Most Important Tennis Rules ! Basic Guide for Singles and Double Tennis

Tennis is a unique sport that is played both competitively and for leisure. Whether you are playing just for fun or to become a more professional player, you must know the rules of the game and how to win one.

Simply put, the player who wins’ the first toss starts to serve. With each player in his own boundary the target is to win the most sets in order to win the match. Single tennis games usually consists of 3-sets while doubles have 5- sets.

Tennis rules are almost alike in both singles and doubles matches, however, doubles tennis has some variations in the rules due to the different number of players.

For other tennis FAQs, please read Tennis FAQ: Common and Unforced Errors in Tennis and Tennis FAQ: How Much Tennis Should Kids Play? and Top 15 Tips to Avoid Tennis Elbow – Must Read.

General Tennis Rules

The tennis rules that specifies to both singles and doubles match, are the general rules that are given below:

  1. The most basic rule of Tennis is that the game starts with a toss, and the winning player gets a serve.
  2. Players have to remain within the boundary.
  3. Players remain at their respective ends and are not allowed to go to the opponent’s side.
  4. The ball must not touch the person, or else it may be counted as a penalty.
  5. Players are not allowed to touch the Tennis net or the posts, or cause any disturbance for the opponent.
  6. Penalty is considered in case of verbal abuse between the players.
  7. Player loses a point if the ball hits the net.
  8. Point is not counted if player does not hit the ball after it has hit the ground twice.

Singles Tennis rules

Rules for singles tennis are quite simple and are exactly the same as the general rules.

The match begins with a toss, and whoever wins the toss gets a chance to serve first.

A singles match in most likely played in best-of-three tiebreak sets, which is also the most common format of tennis match.

Doubles Tennis rules

Double Tennis Players

Doubles match also starts with the toss, and the winning team leads the serving in the entire duration of first game. Doubles is mostly played in best-of-five sets. If both the teams have won five sets, then the next set i.e. sixth one, decides the ultimate winner of the match.

Doubles tennis involves total of 4 players, i.e. two vs. two competition. Also, in doubles the boundaries are extended, the court size becomes wider.

Objective and aim of the game

The aim of every player in tennis is exactly the same, that is, to hit the ball across the net in such a way that the opponent player is unable to hit it back and so the player wins a point. Also the basic aim of tennis throughout the world is to maintain the best sportsmanship and its uniqueness, which is possible by maintaining healthy and energetic environment throughout the court.

In order to win a match, a player has to:

  • Points to win games
  • Games to win sets
  • Sets to win matches

Scoring method

The scoring method in tennis depends on the match requirements that are explained below:

Points > Games > Sets > Match

Points, the smallest scoring unit, which begins with love (0) and further increases from 15-30-40-game. If one wants to win the game, he/she has to attain a lead of at least 2 points from the above mentioned four points.

Tennis scoring

Games, having won 40-40 points by each player or teams, the match becomes a tie, and this is known as ‘Deuce’. For a player to win a set, which is explained further, it is necessary to win two points of the game.

Sets, a player/ a team may win one set by winning 6 games with the lead of at least 2 points. In most matches, either of the two sets format is used, that are

  1. Advantage set:  the player needs to win six games with leading advantage of two points of the game, and if a game score of 6-6 is attained on either side, then the team or player having the lead of 2 games, will obviously win the match.
  2. Tie-breaker set: tie breaker set was basically launched to quicken the match. On a score of 6-6, tie-breaker match is played, in which a player has to score a set amount of points, that is, to score 7 points with the advantage of two points in order to win the match.

Match, is composed of sets that are in odd numbers and to win the match, player or team has to score the maximum number of sets. Most probably the matches are best-out-of-3-sets or 5-sets.

Equipment, gear rules and specs

Tennis equipment quality is something on which the players do not compromise at all. Equipment includes: a stringed racket, tennis ball, shoes and proper attire. These equipment are the most important and mandatory ones.

Tennis Gear

Tennis Racquet could be of any type and any material, what matters the most is the tight grip of the strings in the racket, and also the handle of the racket which should be made up of good and hard quality so that the player may get a good grip on it.

Tennis Racket specification:

  • An average weight of a good tennis racket is around 300 grams. However, the weight of racquet used must consider your skill level and abilities.
  • Usually, a light headed racket has a balance less than 34.5cm and a heavy headed racket has a balance of more than 34.5cm.
  • The length of nearly every racket is 27 inches.
  • An average string pattern for a racket is 16/19, that is, 16 main and 19 cross.

