What Does LET Mean in Tennis?

There are quite a few terminologies involved with tennis. I have been trying to learn them myself when I stumbled across the term – let. Today I will try to answer this. What does Let mean in tennis?

Before I start, you should understand that context matters during a tennis match. Let is not restricted to any single scenario, and can occur in multiple situations. For convenience, today I will discuss what a service let is first. 

What Is a Let?

In the simplest terms, a let is a call in tennis that asks the players to replay a particular point. This can be called for a few different reasons, such as during a serve – known as a service let. 

A Let call can occur during the following scenarios:

  1. When the ball touches the net, usually at the top, but still ends up landing in the opposing serve box.
  2. When the ball makes contact with any of the wearing of the player before they hit the ground.
  3. The server ends up hitting the ball before the opponent has 

Usually, the first is what ends up happening and the umpire is forced to call a Let at that point. This is a service let and is the most common type of let. Not only does this keep the game fair, but it also helps avoid any arguments between the players.

Who Can Call for Let?

1. Professional Level

A Let call is made by the game’s umpire. When learning about this, I thought that this is an unfair way to approach this. The human eye may not always be precise enough to detect this. Upon further research, I learned how the modern tech deals with it.

Professional tennis umpires monitor a service let using sensors placed on the net, which go off in case the net is touched at any point before reaching the other player. Amazing how far technology has come in sports, isn’t it? 

2. Recreational or Amateur Level

At a recreational or amateur level, players can call for service Let too. However, it is better to use a third person to avoid disagreements or heated moments. I for one don’t think I would enjoy being in a position of dispute like that, I don’t know about you.

Imagine if player 1 ends up serving the ball before player 2 can prepare for it. If player 2 calls a let at this point, player 1 can easily say that he served the ball after confirming that player 2 was ready.

What would you do in a situation like this? Would you call for a Let? Or would you let player 1 have the advantage?

The Official Definition

Here is the official definition provided by the ITF – International Tennis Federation, of the word Let in the context of tennis. I have rephrased it into easier terms for convenience of understanding.

  1. A let will be called in case the ball is found touching the net, strap, or band. A let will also be called in case the ball touches the net, strap, or band and proceeds to touch the receiver, the partner of the receiver, or any of their wearings before they hit the ground.
  2. In case the ball ends up being served before the receiver is ready to take the shot. 

In the world of tennis, this is a service let and it will not count – and it is required to restart. It also will not be taken as a service to cancel out the previously committed fault.

The Origin of the Term ‘Let’

Why is the terminology ‘Let’ a word that is used in our daily lives that means something outside of the context of a sport like tennis?

Well, it turns out there is more to it than that. The term ‘Let’ is used to signify that the player is LETTING the ball pass. The server is LET a second chance at taking the serve. This is why the term ‘Let’ is used.

It is unrelated to the wordnet and has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Other Forms of Let

A let might represent an instance where a player has to replay a point, but a service let is not the only one. I mentioned it earlier, I will now be getting into it in more detail.

A let call is basically appropriate whenever there is some kind of interference by the referee to keep the game fair. This can be an external disturbance or any kind of disagreement between the players themselves.

In professional tennis, a different kind of let is called when someone within the crowd is moving, namely during the player’s serve. I found this very weird, but it made sense to me later. As a member of the audience, it is a part of basic etiquette in tennis to move or get up during a changeover.

Some Other Common Terms in Tennis

Here is a list of some commonly used terms in tennis, but may sound unusual to a non-tennis person. 

  • Deuce – when the score goes up to 40 for all, it is said to be deuce, and none of the officials will say that it’s 40 all. They will call it a deuce instead.
  • Stroke – simply speaking, when a tennis ball is hit. It does not matter what kind of a hit it is, as long as it is a backhand, forehand, or a simple tennis ball hit.
  • Love – when no points have been scored across the whole round. It is also common to say fifteen – love when the score is fifteen for one player, and zero points for the other.


Like Let, many other terms exist in tennis, including the few I have mentioned. The game operates well using these terms properly. I hope you have found my explanation useful, and understand what a let means in tennis.

Read More: How to Make a Tennis Backboard? Improve Your Tennis Skills Alone

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