Tennis Lingo And Terminology

What Are Some Basic Tennis Terms And Lingo

Tennis is a sport with a complex scoring system, dividing matches into games and sets, and using words like “love” and “deuce” instead of certain numbers. There are also many complicated rules and types of shots, all with their own unique terminology. Keep reading for a list of all the tennis terms and lingo you need to play and watch tennis.

Tennis Terms And Lingo

Ace: An ace is when a ball is served without being returned by the opponent.

Advantage (AD): Advantage is the term which refers to the point scored after a deuce (40-40). If the player with the advantage wins the next point, they will win the game.

All: “All” is the word used to refer to a situation in which a game is tied (i.e. 0-0, 15-15, 30-30). It is expressed by announcing the point value and then saying, “All.” Therefore, 15-15 would be said as, “15-all.”

Alley: The area between the singles and doubles sidelines is called the alley.

Approach: An approach shot is a stroke hit by a player as they are approaching the net.

Backcourt: The backcourt is the area near the baseline of a tennis court, behind the two service boxes.

Backhand: A backhand is a type of shot in tennis where a player hits the ball by moving their racket away from the body with the back of the hand facing outward.

Baseline: The baseline is the back line of the court, which runs parallel to the net and perpendicular to the sidelines of the court.

Break (Service Break): A game won by the receiving player or team is called a break or service break.

Break Point: A break point is a point that, if won by the receiving player, will result in a service break, meaning that the receiving player has won a game in which their opponent was serving.

Deuce: A deuce is when the score of a game is tied at 40-40, meaning that each player has won three points already. To win the game, one of the players must score two consecutive points.

Deuce Court: The right side of the court is known as the deuce court. The name comes from the fact that deuce points are served from the right side.

Dig: A stroke hit right before the ball makes its second bounce is called a dig.

Double Fault: A double fault refers to two consecutively missed service attempts, which causes the player to lose a point.

Doubles: Doubles is a form of tennis where four players face each other in two teams of two.

Drop Shot: A drop shot is a softly-hit ball that lofts in the air with a lot of backspin before dropping towards the ground.

Fault: A fault is a missed service attempt.

Forehand: A forehand is a shot in tennis that involves hitting the ball with your dominant hand while holding the racket on that same side of your body and bringing it forward with the palm of the hand facing forward.

Flat: A flat is a type of shot in tennis with no topspin, meaning that the ball is hit straight toward the ground.

Game: A game is one part of a set, which is then one part of a match. There are at least six games in a set, with the set ending whenever one player first reaches six won games, or wins by two in the event of certain ties. Games are won by scoring four points or winning by two in the event of a deuce.

Golden Slam: A Golden Slam is the act of winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in tennis. This can be done in a single year or across the player’s career, and can be done in either singles or doubles, but not both mixed together.

Grand Slam: Grand Slams are one of the four major tennis tournaments. A Grand Slam is also the achievement of winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in a year or over a career.

Groundstroke: A groundstroke is a shot made after the ball has bounced. (A groundstroke is the opposite of a volley.) Groundstrokes can be forehand or backhand.

Half-Volley: A half-volley is a quick, defensive stroke made right after the ball hits the ground. Half-volleys are usually made low on a short hop.

Let: A let is a point that is played over again because of an interference on the previous point.

Lob: A lob is a ball that is hit well above the head of the opponent, forcing them to run back on their side of the court.

Match: A match is the overall form of a tennis contest, which is decided by a best-of-three or a best-of-five-sets format.

No-Ad: No-ad is a scoring system where the first player to win four points wins the game, with no two-point margin needed.

No Man’s Land: “No Man’s Land” is slang for the area of the court between the baseline and the service line.

Out: A ball that is out is any ball that lands outside the court’s boundary lines is out (out-of-bounds).

Poach: In doubles, playing a ball that would typically be played by your partner is called a poach.

Point: A point is the smallest scoring unit in tennis. A player must win four points, by a margin of two, to win a game.

Rally: A rally is the action of players exchanging the ball back and forth while it is in play.

Receiver: A receiver is the player or team that receives the serve, and is also called the returner.

Serve: A serve is when one player puts the ball into play to start the point. The act of serving alternates between players every game.

Server: The server is the player that is serving. One server serves every point in a game.

Set: A set is the second denomination of play in a tennis game. Sets are comprised of games, with the first player to win six games (or winning by two) winning the set. There are anywhere between three and five sets in a match.

Singles: Singles is a form of tennis where two players face off against each other individually.

Slice: A slice is a type of shot in tennis where the player brushes their racket underneath the ball in a slicing motion, hitting it from the bottom in order to generate backspin.

Smash (Overhead): A smash or overhead is a hard overhead shot made with the racket lifted above the player’s head.

Spin: Spin refers to the rotation of the ball after a hit. Spin can be applied as topspin or backspin.

Stroke: Hitting the ball with the racket is called a stroke. There are many different types of strokes in tennis.

Tiebreak: A tiebreak is a way to decide who wins a set when it is tied at six games each.

Topspin: Hitting the ball with your racquet in a low to high motion in a forward motion is known as giving the ball topspin.

Tweener: A tweener is a type of shot in tennis where the player hits the ball between their own legs, usually when facing away from the net. 

Volley: A volley is a stroke made before the ball hits the ground.


What are the most important tennis terms to know?

The most important tennis terms to know are those that deal with scoring, such as love, all, and deuce. These terms are important for knowing the score of a game and how many points need to be won. Other important terms to know concern tennis gameplay, such as fault, ace, let, set, and game.