person holding red and white tennis racket

Tennis Terms List For Beginners

Tennis is a sport that can be difficult to understand for the uninitiated. Confused by all the jargon and terminology? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a guide to some of the most commonly used tennis terms, specially designed for those who are new to the game. Ready to ace your knowledge of tennis lingo? Let’s get started!

Have you ever heard someone shouting “Out!” during a match? What about when the umpire says “Deuce”? If you’re new to tennis, these terms might sound like gibberish. But don’t fret – they’re actually very simple concepts! In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth look at some of the basic words and phrases used in tennis. From ‘ace’ to ‘volley’, we’ll cover all the essential terms that beginners need to know.

For those just beginning their journey into the world of tennis, understanding the language of the game can be daunting. But with our comprehensive list of tennis terms, you’ll soon feel like a pro on court! So grab your racket and let’s dive into our guide – it’s time to learn all about tennis terminology!

Tennis Court

According to the Professional Tennis Registry, there are over 8,000 tennis courts in the United States alone. This massive number demonstrates the popularity of this great sport.

The most basic component of playing a game of tennis is the court itself. The court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for singles games, with an additional 3 feet on either side for doubles matches. The court is divided by a net that stretches across its center and stands three feet high at its highest point in the middle. Lines mark off different areas of the court, such as the baseline and service line.

The surface of a tennis court can vary from hardcourt surfaces made from asphalt or concrete to clay or grass surfaces, each offering its own unique set of challenges for players. The choice of surface often depends on where it’s located and what type of game is being played. With so many courts available worldwide, there’s no shortage of places to play!

Tennis Racquet

The tennis racquet is an essential tool in a player’s arsenal, one that can make all the difference between victory and defeat. Without one, it would be impossible to play the game! As such, it is of paramount importance that players take care when selecting a racquet. Joyfully, there are a multitude of options available with different shapes, sizes, and weights to suit any skill level or style.

For instance, beginner players may benefit from larger heads that provide more power and forgiveness on off-center hits. Meanwhile, seasoned competitors often opt for smaller frames to increase maneuverability for their faster swings. The grip size is also something to consider; too large or small can lead to discomfort and poor control over shots.

Thus, choosing the right racquet takes time and research but pays dividends in the end. Careful consideration of these minute details will help ensure you have the perfect companion on your court journey – one which will enable you to reach new heights! As you move forward into mastering the sport, don’t forget about the most important piece of equipment: tennis balls!

Tennis Balls

Forget about the good ol’ days, let’s jump into the world of tennis balls. These little round wonders are the backbone of any match. Tennis balls come in different sizes, colors and materials – but for beginners, it’s best to stick with standard yellow ones. Here are a few key points about this essential piece of equipment:

• Size: Tennis balls should be 2.5 inches (6 cm) in diameter • Pressure: Regulations require that tennis balls have a minimum internal pressure of 14 pounds per square inch (psi) • Weight: Regulation tennis balls weigh between 2.0 ounces (57 g) and 2.2 ounces (62 g).

It’s no secret that these spherically shaped pieces of rubber have a lot of impact on the game. In addition to keeping players bouncing around the court, they help determine the speed and spin of each shot. Plus, they can make or break a match – literally! For example, if your opponent is using an old or worn-out ball it will cause them to lose power and accuracy which can be a huge advantage for you.

On top of all of this, tennis balls also help keep players safe by providing cushioning from hard hits and long rallies. So when you’re out on the court don’t forget to bring some extra ones just in case! Without these little guys, there would likely be no game at all – so let’s take a moment to appreciate their importance before we move onto discussing how to properly serve…


The fourth term on the list of basics for a beginner in tennis is ‘serve’. Serving is an essential part of the game and one of the most important parts of a successful match. The server is responsible for initiating each point with a serve, and they must do so within the rules of the game.

A serve can take different forms, such as a flat serve, slice serve, or kick serve. The main points to remember when serving are to make sure your feet are behind the baseline, toss the ball up before striking it, and keep your head still during your swing. It’s also important to hit with enough power to get it over the net and into the opponent’s service box.

The purpose of a good serve is not just to get it into play; it should also be placed strategically so that you can put your opponent at an advantage for their return shot. Knowing how to effectively place your serves will give you an edge in any match and help you win more points than if you just aimlessly hit them without thought or technique.

For every successful serve comes a return shot from the opponent, which brings us to our next topic: returns…


A good return can be the difference between winning and losing close rallies. According to a survey by the USTA, 97% of tennis matches are won or lost based on how well the players return shots.

Returning a shot is about more than just hitting the ball back over the net. It requires anticipating where your opponent will send it and being in position to hit it back accurately. A good return also needs to have enough power to reach your opponent’s court before they can get there themselves.

