To put the tennis scoring system as simply as possible, one must win:
• four points to win a game
• six games to win a set
• two (or, more rarely, three) sets to win
We'll call the players A and B.
By winning a coin toss or a spin of the racquet, A gets to choose one of the
• receive serve
• choose an end of the court
• have B choose
Let's say A chooses to serve. B then gets to choose an end of the court. A may serve from anywhere behind her baseline
between the right singles sideline and the center mark. The serve must be struck before the ball bounces, and it must land
in the service box diagonally opposite her. She gets two chances to get a serve in. If she misses both, she loses the point.
If a serve that is otherwise good nicks the net on its way in, it is redone.
If A gets her serve in, B must return the
ball, after exactly one bounce, into any part of A's singles court.
A and B must then return the ball, after no more than one bounce, into one another's singles court until one of them misses.
will serve from the left side of her baseline for the second point of the game, and she will continue to alternate right and
left for the start of each point of the game.
Let's say A wins the first point. At the start of the next point, she must announce the score, her point total first: "15
- love." (Love = 0.)
B wins the next point: "15 all."
B wins the next point: "15 - 30."
A wins the next point: "30
A wins the next point: "40 - 30."
If A wins the next point, she wins the game.
If B wins the next point, the score is "40 all," which is called "deuce."
At deuce, one player must win the next two points to win the game. If, at deuce, A wins the next point, she has the advantage,
and the score is called "ad in," which means server's advantage. If B had won that point, the score would have been "ad out."
If the player having the advantage wins the following point, he or she wins that game. If the player with the advantage loses
the point, the score returns to deuce.
Playing a Set with a Tie-Break
At the end of the first and every odd-numbered game, the players switch ends of the court, and the player who served the
previous game now receives serve. The server always begins a game by serving from the right. At the start of each game, she
announces the number of games each has won, starting with her own score, for example, "3 - 2."
Once a player has won six games by a margin of two or more, he or she has won the set. If the score within a set reaches
6 - 6, the players may either continue to try to reach a margin of two (such as 8 - 6 or 9 - 7), or they may play a tie-break
to decide the set. In tournament play, this choice will have been determined in advance, but recreational players often choose
whichever option appeals to them at the moment.
In a standard "12-point tie break" (best of 12), one player must win seven points by a margin or two or more.
The player who received in the game preceding the tie-break serves the first point of the tie-break, starting from the
right. The other player then serves the next two points, the first from the left, then the second from the right. Each player
continues serving two points per turn. Points are scored with counting numbers ("1, 2, 3 . . ."). When the point total reaches
six and each multiple of six, the players switch ends of the court.