What is tennis?

Perhaps the most well-known racquet sport today, tennis is played throughout the world by millions, of all ages and abilities. Tennis is a sport played with either two players (singles) or four players (doubles). Players use rackets and balls along with a court to compete. Tennis consists of games and sets and is broken down into points. The scoring system in tennis is abnormal and unique. Let's break it down below.

The Court

The field of play in tennis is referred to as the tennis court, a flat, rectangular surface (typically made of synthetic turf, concrete, or asphalt) that measures 78 ft by 27 ft for singles, and 78 ft by 36 ft for doubles, and is divided into two equivalent halves by a net stretched across the center.

In addition to the court, only two more pieces of equipment are necessary to play tennis: a racquet and a tennis ball. The only thing that is allowed to contact the tennis ball is the racquet.


Every tennis game starts with a serve, with the serving player announcing the current points. Only two attempts at a successful serve (one that does not contact the net and lands within the bounds on the opponent's court) are allowed. A point is awarded to a player if the opponent is either (1) unable to return the ball to the player's court within the boundaries of play, (2) strikes the ball into the net, or (3) fails to return the ball before it has bounced twice (the ball may only bounce on each court).


The points system is unique in tennis in that "love" corresponds to zero, and that 15, 30, and 40 correspond to one, two, and three points, respectively. The fourth point is referred to as the game point, and the first team or player to reach four points will win the set. However, in the case that a score of 40 - 40 is reached, the first team or player to win two consecutive games will be declared the winner of the set. A tennis match consists of three sets for women and five for men, and the winner is decided on a "best of" basis.