Tennis / Tennis Etiquette

West Deptford High School

Physical Education


  • There are 4 points in a game.  The server calls them as 15, 30, 40, GAME.  If a team has not scored a point, their score is "LOVE".  The server should call his/her team's score first.  A team must win a game by 2 points.
  • When both teams have scored three points (40-40) the server calls DEUCE and the next point won by a team is scored ADVANTAGE for that team, or anytime after when both teams have the same number of points. 
  • ADVANTAGE IN (ADD IN): This means that the serving team has the advantage (after deuce), and if they win the next point it will be GAME.
  • ADVANTAGE OUT (ADD OUT):  When the receiving team has the advantage (after deuce), and if they win the next point it will be game.
  • (In "no add" scoring, call 1,2,3,4.    4 points is a game; no need to win by two.)
  • To win a SET you must win 6 games and be ahead by 2 games.
  • To win a MATCH you must win the best of 3 SETS or 5 SETS.



  • First serve is decided by spinning a racket.
  • One player serves an entire GAME. 
  • The server's first serve is always from the right side.  The serve must go diagonally into the opponents' right service court.  On the next point, the server serves from the left side.
  • If the serve is inbounds (in the receiver's right service court), s/he should play the ball without comment.  If the serve is not inbounds, the receiver should call "OUT" loud and clear.
  • The server is given two chances for a good serve.  The first serve should be an attempt to ACE (a serve so hard, the receiver cannot return it).  If it fails, the next serve will be softer so that the server can guarantee a good serve.  If neither serve is inbounds, it is called a  DOUBLE FAULT and the serving team loses the point to the opponents.
  • Teams switch ends after odd-numbered games.  Switch after the first game, after the third gamefifth game, etc.
  • In doubles, if team AC is playing BD, A serves first, teams switch sides, then B serves, then C serves, teams switch sides once more, then D serves, and then A again, etc.
  • The receiver must wait for the ball to bounce on a serve.



  • If a ball hits a line it is GOOD

A team will win a point if the opponent:

  • allows the ball to bounce twice

  • returns the ball out of bounds or into the net

  • reaches over the net to hit the ball

  • throws the racket to hit the ball

  • touches the net with any part of the body or racket

  • does anything to hinder the opponent playing the ball; loud noises, stamping feet, etc.



  • For general positioning on the court (in singles), in the “ready position”, you should stand or position yourself behind the center mark on the baseline.  You should attempt to get yourself back to this position after each volley.
  • If playing doubles, usually one player plays "UP" near the net and the other plays "BACK" to play all the balls that are hit deep.
  • The net player should keep his/her eyes on the opposing net player to anticipate and respond to that player cutting off a shot from your teammate AND attempt to cut off any shot made by the opponents back player.  The net player should NEVER look back.



  • ACE:  good serve that is not touched by the opponent.
  • LET:  serve or point that is to be replayed because of some type of interference.
  • DOUBLE-FAULT:  failure to get a serve in after two consecutive services.
  • SET POINT:  point, that if won, allows a player to win the SET.
  • MATCH POINT:  point, that if won, allows a player to win the MATCH.
  • WIDE:  a shot that lands beyond the sideline.
  • NET ON SERVE:  When a serve touches the net and bounces in FAIR TERRITORY, the serve is taken over.  (If it bounces out of bounds or out of fair territory, it is not taken over.)  If this happens on the first serve, the player is entitled two more serves.  If it happens on the second serve, the player is entitled one more serve.
  • FOOT FAULT:  when the server steps on the baseline or into the court before the racket meets the ball.  This is a FAULT, and the point is lost to the opponent.
  • NO MAN’S LAND:  the back court area, where players often get caught standing, instead of being behind the baseline.



  • Tennis is known as a “gentleman’s or lady’s game.”  Honesty is the key, because there are no judges, referees, etc., unless you play in the pros.  A common rule is if you are in doubt as to whether the opponent's ball was good or not, CALL IT GOOD.
  • Do not ask spectators for a ruling.
  • Take all practice serves before the match.
  • Do not use loud or abusive language.
  • If your ball goes into someone else’s court, WAIT until they are done their rally, and then politely get the ball.  NEVER barge onto their court, or call to them, because you would distract them.
  • Don’t walk behind the player to get a ball while he is playing.  This is also distracting.  WAIT until the point is over and play has stopped.
  • Don’t talk to your opponent while you are in play.  WAIT until the point is over before conversing.  Concentration plays a big role in tennis.

