Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

Tennis Terms for the Beginner

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 8/23/16 10:09 AM


Do you speak tennis? Like practically every other sport, tennis has its own set of terms and jargon that might sound a little confusing to the beginner. If you're just starting out or want to be better informed while you watch matches, you can use the following list of basic tennis terms to help you expand your tennis vocabulary. Then click here to learn more about the rules of tennis!

  • Ace - A serve where the returning player never touches the ball with his/her racquet, giving an immediate point to the server. This is considered to be one of the most advantageous points in tennis, because you're able to win the point without having to exchange strokes. Tennis great Pete Sampras would often win matches in which the majority of his points were aces.
  • Advantage - A key turning point in a game where the score is tied 40-40 (a.k.a. "40-all"), and the player who wins the next point will have the advantage, putting them in a position to win the game upon scoring the following point. Should the player with advantage lose the next point, the score will revert back to 40-all.
  • Alley - The area on either side the court that runs lengthwise between the singles (inner) and doubles (outer) boundary lines.
  • Backhand - A tennis stroke where you hit the ball with the back side of the tennis racquet. If you're a right-handed player, a backhand stroke means that you're hitting a ball coming towards the left side of your body, and vice-versa.
  • Baseline - Keeping in mind that a tennis court is rectangular, the baselines are the two shorter lines that run the width of the court, and are parallel to the net. The baseline is where players stand when they serve the ball.
  • Center Line - The small line at the very middle of each baseline that sticks out perpendicular to the baseline. The center line acts as a dividing line to help players know where they can stand when serving the ball; for a serve to be legal, you must stand either to the left or the right of the center line.
  • Crosscourt - A tennis shot where the ball is hit at a sharp diagonal angle into the opponent's court.
  • Deep Shot (or Deep Ball) - A shot where the ball lands very close to the baseline, near the very rear of the court.
  • Deuce - A score of 40-40. In order for a player to win a deuce, he/she must score two points in a row.
  • Drop Shot - A very soft shot where the ball barely makes it over the net with very little momentum. Drop shots are often used to draw opponents closer to the net.
  • Fault - A serve in which the ball does not land inside of the service box on the opposing player's side of the court. If a player faults on two serves in a row (called a "double fault"), they lose the point.
  • Foot Fault - A serve in which the player's foot touches the baseline or center line. A foot fault causes you to automatically lose that service attempt.
  • Forehand - Perhaps the most common stroke in tennis; forehands are when you hit a ball that is coming to the same side of your body where your racquet is held.
  • Groundstrokes - Another word for basic forehand or backhand strokes.
  • Head - The oval-shaped part of the tennis racquet that has strings.
  • Lob - A ball that is hit high over the opponent's head, for the purpose of trying to land the ball behind the opponent. Lobs are often used to get opponents away from the net.
  • Love - A score of zero in tennis. For example, if the score is 15-0, that would be called "15-love."
  • Match Point - Usually a very exciting time in a match, because it's the point where the player in the lead is only one point away from winning the entire match.
  • Overhead - A power shot in which a player hits the ball with the racquet above their head. An overhead is sometimes called a "smash."
  • Rally - A series of consecutive back-and-forth shots by each player before someone wins the point. Long rallies are usually a source of big excitement during a match.
  • Return of Serve (or just "Return") - The first shot by a player receiving a serve from his/her opponent.
  • Serve - The shot that starts the point, initiated from behind the baseline.
  • Service Box - The four smaller rectangles closest to the net (two on each side). The serving player must hit the ball inside of the opposing player's service box for it to be a valid point.
  • Spin - Any type of rotation of the ball that causes it to bounce in an odd direction when it lands.
  • Stroke - The term used to describe hitting the tennis ball.
  • Topspin - A type of spin put on the ball by a stroke, causing the ball to bounce high and forward. In flight, topspin shots usually dip or drop to the court faster than they normally would without the added spin.
  • Volley - A shot where the ball is hit before it is allowed to bounce in the player's court. Most volleys are short-range shots that happen at the net.

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Topics: Tennis

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