doesn’t return it, or if your opponent returns it to your side of the court but not inside the lines.

You lose the point if you hit the ball into the net or out of the court (unless your opponent plays the ball in the air before it lands outside the court boundaries; a ball must land out of bounds to be “out”). You also lose the point if: (1) the ball touches you or your clothing; (2) if you or your racquet touch the net or the net post before the point is over; (3) if you hit the ball before it crosses the net; or (4) if you hit the ball more than once. You’re on your honor to make these calls against yourself.

A ball is still in play if it happens to touch the net or post (except on a serve). Continue to play a ball that lands on or touches a boundary line of the court. A ball that lands on any part of the line is good.