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Doubles Tennis Rules

Understanding the Basic Rules and Regulations of Doubles Tennis

Before you begin playing doubles in tennis, it's essential to know all the tennis rules and regulations for doubles. Here's an article which makes understanding doubles tennis a bit simpler.
Sheetal Mandora
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
As the name suggests, the game is played between four players―two in each side. It's a competition between two pairs of players that requires teamwork, trust, and coordination where both teams will play either 1, 3, or 5 sets, depending on the type of the tournament entered in.
Before the game begins, the players toss or flip a coin. Each team will pick between 'heads' or 'tails' to decide if they wish to serve, receive, or choose a particular side of the court to play on. Let's say team A won the toss and chooses to serve or receive first, then team B gets to choose which side of the court they wish to play on first.
Doubles' rules specifically suggest that while team A player 1 is serving, he/she has to stand on the right side of the court, behind the baseline. Once the serve is played, the ball has to land diagonally on the other side of the net (without touching it), in the service box.
At the beginning of the game, it is already decided which player gets to be the server. Let's say, for example, in the first game, team A player 1 is the server and player 2 is the serving partner. Then, in the second game, team B player 1 will be the server and player 1 will be the serving partner. In the third game, team A player 2 will be the server and player 1 will be the serving partner. And in the fourth game, team B player 2 will get the chance to serve and player 1 will be the serving partner. So both teams' players get a chance to serve their opponents after every fourth game.
Each server of team A and B will get 2 service attempts, and try to get the ball across the net, and on to the other side safely. At times, players can serve a fault when their foot reaches the baseline before he/she hits the ball, misses to hit the ball, or doesn't stand in the correct position before serving the ball. The scores while serving depends on how well the serve was, and if it is received or gets missed.
Similar to the serve, while the opponent team receives the ball, they have to stand in specific positions as well. The receiver will stand diagonal to the server, within the baseline; while the receiving partner will stand on the left side of the center line. This positioning works well if the receiving team wants to use any particular tennis doubles strategy. How? Let me explain. The most important goal for the receiving team is to return the ball on the other side. Well, if team B positions themselves properly, keeps up with one another and their opponents, and works together, then they can easily return the ball and keep their opponents on their toes.
Now again, similar to the serving side, even the receiving side decides the order of getting the serve before the game begins. The order will be: team B player 1―first game, team A player 1―second game, team B player 2―third game, and team A player 2―fourth game. Each players get a chance to receive the ball after every 4 games. While playing the game, knowing these basic rules will give you a better approach to the game and make you a better player.
If you haven't had the opportunity of playing tennis before, do pay attention on the scores or get a complete knowledge of the scoring method. Whenever a team serves, team A or B, they are the ones who need to announce the scores before serving the next ball. And the biggest rule for scoring is to call out the serving team's scores first.
Each game will consist of 4 points: Love, 15, 30, 40, and Game. No score―love, 1st point―15, 2nd point―30, 3rd point―40, and 5th point―game. This sounds pretty simple; as the teams score points, they get closer to winning the game in a set. But what if the score is a tie? Sometimes, when both the teams' scores are 40-40 (as in, they both scored 3 points), how do we decide who won the game? Whenever both teams reach the score of 40 each (called out as deuce, not 40 All), one team has to win the next 2 consecutive points. This will eventually lead them into winning that particular game. This doubles' rules for scoring is called 'advantage in' or 'ad in'. The reason it's called an advantage is because when one of the teams scores the next point after (40-40) deuce, will get the 'advantage'. Now if the team with the advantage can't make the next score, if they lose the next point, then the scores go back to deuce (40-40).
In this scenario, the opponent team also has the opportunity to win the game. When the score is deuce and the opponent's team wins the 1st point, then it's called out as an 'advantage out' or 'ad out'. And if the opponent's team wins the 2nd point as well, then they will win the game. However, if the opponent's team loses the 2nd point, then the score will go back to (40-40) deuce. For a team to win one set, teams A or B have to win a total of 6 games; however, 1 team needs to be at least 2 or more (won) games ahead of the other in order to win the set. Now let's say there's a tie and the scores are 6-6 in any particular set. Here, both teams have to play another game, known as a 'seven point tiebreak' game. The same scoring system is used for points. The team that scores 7 points first, with a difference of two points, wins the tiebreak and the set as well.
Let's take a look at scoring system for losing points. A team loses points when ...
  • the ball, on receiving or serving side, hits the ground more than once.
  • the players don't return the ball to the other side.
  • the game is on and the player's body, clothes, or racket touches the net.
  • a player hits the ball more than once when it's on their side.
  • a players goes over the net and hits the ball.

These were the most basic, yet essential rules. These are professional rules which are followed by Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, and Australian Open tournaments. The game of tennis is not only for competition purposes, but it also brings the elements like communication, teamwork, and strategic playing. Remember to follow and respect these rules while playing the game.