Tennis is a great sport for beginners looking to get some exercise. While there are some advanced rules to know, they aren't necessary to begin playing at a beginner level. Whether you are looking to get started in the competitive scene, or just want to hit a ball around with friends or family, these rules are a good starting point for tennis players.
Tennis is played on a rectangle-shaped court that can be made of various different surfaces. It can be played as either 1 versus 1 (singles) or 2 versus 2 (doubles). Players stand on opposite sides of a 3 foot tall net, and hit a green ball back and forth across the net within the court boundaries, and without letting the ball bounce on their side more than once. To hit the ball, players use a racket. The goal in competitive tennis is to win points in order to win games in order to win sets in order to win the match.
There are three types of scoring in tennis: points, games, and sets.
Points have unique lingo in tennis. Zero points is known as "love," one point is known as "15," two points is known as "30," and three points is known as "40." A tied score of 15 and 30 is known as "15 all" or "30 all", while a tied score of 40 is known as "deuce." When a player scores a point after the game reaches deuce, it is known as "advantage." The first player to 4 points or to score two consecutive points after deuce wins the game.
To win a set, players must win 6 games and by a margin of two games. That means that if a set ends up tied at 5 games, the first to 7 games wins. In a typical tennis match, If the set ends up tied at 6 games, a tiebreaker game occurs. The first to 7 points wins the tiebreaker game, but once again, players must win the tiebreaker game by 2 points.
To win a typical tennis match, players must win 2 sets (best out of 3). However, some competitive matches require players to win 3 sets.
Every point begins with a serve. The player that serves alternates each game (alternates between each pair and each player in doubles). The server stands behind the back line of their side and to one side. The server needs to hit the ball over the net and to the opposite side from where they serve into the correct service box. The service boxes are two separate boxes that touch the net on each side. When the ball is put into play off a serve, it is known as a rally.
A rally ends when the ball lands off the court on the first bounce, or bounces twice. A point is awarded to whomever hit the ball last before the ball bounced twice on the opponent's side, or to the opposite team from whoever hit the ball out of bounds. The long thin boxes on each side of the court are out of bounds in singles, but in bounds in doubles.
While there are some more advanced things to learn about tennis, these rules will allow anybody to grab a racket and play a friendly match at the very least. Find a friend, or maybe three friends, and start rallying!