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The Top 10 Rules Of Tennis

Table of Contents


What is tennis?

Tennis is a competition that has been around since 1873. There are two forms of the sport called singles and doubles. Singles matches consist of two players competing head to head as they attempt to hit the ball in the boundaries of their opponents side of the court without the opponent returning the ball before it bounces twice. The same rules apply for doubles except for the boundaries. Because doubles consist of two players on each team, the boundaries are bigger giving the players more room to hit the ball on the opponent's side. The added room is called the doubles alley. In tennis there are 4 major tournaments called grand slams. The 4 consist of the French Open, Australian Open, US Open, and Wimbolden. Millions across the world watch these competitions as the top players in the world compete against one another until one is crowned a champion. Although the grand slams are the most popular tournaments, there are ample amounts of other tournaments year round all across the world in which players can compete to acquire ATP points to boost their world ranking. Over the past 20 years Serena and Venus Williams have dominated women's tennis, while Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer have dominated on the men's side.

What are the top 10 rules of tennis?

  1. Coin toss
  2. Serving Faults
  3. Player Challenges
  4. Sets/Games
  5. Ranking system
  6. Tournaments
  7. Deuce
  8. Doubles/Singles
  9. Ball Boys/Girls
  10. Chair Umpire

1. Coin Toss

Before any tennis match begins, the players meet at center court to determine who will serve first and from which side of the court that will be from. The chair umpire will come out to center court and greet both players with a handshake before asking the lower ranked player/s to call heads or tails. The umpire then proceeds to toss the coin and the winner of the toss has the decision to recieve or serve, or decide which side he or she wants to play on first. If the winner of the coin toss elects to choose a side, the other player/s will elect if they want to serve or receive first. Most elect to serve first as serving is a huge advantage in tennis.

2. Serving Faults

The beginning of every point in tennis starts with a serve. Players toss the ball in the air and attempt to hit it over the net into the opponent's service box diagonal from where they are serving. Players have two opportunities to serve it into the box. If a player misses both serves, they lose the point as a result of a double fault. If a player hits the ball off the lip of the net and the ball lands in the box they are supposed to be serving into, they serve the ball again. When this occurs it is called a let. Additionally, players' feet must remain behind the service line throughout the process of their serve or they will be given a foot fault by the chair umpire. Recently, tennis instilled a shot clock forcing players to serve in a timely manner between points. Prior to this rule, some players would take several minutes to serve between points causing frustration for the opponent as well as the fans. The shot clock generally starts at the conclusion of a point and counts down from 30 seconds.

3. Player Challenges

In tennis there are line judges who call any ball that is out of bounds out by screaming "out" in the middle of the point. They are more often correct than not, but sometimes the play is too fast and they make mistakes. Players have the ability to challenge a call the line judges make. In order to do so, a player must raise their finger or hand and yell out "challenge." They can only do so on the last shot of a rally. Each player has two challenges per set. When a player challenges a call, the chair umpire uses video technology which shows whether the ball was in or not. If the player gets their challenge correct, they retain the same amount of challenges they had. If the player is incorrect they lose the challenge. In the event a set goes to a tiebreak, players receive one additional challenge on top of how many they had remaining. At the beginning of a new set, challenges are reset to two no matter how many challenges the player had remaining in the previous set.

4. Sets/Games

In tennis a player must win 6 games to win the set. In order to win a game, a player must win 4 points before the other player wins 4. Depending on the tournament or match, the amount of sets a player must win to win the overall match varies. Generally, women's tennis matches are best two out of three sets while men's matches are best three out of five sets. This means a female player must win two sets before their opponent does in order to win the match. If they each win a set, they play a decisive third set to determine the winner of the match. For the men, they must win three sets before their opponent does so. Similar to the women, if the score is tied two-two in sets, the men play a decisive 5th set to determine the winner of the match.

5. Ranking System

The ranking system in tennis is fairly unique. Each player receives a ranking based on how many points they acquire over tournaments throughout the year. Depending on how far a player makes it into a tournament they recieve more points. For example, the champion of a tournament receives the most points while someone who lost in the first round receives the least. Different tournaments have different point systems with the four majors handing out the most points. There are 4 levels of tournaments in terms of points handed out with #1 being the highest and so forth: 1. Grand Slams, 2. Masters 1000, 3. ATP 500, And 4. ATP 250. Grand slam champions recieve 2,000 points while the other three levels have the amount of points the winner receives in the title. Seeding in tournaments is determined based off of world ranking meaning the higher the seed you are the higher ranked in the world you are. Therefore, it is important for players to compete as often as possible to acquire as many points as possible throughout the season.

6. Tiebreakers

If a tennis match is tied six to six in games in a set, the players are forced to decide the winner of the set through a tiebreaker. Tiebreakers are essentially a longer game. Instead of having 15, 30, 40 scoring, the players play first to win 7 points and have a margin of two points or more points over their opponent, wins the tiebreaker and ultimately the set. If the score is tied 6-6 in the tiebreak, they must continue playing until someone wins by two points. In a tiebreak, the person who served the last game to get the set to 6-6 in games will receive the opponent's serve for the first point. Following the first point, the players alternate every two serves and switch sides after every 6 points. In rare circumstances such as Wimbledon, players continue playing games until someone wins by two games. Wimbolden had to change the rule to a maximum score of 12 to 12 in games before playing a tiebreaker due to a match that went on for several days between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut ending with a 70-68 score in games for the final set.

7. Deuce

When a game within a tennis match is tied 40-40 in scoring, the terminology for this specific score is called a deuce. When this occurs, players continue playing points until someone wins two points in a row. When the server wins the first point of a deuce, the terminology for the score is called advantage in. If the player who is receiving wins the first point of a deuce, the terminology for the score is called advantage out. In certain tennis competitions they don't play deuce scoring meaning that when a game is tied 40-40, the server gets the choice of what side he or she wants to serve to and that ensuing point determines who wins the game.

8. Doubles/Singles

In tennis there are two forms of competitions: singles and doubles. In singles two individuals compete against one another. In doubles, two teams of two individuals compete against one another. The same rules apply in terms of how the tennis is played, but in Doubles the 4 players alternate serving meaning that an individual who serves to begin the match doesn't serve again until the 5th game of the set. Additionally, the boundaries are a bit different. In doubles matches, players are allowed to hit the ball in the doubles alley. The reason for this is because there is less space on the court to hit the ball past your opponent when there is more than one of them on the court as there is in doubles.

9. Ball Boys/Girls

If you have watched tennis before you may have noticed people running around the court after the conclusion of a point picking up the ball.These people are assigned ball boys and girls. Ball boys and girls have a few responsibilities. At the conclusion of each point, they must pick the ball up in a timely manner if it's closest to them. Before the next point begins, they are responsible for handing the tennis player who is serving the ball. If the player asks for a towel, the ball boy or girl will be equipped with one and hand it to the player. While a point is going on, the ball boys and girls must remain as still as possible for the purpose of not distracting the players.

10. Chair Umpire

The chair umpire in tennis is the most important person when it comes to making a call or fixing an issue occurring in a match. Chair umpires have several responsibilities. They must watch every point closely and overrule a call from a linesman if they deem their call to be incorrect. Additionally, they announce the score after every point concludes. If a player wants to challenge a call they must ask the chair umpire to do so. Chair umpires are also responsible for controlling the crowd during a match, specifically noise related issues. If a player misbehaves such as smashing a racquette or hitting a ball into the crowd, the chair umpire has the right to issue a warning to the player. If a player continues misbehaving, the chair umpire can ultimately disqualify the player resulting in their opponent winning the match.



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