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How Does Scoring Work In Tennis?

There are three components to the scoring system in tennis. Before breaking down the point system, you should know that in tennis there are games, sets, and the match. The match is the proper term for the entire performance and is made up of sets. A game consists of points, and a set consists of games won.

The scoring system in Tennis is the same for both Singles and Doubles play. The only difference in gameplay is the boundaries on the court, in Singles play the Alleys are out of bounds and in Doubles play they are not.

The player (singles) or team (doubles) who wins the most sets wins the Match. A set consists of games and a game consists of points.

Match Sets Games Points

Table of Contents

How do Games Work?

Point Tier

The point tier goes as follows: you start at 0. After scoring one point, the player will now have 15. The next point won would bring the player to 30. Following that, another point won brings a player's score to 40. If the player with 40 wins the next point, they will win that game, and now lead the set 1-0.

When there is a tie, before the score of 40, it is referred to as "all." For example, when both players have 30, you will say "30 all."


If both players have 40 points, we have what is called "deuce." The next point won when in "deuce" gives that player the advantage, which, in short, means if they win the next point, they win the game. However, if the player that does not have the advantage wins the point, the game returns to "deuce."


The last terms you might hear often in regards to scoring are advantage-in and advantage out. Advantage in, or ad-in for short, is when the server scores the point during a deuce. Advantage out, or ad-out, is when the receiver scores the point during a deuce.

Though the standard scoring system includes the deuce and advantage scoring layout, there are times where that will be disregarded, and when the score is 40-40, the next point wins the game.

Scoring Example - players win without Deuce

  • 0 - 0 (Game Starts with Serve from Player 1)
  • 15 - 0 (Player 1 scores first point)
  • 30 - 0 (Player 1 scores second point)
  • 40 - 0 (Player 1 scores third point)
  • Game Over - Player 1 Wins (Player 1 scores fourth point)

Scoring Example - players win with Deuce

  • 0 - 0 (Game Starts with Serve from Player 1)
  • 15 - 0 (Player 1 scores first point)
  • 15 - 15 (Player 2 scores first point)
  • 30 - 15 (Player 1 scores second point)
  • 30 - 30 (Player 2 scores second point)
  • 40 - 30 (Player 1 scores third point)
  • 40 - 40 (Player 2 scores third point)
  • DEUCE: At this point the game is tied, in order for a player, or players in Doubles, to win they must score another two points consecutively. These points are known as Advantage-In (or Out), and game point. The "in" or "out" in Advantage refers to whether or not the player who wins the point after 40-40 is the player serving or receiving serve. If the player serving wins the point after 40-40 it is referred to as Advantage-In, if it is the player receiving who wins it is Advantage-Out.
  • Ad-In - 40 (Player 1 scores fourth point)
  • Game Over - Player 1 Wins (Player 1 scores fifth point)

Set Scoring

In order to win a Set a player must win 6 total games within the set. The first player to win 6 games wins the set. Sets must be decided by at least two games, similar to Games needing to be decided by at least two-points (see Deuce above). If a set is tied at 5 games each the winner must win two more consecutive games to win the Set. This means sets may be won as 7-5 or 8-6 or 9-7 and so on.

Alternatively, and in Professional Tennis, when a Set gets to a score of 6 - 6 in games then there can be what is known as a "Tiebreaker".

A Tiebreaker game is a game of 12 points and the winner of the Tiebreaker will also win the set. To win the Tiebreaker a player must have a score of at least 7 points and also have 2 more points than their opponent. Tiebreaker scoring is sequential starting at 1. So, for example, a player could win a Tiebreaker with a score of 7-5, 8-6, 9-7, etc.

Match Scoring

Match scoring works as a best-of scoring system. Typically, a Match has 3 sets, and the first player to win 2 of the 3 sets wins the Match. In professional Men's Tennis Sets are best-of 5 where the first player to win 3 sets wins the Match.

How to Score Points In Singles

  • The player serving the ball serves it directly into the correct service court, and the opponent cannot return the serve. This is known as an Ace.
  • The player serving the ball serves into the net or out of bounds on two consecutive attempts. The first attempt is known as a "Fault" where no points are awarded, the second attempt is referred to as "Double Fault" and the opponent is awarded a point.
  • After a serve has been put in play if any player hits the ball into the net the other player(s) are awarded a point
  • After a serve has been put in play if any player hits the ball into the Doubles Alleys on either side of the court or behind the baseline the other player(s) are awarded a point

How to Score Points In Doubles

A player, or players in Doubles play, can score points in the following ways:

The scoring in Doubles play is the same except that the Doubles Alleys are in-play. This means that hitting the ball into the Alleys does not result in the other team receiving 15 points but rather continues play until another player hits the ball into the net, or behind the baseline.

Game Strategy

Tennis matches can typically drag on for hours on end. The longest match in tennis history was played in 2014, and went over 11 hours and was played over the course of three days.

The strategy behind playing games, of course, varies from player to player and from grass courts to clay courts. To win a game, you want to focus on your opponent's weaknesses. And the best tennis players in the world are quite good at doing this and taking advantage of it. If a player can expose a weakness early in a tennis match, that match will typically fly by a little bit quicker, because the losing player is simply outmatched.

The goal, in short, win and win quickly.


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