Players who are successful at returning do so by making strategic decisions and using their knowledge of spin and angles. They adjust their positioning depending on which side they expect their opponent’s shot to go, and carefully time their swing depending on how hard the ball is travelling. This combination of decision-making and skill allows them to make powerful returns that put them in control of the point.

The ability to make effective returns is essential for any competitive player looking to win points and matches…


An ace is a serve in tennis that is so powerful or accurate that the opponent cannot manage to return it. A player earns an ace when their serve is not touched by the opponent’s racquet and lands in the service box. It’s a point-winning shot and the server can score an ace with any type of serve.

The term ‘ace’ has been used in tennis since the late 19th century, although its origin remains unknown. It’s thought that it might have been derived from the phrase ‘serving an ace’, which was already in use at the time.

Ace serves are important as they often determine whether a player will win or lose a point. They’re also useful for intimidating opponents, as they demonstrate mastery of power and accuracy on the court. This leads us to our next term: deuce.


Ah, deuce. Greeted with a mix of dread and excitement by players on the court, this term is one of the most infamous in tennis. Delicately balanced between triumph and failure, it can be difficult to decide which side of the coin will be victorious in the end.

As a beginner, it can help to understand what exactly ‘deuce’ means. In essence, this term is used when both players have an equal score of forty points in a game. It is then up to one of them to gain two more points in order to win the game – no easy feat! This can mean that rallies are longer and more intense as each player strives for those two extra points.

However, once they are achieved, there’s no denying that sense of accomplishment when one earns a game off deuce. While it may be daunting at first to find yourself facing off against your opponent while at deuce, with practice comes confidence – so keep playing and you’ll soon find yourself triumphing over deuce! With that being said, let’s move onto the next tennis term: volley.


Ya can’t have a game of tennis without a volley! A volley is when two players hit the ball back and forth, back and forth like a ping-pong match. It’s basically one of the most exciting aspects of any tennis match.

In a volley, the ball doesn’t usually bounce before it reaches the other player. Instead, it’s all about reflexes, quickness and agility. You’ve gotta move fast to get to the ball and return it to your opponent in time. And you’ll definitely want to practice this skill if you’re looking to become an ace on the court (pun intended!).

A good volley can really turn the tide in a game of tennis – there’s nothing like returning an amazing shot with an even better one! So don’t forget to practice your volleys if you’re aiming for greatness on the court. Up next? Groundstroke!


Ah, the timeless art of the groundstroke. It’s like a dance – you make your way around the court in a waltz of movement and grace. A true master of tennis can exhibit their skill simply by performing this basic stroke!

So, what is a groundstroke? Simply put, it is any stroke taken while the player has both feet on the ground. This includes forehand and backhand strokes, which are two of the most important fundamentals in tennis. The goal is to hit with consistent power and accuracy, making sure that each shot lands within the boundaries of your opponent’s side of the court.

Groundstrokes can be used offensively or defensively, depending on the situation. In order to maximize your success with this stroke, practice returning shots from different angles and distances so that you can become familiar with how to react in different scenarios. With enough time dedicated to mastering your groundstrokes, you’ll be ready for anything your opponent throws at you! Now let’s move onto smashing…


The smash is the most exciting shot in tennis. Imagine it: the ball careening over the net, past your opponent, and landing just inside the lines of the court. It’s a shot that requires precision and skill, but also an element of strength and power. When executed correctly, it can be a devastatingly effective weapon for any player.

Here are four main components of a successful smash:

  1. Positioning – You must be in a good position to hit a powerful smash. This means you should be close enough to the net to make contact with the ball at its highest point.
  2. Timing – The timing of your swing should be precise so that you can hit the ball with maximum force when it is above net-level.
  3. Arm Extension – Your arm should extend as far as possible when hitting the ball to create maximum reach and power.
  4. Follow Through – Make sure you follow through after you hit the shot so that all your power is transferred into your swing.

A well-executed smash can be one of the most satisfying shots in tennis, both for its aesthetics and effectiveness. It’s no wonder why it’s such an iconic move among players! Let’s now discuss how ‘let’ works in tennis…


The let, like a phantom on the court, is ever-present yet often unseen. It’s one of those sneaky tennis terms that can be hard to spot, but can make all the difference in close matches. A let occurs when the ball hits the net cord and bounces back into play without touching the ground. In this case, the point is replayed and no points are awarded. This is particularly helpful for players if their shot was just barely out since they get another chance to hit it successfully!

When a let does occur, it’s important for both players to understand what happened so as not to dispute it later on. The referee should also be aware of a let in order to answer any questions from either player about why no points were awarded.

