Tennis Rules for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

Unlike cricket, football, or basketball, it’s important to know the tennis rules properly. Unless you know the very basics, you won’t even understand what’s going on, and thus you might not find any interest in tennis matches. This is why every beginner must know the basic tennis rules for beginners so that they can enjoy the matches at least.

Today, we’ll talk about tennis rules that every beginner must know. We’ve tried to simplify the rules as much as possible, so even if you’re completely new to this, you won’t face any problem understanding what’s going on.

So, let’s learn tennis rules (for beginners)!

The Objective of Tennis

A Tennis court comes with multiple segments and a net. The main objective of the players is to hit the ball in a way that it lands on the opponents’ court in a way that the opponent can’t send it back. If a player can pull this off, then it’ll be counted as a score in his favor. 

However, if the ball lands outside the margins of the court, then it will be counted as a score in favor of the opponent. 


An Introduction to Tennis Courts

As we all know, Tennis matches are played on rectangular courts. There can be two types of matches, single or double. 

You’ll find Tennis courts are segmented by white lines. The line at the very back is called the baseline, and the segments closest to the net are known as service areas. This is where the service must drop. 

Finally, you’ll find two horizontal lines along the sides of the court. If it’s a singles match, then you won’t use the outer segment beyond the line. If it’s a doubles match, then you can include the outer segment in the court. 

As for surface material, there are four types of materials that are widely used. These are the clay, grass, hard surface, and carpet. In tournaments, it’s necessary to maintain one type of court throughout, as the matches will be unfair if otherwise. 

Tennis Court Dimensions

Even though the same court can be used for both single and doubles tennis, singles matches won’t utilize the entirety of the courts. This is why the dimensions of the singles courts will be shorter in practice. 

The length will be equal for both singles and doubles matches, and they will be 78 feet. When it comes to the width, the singles matches will utilize 27 feet of the court, while the doubles matches will utilize 36 feet, meaning that the outer sections beyond the trim lines will be used. 

The service lines are usually kept around 21 feet from the net on both sides. 


Tennis Equipment Specifications

The main equipments that are to be used in tennis matches are the racquets and the balls, and that is what we’re going to discuss here. 

Tennis Balls

Tennis balls come with a rubber compound build with a felt surface, and they are filled with air. According to ITF, the diameter of tennis balls should be from 6.54-6.86cm, the mass should be around 56-59.4g, and they should be either yellow or white. 

Most tennis balls come in the ‘Optic Yellow’ color which was created back in 1972. This color helps cameras detect the ball easily so viewers who are watching the game on Television can spectate properly. 

Tennis Racquets

The measurement of the racquets depends highly on the age and height of the players. We will discuss only the measurements for adults here, and the measurements of racquets suitable for kids will be discussed later on in this article. 

For adults, the size of the racquet can vary from 27 inches to 29 inches. Usually, the 27-inch length is considered to be standard. However, a person can try out extended lengths as well. 

When it comes to the performance of the racquet, there are four things to determine. These are the reach, maneuverability, power, and spin. These will help you choose the most suitable racquet for yourself.

The reach is the most obvious factor, and most people consider this knowingly or unknowingly. If a racquet can’t help you reach the ball, then it’s not suitable for you. 

Longer racquets are comparatively tougher to maneuver, which is why most adults go with the standard 27-inch ones. However, some people might have to use the extended ones for reaching further. 

While longer racquets are harder to maneuver, at the same time they offer more powerful strokes. At the same time, the potential of creating complicated spins also increases with the length of the racquet. This is why lots of people prefer using longer racquets than the standard. 

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One of the variables that are considered as one of the major factors before diving into a tennis game is the string tension on the racquet. Lowering the tension of the string increases the power of the racquet. On the other hand, increasing the string tension will lead to more powerful strokes. 

There’s no standard by which you should set the string tension. Rather, a person has to use different string tensions to understand which one suits him better. 

The head size of your racquet is one of the things that determines the power of the racquet. The bigger the head of the racquet, the higher its power will be. This is because a larger area allows the ball to bounce better with the strings of the racket

Then again, the surface area of the racquet also has a direct impact on the performance. More the area, the higher the chances of actually hitting the ball. 


Tennis Rules Scoring

For winning a round of Tennis match, you need to win four serves. Unlike many other sports, one win doesn’t grant you 1 point, and this confuses a lot of beginners. 