All these specifications might help you in buying a perfect and suitable racket for yourself.

Tennis balls are semi spherical half shells that are made of pressurized rubber that gives the ball its fine appearance and strength.

Tennis shoes are not just random running shoes, but are the special ones that give stability to the player and are comfortable enough to run sideways without sliding.

Attire for the players is their own choice. The dress is chosen mostly looking into the comfort of the players. The dress is made of smooth polyester like material that has the ability to absorb sweat and keeps the player calm and composed.

Other common tennis equipment, which a player might buy for his own convenience or out of his own free will, may include:

Sunscreen, so that a player doesn’t get a skin rash or a skin burn.

Sweat bands, that help absorb the excessive sweat on the grips of the rackets (as in excessive hot weather), and would allow the player to carry on his game without any hindrance.

Wrist assist, that reduces wrist strokes and helps in preventing wrist injuries and wrist pain.

Meaning of lines in tennis court

Lines are drawn in the tennis court to make a specific boundary that the players are not allowed to cross and also they are not allowed to throw the balls outside that boundary, or a penalty would be charged. Any ball outside the boundary would be considered as out of the play.

Tennis Court lines
  • The line at the each end of the court is called as the Baseline; it covers the full length of the court. Baseline is further divided by a center mark, 4inches long and 2inches wide, also called as the Hash mark, which represents the middle of the court to the servers.
  • Singles sidelines are also drawn in the singles match and they run lengthwise. If a ball without bouncing lands outside the singles sidelines, it is considered out of play.
  • Service lines, parallel lines to the net, located in between the baseline and net, are the service lines. It acts as a boundary for the area of play for a serve.
  • The area that happens to lie between the service lines and sidelines is the Forecourt.
  • The center service line is drawn which is 2inches, and it divides the forecourt into two areas on either side of net, called as the Deuce Court and the ‘ad’/ advantage court.
  • And lastly, between service boxes and baselines is the Backcourt.

Serves and rally

What actually a serve is? A serve basically is the first stroke that starts every point in a match. A player that wins the toss in the start of the game is given the first serve and is called as the server.

The server if manages to make a point out of his serve, it is a plus point for him, and if the server fails his first serve, he/ she is given a chance of second serve, and if he fails that too, then he loses a point.

A serve, is a technical stroke and many players struggle with it.

Calm, relax and composed mind of a player might get him/ her a point with good fundamental serve technique.

Rally, is the sequence of back and forth strokes between the players that starts with a serve and probably ends on a serve by getting a point to one of the players.

How to Win a Tennis match ?

How to win a tennis match ?

Winning a tennis match is the ultimate desire of every tennis lover. A few tips might help in winning a tennis match, described below:

  • Having understood the rules of the game, and playing accordingly will be the first step on a path of winning.
  • Understanding opponents’ style and moving pattern would help the player to preplan his moves and so he could play according to it and gain enough points.
  • Paying attention to the opponents’ court position and strike zone at contact will enable the player to through his shots in a planned manner.
  • Making strategies in mind, and playing smartly, will increase the chance of winning.
  • Try hard enough to score the first two points in order to get a lead advantage further, and this could be possible when the player would throw shots that the opponent would most likely fail to tackle.
  • Staying within the boundary lines of the court, and obeying each and every rule will also be a step to winning.
  • Avoiding abusive language, unwanted distractive gestures and maintaining discipline with the fellow player would be a healthy factor in winning too.
  • Focused mindedness would reduce mistakes and in this way the player won’t be giving free chances of winning to his opponent.

Breaking a tennis game tie “Deuce”

In a typical match of singles, when both the players have reached 40-40 points, that is called as Deuce as already mentioned above, and to further proceed with it, a tie-breaker set is played.

If the score is 6-6 on either side, then a final set is played and with an advantage of 2 points, a player can win the match easily.

Tie-breaker matches are usually played to shorten the matches and keeping them in their regular format, that is, best of-three-sets or five-sets.


Tennis, termed as a “Sport for a lifetime” is the most competitive sport in the world. A vast range of its rules are helpful in maintaining discipline throughout the court, leading to fair wins, and having best alternatives for the tie-breaker matches.

Therefore, the rules are extensive and cover all the aspects of tennis, thus helping the players in enjoying a safe and just environment.

To sum up, get out there start scoring points to win the set to guarantee the match !

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