Rules of Tennis
Understanding the game of tennis can be confusing, but the rules of tennis do not have to be out of your reach. With these simple guidelines, you will know what's going on the next time you watch or play a game of tennis.
Rules of Tennis - How to Begin
A game of tennis starts with a coin toss. The winner of the coin toss gets to choose who will serve the ball and who will receive. They also have the option of deciding which side of the court each player will start the game on.
Rules of Tennis - Service
Service is tennis-talk for serving the ball. Service is the start of a tennis game and a point as well. Once the ball has been successfully served, play continues as long as the ball stays in play. This means that you can keep hitting the ball back and forth - all on one point - as long as one of the players doesn't miss the ball, hit the ball into the net or hit the ball out of bounds.
When serving the ball, the server has to stand behind the baseline and to the right of the service mark and inside the sideline. The server throws the ball up and has to hit it over the net, without touching it, and into the service area of the court on the opponent's side. You get two chances to deliver a successful serve, and a missed serve is called a fault. If you miss both chances, you lose the point.
Rules of Tennis - Playing
Once the serve makes it to the other side of the court, the receiver has to hit it back to keep the play going. The served ball must bounce one time before the receiver returns it over the net. After the serve, the receiver can hit the ball before it bounces or after one bounce. Play stops if the ball bounces twice.
Play continues as long as each player hits the ball over the net, without touching it, and keeps the ball inside the baselines. In order to remain in play, the ball must also stay inside the singles sideline during a singles game or within the doubles sideline if you're playing doubles. The ball is not considered out if it lands directly on the line.
In a singles game, the players change sides from left to right after every point So, if you are the server and you just served from the right side of your end of the court, after the point you move to the left side at the same end of the court for the next serve. The receiver does the same.
For doubles, only the server switches to the other side from left to right. The receiving players stay in the same place, so each one is able to receive a serve.
The game ends when one player reaches a score of 40 - or scores 4 points - and has a score at least 2 points over the opponent.