In some cases, a player may feel like a let should have been called but wasn’t — or vice versa — and disputes may arise between them and the referee or even their opponent. In order to avoid any confusion or possible arguments over calls, it’s essential that everyone involved knows what constitutes a legal serve or stroke and how to recognize a let when it happens. With this knowledge in place, it’ll be easier for everyone to move smoothly through matches with fewer disputes on court! Ready for the next topic? Let’s discuss line calls…

Line Call

Line calls are integral to the game of tennis and involve the umpire or line judges determining whether a ball was in or out. An interesting statistic is that in professional tennis, umpires make up to 3,000 line calls during a single match! Line calls can be made either by the umpire or by the players themselves. The player who makes the call must be sure they have seen where the ball landed so they can accurately assess whether it was in or out. This is easier said than done as professional players often hit their shots at speeds of over 100 miles per hour!

When challenging a line call, players can use an electronic review system known as Hawk-Eye. This system uses cameras to track where the ball lands on court and provides an accurate assessment of whether a shot was in or out. If Hawk-Eye confirms that a shot was indeed out then the point goes to their opponent. On the other hand, if it shows that the shot was actually in then the point is awarded to them and play continues.

Knowing when and how to challenge line calls accurately is key for all tennis players. Players should develop their eye for detail, become familiar with Hawk-Eye technology and trust their judgement when making calls on court. With practice, they will soon be able to confidently make line calls just like a pro! Now it’s time to look at another important element of tennis: the game itself…


You may think that ‘game’ is too obvious to include in a tennis terms list for beginners, but it’s important to understand the rules of the game. After all, if you don’t know what a game is, you won’t be able to score any points! Let’s look at what comprises a game:

  • A game consists of:
  • Two players competing against each other;
  • Four points (love, 15, 30 and 40); and
  • A score of two or more points over an opponent.

To win a game, you must have at least four points with a lead of two or more points over your opponent. If the score reaches 40-40 (called deuce), then the player who wins two consecutive points will win the game. The first player to win six games wins the set.

Therefore, understanding the concept of a ‘game’ is essential for any beginner looking to start playing tennis. It forms part of the building blocks that make up the sport and can help you gain an advantage over your opponents by correctly scoring and keeping track of your progress. Moving forward from here, let’s take a look at how we can use this knowledge when looking at ‘sets’.


Some may think that a set isn’t important in tennis, but it’s actually the main way to win a match! A set is a series of games, and the winner of the set is determined when one player has won six games with at least a two-game lead. Here are four reasons why sets are so important in tennis:

  1. Sets give each player an opportunity to even out mistakes. If one player makes a mistake during one game, they have time to make up for it in ensuing games.

  2. Sets add suspense and excitement to the game. With each game won or lost, you never know who will be victorious until all the games are played.

  3. Sets offer different strategies for players depending on how many points they’re leading by. Players can try to extend their lead or play more conservatively if they’re behind.

  4. The amount of sets played affects the overall outcome of the match. As such, players have to adjust their strategy throughout multiple sets as opposed to focusing all their efforts on just one game.

Sets raise the stakes of tennis matches and make them more interesting and complex than just playing one single game! Even though a set is only made up of individual games, each set brings its own drama which can shift the course of a match entirely—and that’s why it’s so important.


The match. Two opponents battling it out, every point a seemingly insurmountable challenge as they strive to be the one standing at the end. It’s an event that has captivated audiences for centuries, and its long-standing history is reflected in its symbolism.

A match is a set of games which determine the overall winner of a tennis game. As with any sport, it requires great skill and strategy to be victorious; players must outwit their opponents and stay focused on each point throughout the match. It’s a test of endurance and mental fortitude, as even one false move could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

At its heart, tennis is about competition – two people vying for supremacy over each other as they push themselves to their limits. A match brings this concept to life in an intense and thrilling way, making it no surprise that it continues to captivate its audience hundreds of years later. With so much on the line, the outcome often hangs in the balance until its very last point – creating an atmosphere of anticipation that few other sports can replicate.


Tennis is an exciting and popular sport enjoyed by people of all ages. Learning the language of tennis can help you understand the game and make it more enjoyable. This list of basic terms will help beginners get familiar with the terminology used in the sport.

With a bit of practice, anyone can become a skilled tennis player. According to Tennis Australia, participation in tennis has grown by 38% since 2012, showing that more and more people are getting involved in this great game.

Whether you’re playing casually or competitively, understanding tennis terms is essential for having fun and improving your skills. If you want to take your game to the next level, look into taking lessons from an experienced coach or join a local club. With some dedication and determination, you can become a skilled tennis player in no time!