One player tosses a ball into the air and then—WHAM!—smashes the ball with a racket. The ball flies over a net at more than 120 miles per hour. A second player on the other side of the net jumps quickly and smashes the ball back. A tennis match has begun!
WHAT IS TENNIS?
Tennis is an action-filled game played with rackets and a ball by two players or four players. It’s played outdoors or indoors, on a flat surface called a tennis court. The surface can be hard, like concrete or asphalt. It can also be made of clay or even of grass!
The court is a large rectangle. It’s divided in half by a net 3 feet (0.9 meters) high. White lines mark the outline of the court. Each player tries to hit the ball with the racket so that it goes over the net and bounces inside the lines on the other side.
HOW IS TENNIS PLAYED?
A tennis match is made up of points, games, and sets. Every point begins with a serve. A player serves by tossing the ball up and hitting it over the net. The players then hit it back and forth until a point is scored.
A point is scored if a player fails to hit the ball back, hits the ball into the net, or hits the ball so that it lands outside the lines.
Players take turns serving. One player serves for an entire game. The second player then serves during the next game.
Points in tennis are described using the terms love (0 points), 15 (1 point), 30 (2 points), and 40 (3 points). The serving player’s score appears first, followed by the other player’s score. That’s why you hear scores like “love-30” or “40-15” at a tennis match.
A player needs to score four points to win a game, but there’s a catch! You have to win by two points, not one. A game is played until one player is ahead by two points.
A player who wins six games can win a set. But once again, you have to win the set by two games. If the score is tied at 6 games each, a tiebreak usually decides the winner of the set. The player to first score seven points in the tiebreak, with a two-point lead, wins the set 7-6.
Some tennis matches don’t end with a tiebreak. They continue until one player is ahead by two games and wins. That’s why you sometimes see a score like 12-10 for the final set.
To win a tennis match of three sets, a player has to win two of the three sets. In a match of five sets, the winner must win three of the five sets. A typical score for a three-set match might look like this: 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. It means the winner won the first and third sets but lost the second.
So, remember: You win points to win a game. You win games to win a set. And you win sets to win a match. Got it?
Tennis is a popular sport to play and to watch. The best players in the world compete in tournaments in different cities. There are four major tournaments called grand slam events. They are the United States Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Wimbledon is played at a tennis club in Wimbledon, England, near London.