Proper Tennis Etiquette

Tennis has official regulations that players must abide by, but there are also numerous unwritten rules that are equally important for any novice or serious player to know. Whether you are a recreational player or interscholastic athlete, it’s crucial that you are familiar with tennis etiquette. The last thing players want to do is start an altercation, and you can avoid confrontations if you are aware of the general courtesies and basic rules.


If you’re playing singles, you should always warm up with your opponent before your match begins. However, this is not the time to practice competitively. For the most part, you shouldn’t hit at full pace and you certainly shouldn’t try to hit winners. Place your shots around the middle of the court so your opponent can easily return the ball without having to hustle around the court.

You should stop the ball and catch it when you’re warming up your serves. Additionally, you should not hit returns unless you warn your opponent and let him know that you’d like to take a few practice service returns. You can warm up with your partner, rather than your competition, if you’re playing doubles.

Ball Management

Players should always keep a tennis ball in their hand, pocket, or ball clip during a match. Even the most patient tennis players despise waiting for their opponent to find a ball to serve. If you notice that your opponent is searching for a ball, take a look around your side of the court. If you find a ball, slowly hit it so that he can easily catch it without having to run around the court.

Try to keep any extra tennis balls against the back fence. Tennis balls are a hazard if they are lying around the court. So, keep them flush against the fence so you can easily pick them up when needed.

Keeping Score

The server should always announce the set score before the start of each game and the game score before each point. State the score loudly and in a clear voice; you do not want to recap each point at the end of the game if there is any confusion. Additionally, announcing the score lets the receiver know that you are ready to begin the next point.

Close Calls

If you cannot clearly tell whether your opponent’s shot is in or out, it’s in. You must be 100 percent sure you’re making the correct call, so the benefit of the doubt goes to your opponent if there’s any uncertainty on your part. To be safe, return all of your opponent’s shots regardless of whether it’s in play, and call the shot out in a clear voice if you know that it’s out.

You should not make calls on your own shots that land on the other side of the court. You have to respect your opponent’s decision and trust that they’re an honest player.

In doubles, you should not call balls wide if you are on the far sideline and your partner is closer to the ball. Most likely, your partner has a better angle to judge whether it landed in or out, so rely on your teammate’s judgment. Similarly, let your partner make the call if you are receiving a serve and your teammate is standing near the service line. He has a better angle to see the ball, and you should trust that he will make the right call.

Behavior & Attitude

Even if you’re playing badly, refrain from shouting or looking dejected in a friendly match. Undoubtedly, your attitude effects how you play, so try to have fun and stay positive. Additionally, it’s disrespectful to your opponent to look miserable after every point. Give them credit if they are beating you, and keep your head up.

Don’t talk in the middle of points. Your opponent may confuse your words and think that you are calling a shot out, so avoid unnecessary conversations. Talking is much more appropriate for a doubles team and is acceptable during a match.


Do not deliberately slow the game down. Play at the pace of the server, which is a 10-12 second rest after the last point ended, and look ready. You’re allowed to take 25 seconds in between points, but unnecessary lagging is frowned upon.

Likewise, servers should not rush to start each point, even if they prefer to play at an extremely fast pace. You should re-do the point if the server serves the ball before the receiver is ready. The receiver is out of luck, however, if he claims he was not ready after making an attempt at returning the serve.

Amazingly True Story


Former world number one women’s player Ana Ivanovic was penalized an entire game for taking a bathroom break during the second game of a set in October of 2010. The chair umpire told her to wait until the changeover, but Ivanovic misunderstood the umpire and left immediately.

After returning a few minutes later, Ivanovic was surprised to hear that she had been penalized four points, one for every 20 seconds she went over the allowed time limit. WTA rules specify that bathroom breaks are only allowed during set breaks, and that if a player needs to take one during a set, the break must come before that player’s service game. If it is not done during these times, the player is penalized for not being ready to play.

No worries, however, because Ivanovic cruised through the match 6-3, 6-2. Ivanovic then crushed the remaining players in the field, winning the tournament in Australia and cementing her place among the top women players in the world.



Stop play and re-start the point if a ball from another court rolls onto your court. You should always wait for the players on the other court to finish their point before you return their ball. You can keep the ball against the back fence on your court if you don’t want to interrupt their rally.

Enjoy the Game

Don’t feel uncomfortable or nervous about playing tennis because you’re unfamiliar with the traditional codes of conduct. It’s important that you understand tennis etiquette, but it’s more imperative that you have fun while you’re out on the court. Nevertheless, tennis customs are deep-rooted, so you should understand and familiarize yourself with these unwritten rules over time.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.