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Study Up! Doubles Tennis Vocab to Help You Understand the Game

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 10/13/16 3:43 PM

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Every sport comes with its own set of jargon, and doubles tennis is no exception. Use this glossary of terms as a reference to help you better understand the game.

  • Ace - A serve that wins due to the receiving player being unable to return the ball. For many aces, the returning player doesn't even get a chance to make contact with the ball.
  • Ad Court - The section of the court to the player's left when facing the net.
  • Ad In - Short for "Advantage in," and it means game point for the serving player.
  • Ad Out - Short for "Advantage out," and it means game point for the receiving player.
  • Advantage - A point in the game where the score is tied 40-40 (or "40-all"), where the player who wins the next point receives the "advantage," meaning that only one more point is required to win the game. Should the player with the advantage fail to secure the additional point, the score will revert back to 40-all.
  • Alley - The area of the court between the singles and doubles boundary lines. Whereas the alley is out of bounds in singles play, it is used in doubles tennis, and is often a prime target for strategic shots.
  • Australian Doubles - Court positioning in doubles tennis where both players in a doubles pair (server and partner) stand on the same side of the court when the ball is being served.
  • Backhand - A tennis stroke where the swing begins on the side of the body that is opposite of the racquet hand. For example, for a right-handed player, the backhand stroke starts on the left side of the body.
  • Backswing - The part of the tennis stroke where the player swings the racquet back before hitting the ball.
  • Baseline - The outermost boundary line of the court, parallel to the net. The baseline marks the end of the tennis court.
  • Break - The term used to describe a situation where the serving player loses the game.
  • Center Mark - The small line that marks the center of the court at the midway point of the baseline.
  • Crosscourt - A shot that is hit diagonally across the tennis court.
  • Deuce - A tied score of 40-40, or "40-all."
  • Deuce Court - The section of the court to the player's right when facing the net.
  • Double Fault - A situation in which the server loses a point due to two unsuccessful service attempts in a row.
  • Doubles Tennis - Tennis played with four players total (two players on each team).
  • Doubles Alleys - Same as the "alley;" the area of the court that is between the singles and doubles lines, and is only legal in doubles play.
  • Doubles Lines - The outermost boundary lines of the tennis court that are perpendicular to the net.
  • Down the Line - A shot that maintains a straight direction down the sideline.
  • Drop Shot - A finesse shot where the ball is lightly hit, so that it basically falls just over the net. This shot is used very often in doubles tennis, and is most effective when the opposing net player is not in position to defend the net.
  • Counterpuncher - A term used to describe a player who adopts a more defensive approach, often lingering back on the baseline to return shots.
  • Deep Shot - A shot in which the ball lands at the far end of the court, just inside the baseline.
  • Fault - A faulty serve, i.e., a serve that doesn't land within the opposing player's service box.
  • Forehand - A tennis stroke in which the swing begins on the same side of the body as the racquet hand, and is completed by the arm crossing the body during the follow-through.
  • Groundstroke - A shot (forehand or backhand) that is made after the ball bounces once in the receiving player's court.
  • Kick Serve - A serve with an excessive amount of spin, which gives the ball a high bounce.
  • Lob - A high shot that is intended to sail over the opposing player's head, but still lands within bounds.
  • Love - A score of zero in tennis.
  • Match Point - When a tennis player only needs to win one more point in order to win the entire match.
  • Overhead - A shot that looks similar to a serve, but is used while playing a point.
  • Poach - A term specific to doubles tennis, in which a player crosses over in front of their doubles partner in order to hit the ball. It is typically meant to trick opposing players using the element of surprise, and is typically a volley.
  • Rally - A lengthy exchange of consecutive shots before one of the players wins the point.
  • Serve - The overhead stroke that starts a tennis point, where the serving player hits the ball into the receiving player's court.
  • Serve and Volley - A commonly used tennis strategy where the serving player will serve the ball, and then immediately rush the net in order to score a point off the return using a volley.
  • Slice - A shot in which the player puts spin on the ball by hitting the underside of the ball.
  • Spin - A stroke technique that puts emphasis on rotating the ball a certain way in order to control its trajectory and/or speed.
  • Topspin - A spin technique that causes the ball to spin forward, typically dipping down fast and bouncing higher when it lands in the opponent's court.
  • Unforced Error - Any shot in which a player loses the point without any intervention from the opposing player. Failing to hit the ball over the net is an example of an unforced error.
  • Volley - A shot in which a player hits the ball with his/her racquet before the ball is allowed to bounce in their court. You will often see the net players use volley shots in doubles tennis matches.

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Topics: Tennis

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