Introduction to Tennis

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What is Tennis?

Tennis is a game in which two (singles) or four players (Doubles). Each Player strike a ball (a felt-covered hollow rubber ball) with a tennis racket over a net stretched across a court.

The object of the game is to play the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Court surfaces can be grass (originally called lawn tennis) or clay and artificial surface.

Equipment

The only equipment required is a racket and ball. Rackets are made of carbon graphite, ceramics and titanium. Tennis racket had synthetic strings. The racket has a handle, known as a grip; the head of the racket has a matrix of tightly pulled strings.

Balls are hollow, rubber with a felt coating, yellow in colour. Balls are 2.57 and 2.7 inch in size and 565.0 to 59.4 grams in weight.

Court

Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface know as a court. With a net stretched across the full width of centre which is 3 feet high.

The court is outlined with baselines whish are at the rear of both half’s of the court. The service lines which are at the middle of each half of the court. The short mark at the centre of each base line is known as the hash mark or the centre mark. Outermost lines, which outline the length of the court, are the single and double side-lines. Used when playing either singles or double matches. The space between these two lines is known as the double alley. The line which runs run through the centre of each player’s side of the court is known as the service line. This is not where the player stands to make a serve; the service has to be delivered in the opposing player’s area between the net and the service line.

Scoring

Game

The first player to have won at least 4 pints in total and by at least 2 points more than the opposing player wins a game. The points scored are called in this order: zero (Love), 1st point (fifteen), 2nd point (thirty), 3rd point (forty). If a game is tied at forty-forty this is known as (deuce). The point after deuce is called (advantage) if the opposing player then levels the score this then returns the score to deuce. A player must win two consecutive points after deuce to win a game. The score is always read with the serving players score first. Game point occurs when a player only needs one point to win the game.

Set

A player wins a set by winning at least 6 games and by at least 2 clear games. Players alternate serve between games in each set. If the set is tied at 7 games all then a tie breaker is played. The tie break is decided by winning at least 7 points and by at least 2 clear points. If the tie break is 7-7 then play will continue until either player wins two consecutive points, winning the set.  Set point occurs when a player needs one point to win the set.

Match

A match is a sequence of sets. A match is the best of three or five sets system. Men tend to play best of five and women best of three. Match point is when a player needs one point to win the match.

Break point

Break point occurs when the non-serving player is first to either 4 points, or in the case of a deuce game, to advantage then break point. If a non-serving player is leading 40-love then they are known to have triple break point. If the score is 40-15 this is known as double break point, if the score is 40-30 then this is known as break point, as is advantage to the non-serving player.

Officials

Most professional and some amateur matches are officiated by an umpire, who sits in a raised chair on one side of the net. An umpire may be assisted by line judges who determine if the ball is out and can also call foot faults. There may also be a net judge who decides if the ball hits the net on service. In the professional game there is also a referee who is located off court but has the final authority on all tennis rules.

Ball boys/girls are also used in the professional game to retrieve tennis balls.

Shots

Serve

A serve is the first shot played by the serving player to the receiving player. Standing behind the base line on the opposite side of the service line to the receiving player. The server tosses the ball above their head and hits the ball above their head and into the opposite service box without touching the net. The server can hit over or under arm. If the serve hits the net but bounces into the correct diagonal box this is known as a let, the server gets two more serves to get the ball into the box with touching the net.

Forehand

A forehand is when a player returns the ball with the racket on the side of the player which ever handed they are, so for example a right handed player has the racket in their right hand and plays the shot from the right side across the body until contact is made with the ball and ends up on the left side of the body.

Backhand

Backhand shot begins with racket on the opposite side of the body, so for example a right handed player would hold the racket in their right hand but on the opposite side of the body (the left side) they would then continue across the body until contact is made with the ball and continue until the racket is on the right side of the body.

Other shots

A volley is when the ball is returned without it bouncing. A half volley is retuning the ball on the rise just after it bounces.

A lob is when the ball is hit high and deep in to the opposing player’s court over the opposing players head.

Overhead smash is when a hard over head shot, similar to a serve however in open play.

Drop shot is when the ball is tapped softly just over the net.

What are the Health benefits to tennis?

Tennis lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure. Tennis also helps reduce body fat and improves muscle tone, flexibility and strength. Tennis also increases aerobic capacities.

How do I choose the right tennis club?

Firstly you must decide if you are looking to compete or to just get fit. If you are looking to compete then you to join a gym with a hard surface playing court, as hard courts move the ball faster. Most tennis clubs offer coaching sessions from ex-pro players. If you would like to find out if they are registered with the National Tennis Rating program (NTRPP). If you are looking for your child to join a club then you need a club with a well-developed children’s program.