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Simplifying the Slightly Confusing Scoring System in Tennis

Tennis is one of the most popular sports which is unique in all its aspects. This article explains tennis scoring system rules to you.
Charlie S
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2017
Though tennis is a thrilling and exciting game, you will understand the game properly only if you know the scoring in detail. As for the history of this concept, it is believed by many people that its rules originated in the medieval numerology. As per this system, the number or score of sixty was the winning score after securing points in the sequence of fifteen, thirty, and forty five. The circular movement of the clock can be compared to the scores of this system as with every score, we move ahead by a quarter. But, the concept of the score forty was not explained by this system.
The Procedure
  • A game can be won by winning four points
  • A set can be won by winning six games
  • The tennis match can be won by winning two (or three) sets
The scoring explained in this article is based on the performance of two players, say Y and Z. After the toss is over, and if Y wins, he can either serve the opponent or choose the side of court and receive a serve from the opponent or pass on the decision to Z.
Let us assume that Y decides to serve first. The condition for Y is that he should get his service right in two chances otherwise Z wins a point. If Y gets the serve right, then the rally between the two players begins till one of them misses or loses a point. Remember - the tennis ball has to be returned after only one bounce and should land inside the court to win a point. If Y wins the first point after a rally, the referee will announce the score as 15-0 or 15-love. In case, the next point is won by Z, the scores will be 15-15 or 15 all. If Z wins the next point, the score will be announced as 15-30. Now, consider that Y wins the next point and levels the score at 30-30 or 30 all. Now, if Y wins the next point, the score will be announced as 40-30.
After this point, the situation might be slightly confusing to understand. If Y wins the next point, he will be the winner of the game. However, if Z wins it, the scores will be 40-all and the referee calls for a deuce. In the case of a deuce, it is necessary for both the players to win two points in a row. After winning one point, by either of the players, the situation is termed as advantage Y or advantage Z. If the player with the advantage wins the next point, then he wins the game. If he fails to win, then the scores are again referred to as deuce. However, some tennis matches adopt the no-ad scoring in which the player who wins the next point after the duece wins the game.
After playing the first and every next game which is odd numbered, the two players will change sides. A set can be won by winning six games by a margin of two or more games. However, if the score is 6-5 or 5-6 and if the player with the score 6 reaches 7, he wins the set by 7-5 or 5-7 respectively. In case the scores turn to be 6-6 within a set, players play a tiebreaker which is a best of 12 points. The points in tiebreakers are noted with counting numbers like 1, 2, 3 and so on. Service is done by the player winning the game just before the tiebreaker, and is given to other player for serving two points, and continued till the set is won. The one who wins the tiebreaker wins the set by 7-6.
By winning two sets (best of three) the match can be won, while in men's tennis, match is won after winning three sets (best of five). The best of three format is for the female players. There are doubles matches which are of two sets and have a match deciding a tiebreaker of ten points.
After studying the above mentioned scoring system, all your doubts would have been cleared. With actual tennis practice, you will understand the basics of the game much better.
Tennis Score