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Tennis Terms

The Definitive List of Tennis Terms and Their Meaning

Tennis is a great spectator sport, and an enthusiast must be well aware of all the terms that are used. This list will give you a brief rundown about the most commonly used terms related to this sport.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2017
There are tons of tennis words that one can learn, and as one progresses in the game, more and more words begin popping up. But at the very beginning, the knowledge of some basic words or phrases is essential.
Ace: When the serve goes untouched by the receiver, it is known as an ace. This results in a point for the server.
Ad Court: The left side of each player's side of the court.
Advantage: When a player wins the first point of a deuce, it is known as an advantage. He now needs one more point to win the game.
All: The term used when both players have the same score. For example, 15-15 and 30-30 are also called 15-all and 30-all respectively. When both the players are on 40, it is known as a deuce.
Alley: The areas between the singles and doubles sidelines on the court.
ATP: The men's professional circuit, also known as the Association of Tennis Professionals.
Backhand: When the ball is hit by swinging the racket around the body, it is a backhand shot. A right-handed player will play a backhanded shot when the ball is on his left side.
Ball boy: A male or female child who has to retrieve the balls that are out of play on the court. They also throw the ball to the server before service.
Baseline: The farthest boundary at the ends of the rectangular court. The server must always serve from behind the baseline.
Break: If the receiver goes on to win the game, it is called a break.
Break Point: One point away from breaking the service, that is, winning the game as a receiver. Break points are the scores 30-40 or 40-advantage. 15-40 means that the receiver has double break point, and at 0-40, triple break point.
Challenge: To challenge an official call by the chair umpire or the line judge. The dispute is resolved using Hawkeye technology. However, this is limited to only challenging the line calls. Foot faults cannot be challenged.
Change-over: When the players change sides of the court.
Court: The rectangular area in which the game is played.
Deuce: The score of 40-40, here a player must win 2 consecutive points to win the game.
Deuce Court: The right side of each player's side of the court.
Double Fault: 2 consecutive faults by the server. It results in the point being won by the receiver.
Doubles: A game played by 4 players, with 2 on each side of the court.
Fault: A bad service that doesn't land in the service area.
Foot Fault: A fault that occurs as a result of the server stepping on or over the baseline while serving.
Forehand: A shot that is hit with the racket by swinging it across the body. It is the opposite of a backhand, and a ball that falls on the right side will be hit with a forehand by a right-handed player.
Game Point: When the player who is leading needs only one more point in order to win the game.
Golden Set: Winning an entire set without losing a point.
Grand Slam: The 4 biggest tennis tournaments in a calendar year, namely the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Grunting: The noise released by the players as they hit the ball. Most famous being Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
Hold: When the server goes on to win a game, it is known as hold or holding the serve.
ITF: The world governing body of tennis, the International Tennis Federation.
Jamming: Hitting or returning the ball straight into the opponents body is known as jamming.
Line Judge: A person who judges whether a ball fell within or outside the boundary lines.
Lob: A shot in which the ball is hit high above the net and the other players head, usually when the opponent is close to the net trying to attempt a volley.
Match Point: When the person leading needs only one more point to win the match, it is known as a match point.
Mixed Doubles: A game played by 4 players with one male and one female on either side.
Out: Any ball that falls outside the boundary lines.
Rally: Continuous exchange of shots that goes on till one person loses the point. Some rallies can carry on for long durations.
Receiver: The person who is receiving the serve is known as a receiver.
Second Serve: If the first serve resulted in a fault, the server can try again. A double fault means that the point is lost.
Serve: The first shot of the game, where the ball is hit into the opponent's court.
Service Game: A game where the server wins without letting the receiver win a single point.
Set Point: When a person is one point away from winning the set.
Singles: A game played between 2 players.
Straight Sets Victory: A victory in which a player does not lose a single set.
Tiebreaker: When the set is at 6-6, a tiebreaker is adopted. The player who reaches 7 points first, wins the tie break. However, if the score is tied at 6-6 in the tiebreaker, a difference of two points is needed to win it. Each player gets to serve twice, except for the first server who serves only once.
Umpire: The person who sits on the chair and presides over the match, calls the points, and enforces all the rules.
Volley: A shot where the ball is struck before it is allowed to bounce on the ground, usually near the net.
WTA: The professional women's circuit, abbreviated for the Women's Tennis Association.
So, this was a list that can help out a beginner who is new to the game. As you start gaining more experience and exposure, you will start learning some advanced terms. In the meantime, this list should suffice.