After winning the first serve of the round, your score will be 15. Similarly, winning the second round means your score will be 30, and winning the third round will mean your score is 40. If you win another round after reaching 40, then you’re the winner.

However, there’s a tie system too. If the points of both players are 40, then it’s called a deuce, which is the tie. In case a deuce occurs, a player must win two consecutive serves to win that round. Otherwise, deuces will continue. 

A match of Tennis comprises multiple sets, and the number of sets a person has to win for winning the match depends. For men’s matches, the amount of seats to be won is the best of five sets, and for women’s matches, the number is the best of three.

For example, in a men’s match, one of the sides has to win five matches, and the sixth win will decisive. However, if the score is five for each team, then the winner will have to win two consecutive matches to reach 7-5, and that will be the winning round.

This means, to win a tennis round, a contestant must be two rounds ahead of the opponent. 

As we’ve said before, the numbering system of tennis is like 15, 30, 40, and ‘game’, whereas the tie is called ‘deuce’. Furthermore, you won’t find ‘0’ points declared in tennis, but they’ll be denoted as ‘love’.

Now, to help you understand the service properly, we’re going to simulate the scoring of a game with two deuces. 

Won byScore
Player A15-0
Player A30-0
Player B30-15
Player B30-30
Player A40-40 (deuce)
Player BAdvantage player B
Player A40-40 (deuce)
Player AAdvantage player A
Player AGame Player A

Tennis Rules Serving

Tennis serves are pretty hard to do, and one of the major reasons behind that is the rules. The rules were designed to make the service fair for both the server and the receiver. As professional tennis players are capable of serving at blinding speed, without these rules they would’ve won every serve. 

The starting service is alternated by the players with each game, and they change the side of the court with the first game and with alternating games. This ensures that each player gets to serve an equal number, and the side of the court doesn’t provide benefits to one side only. 

Certain conditions can lead to a faulty service in tennis. A faulty service is usually declared to be a ‘fault’. For learning tennis rules for beginners. Let’s take a look at those conditions:

  • The winner of the toss gets to choose between the side and the serve. Choosing the side will allow the winner to choose any of the sides. 
  • The server must be stationary while serving
  • It’s essential that the server serve diagonally to the receiver’s court. If this is violated, then it’ll be a fault.
  • If the server fails to hit the ball after throwing it upwards, then it’ll be a fault. However, he can choose to catch it without trying to hit it. 
  • If a service shot touches the net and lands in the court, then it must be replayed. 
  • The receiver has to allow the ball to bounce before hitting it. 
  • It’s a faulty service when the ball hits the net
  • It’ll be a fault if the ball doesn’t reach the service court of the receiver
  • If the ball falls beyond the service court, it’ll be a fault
  • If the ball lands beyond the lines of the court
  • The servers foot must not touch the baseline of the court or beyond that
  • Two consecutive faults will result in a loss of points 
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These are the rules that must be maintained for servicing without a fault in tennis. These rules must be maintained strictly for eliminating any type of bias in a tennis match. 

Also read: What Does LET Mean in Tennis?


Scorekeeping Rules

If the tennis match is being played by two people and there aren’t any spectators or moderators around, then the players themselves must remember the scores. Often, it’s found that players get the score wrong and fight over it. To avoid that, some rules were declared for scorekeeping. 

The first rule is both the players should remember the scores. If one player is confused about the scores or somehow forgot them, then he or she can ask the other player about it. 

If both the players forget the score of the game, then they must go back to the last score they remember, and they have to play all over again from that point. 

These rules were enacted to ensure disputes don’t hinder a game between two or four. Maintaining these will help the players maintain peace in the match. 


Tennis Rules Doubles

Tennis Doubles

There are a lot of differences between singles and doubles matches of tennis. To play a doubles match properly, it’s necessary to understand the rules first.

In this section, we’ll discuss the doubles rules that you need to know for playing a double match properly.

Just like singles matches, the winner of the toss will decide who will serve first. Now, there’s no rule about who’s going to serve first. Either you or your partner can start with the service. The server must serve from the right segment of the court. 

If you’re serving from the right court, you must remain there and your partner on the left court will receive the serves on the left court. If you start serving in one game, you must serve throughout the game. 

Once you’re done, it’s time for the opponents to serve. After they serve one game, it’s time for your partner to serve and for you to receive. 

The person serving can’t receive the first volley, as it’s the job of the partner to do that. While serving, if you hit the body of your partner, then it will be considered as a fault. 

However, if you hit the body of the receiver or the partner of the receiver, then it will be counted as a point in your favor. 

Unlike table tennis, there’s no need to alternate who’s going to receive the shots, unless it’s the service. Any between you and your partner can decide to hit the ball coming your way.  

Alternative Doubles Games

There are different types of doubles games that you can play. Today, we’ll look at a few variants that you can choose from in our tennis rules for beginners guide. 

Mixed Doubles

Mixed doubles refer to the type of doubles game where the teams comprise of a male and a female player. Other than that, the rules and guidelines remain the same as regular doubles games. 

Canadian Doubles

Unlike regular doubles matches, the Canadian doubles games comprise of three players. In these matches, one team comes with two players, while the other comes with only one. So, essentially these are doubles vs. singles matches.

In this game, there will be three sets in total, and each player must play singles in one set. The champion will be selected amongst the three players, and the one with the highest number of wins will get the championship. 

The rules are mostly the same as regular tennis, but there’s a small twist. While the singles player can send the ball to any section of the court, the doubles players must land the ball within singles measurements. This means that they can’t land the ball beyond the trim line. 

Australian Doubles

Australian doubles and Canadian doubles are similar as both of them are singles vs. doubles games. However, there are significant differences between them. In Australian doubles, the players rotate their positions after each game. This ensures that one player is playing singles with every third game.

There’s no specific scoring system for Australian doubles. In most cases, the scoring system is determined before the start of the game. However, in most cases, it’s seen that Australian doubles games are played according to Canadian doubles games. 

Another popular method is determining a specific point for a game. If a singles player wins then he gets four points. On the other hand, if the doubles players win, they get two points each. 

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Tennis Rules for Beginners: Kids

Tennis Rules for Kids

When it comes to the tennis rules (for beginners), there aren’t many differences between regular tennis and tennis for kids. However, for obvious reasons, a lot of differences have been kept in terms of the court measurement and the scoring system.

That is to say, there’s no rule that states that kids can’t play in the same courts as adults. However, for kids under the age of eight years, the usage of quick-start courts is highly recommended. These are cut-down versions of the original courts; thus, they are also known as mini courts.

Court Dimensions

For quick-start tennis, the court will be significantly smaller than the regular ones. Unlike the major 78 feet length of the regular courts, the quick-start courts will measure 36 feet in length. Then again, they will measure 18-feet in width, which is significantly smaller in comparison to the regular courts. 

These were for the quick-start courts for kids under the age of 8 years. If the kid is under 10 years of age but older than 8 years, then they can use bigger courts.

For them, the court can be as long as 60-feet. This is designed to help the kids make a smooth transition to bigger courts when they come of age. 

Scoring System

These games are kept shorter too. A quick-start tennis match for kids under the age of eight years will not last more than 20 minutes. The points are kept to seven only, and the kids will play the best of three. If one of the participants manages to win two games consecutively, then he or she will be declared the winner. 

The scoring system is a bit different for kids who are 10 or under. They will play three sets in total. The first two sets will comprise four games. The first participant to win four games with a gap of two will be declared the winner. However, this is only for the first two sets.

The third set is a bit different. It comprises of one game only, and a participant has to score 7 points to win that game. 

Ball Measurement

Needless to say, regular tennis balls are built to match the pace of the adults, and they won’t serve the kids well. This is why special balls are used for quick-start tennis matches, and these balls are designed to match the speed and pace of the kids. 

For kids under 8, a low compression ball or a foam ball is used. These balls not only move slower, but they bounce lower as well. Plus, these balls also travel less distance, as the court is significantly smaller.

For kids who are 10 or under 10, the ball is a bit more developed. These balls will travel a bit further and bounce a bit higher than the low compression balls used for kids under 8. Even then, they won’t match the balls used for adults. 

Measurement of Racquet

Kids require smaller racquets than adults for having better control over them. For kids under the age of 8, the racquets can come at 19, 21, or 23 inches. For kids who are 10 or under 10, the racquets can be either 23 inches or 25 inches. 

Compared to the measurements of the regular racquets, these are considerably smaller. However, these are perfect for kids, so it’s important to opt for these measurements while buying racquets for kids. 


Final Words

If you understand and remember all the tennis rules for beginners that we’ve discussed above, you’ll be able to get started with tennis. This discussion not only will help you enjoy tennis games better, but it will also help you play tennis. 

You learned the rules, you learned about the equipment, and you learned about different types of tennis games. Now, it’s up to you to start practicing. The more you do that, the better you’ll get at this game!

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