Learning to Play Tennis – How to Play Tennis

Learning to play tennis includes the tennis scoring system, the court, types of tennis matches, the different shots, the proper tennis equipments to use and even the proper tennis attire.


Scoring is important to learn in learning to play tennis. Every tennis match consists of 3 or 5 sets depending on the types of tournaments and the divisions (men, women, professional or junior). Generally, tennis matches consists of 3 sets, thus the player or team that wins 2 sets first wins the match.

Some tournaments such as grand slams consists of 5 sets for the men’s division. In these matches, the player or team that wins 3 sets first wins the match. A tennis set is composed of games, while games are composed of points. A tennis game is a set of points played by one player or one team. The player or team that scores 4 points or two more than the opponent wins the game. A tennis score is unique as it is called in different manner. A game scores ranges from zero to three which are technically termed as love (zero), one (15), two (30) and three (forty). If both players have equal scores at three (40-40), this is called deuce which means that the player or team who scored two ahead of the other wins.

The next step in learning to play tennis is understanding how a game is played. A tennis set is a set of tennis games where each player or each team alternately serves. The set is won by the player or team who wins six games first if the trailing player/team only won 4 or less games. In case the leading player or team wins 6 games and the trailing player or team wins 5 games, an additional game is played. If the leading player or team wins, the game is over. However, if the trailing player or team wins the game, a tie-breaker is played. A tie-break is an additional game to determine the winner. Other tournaments such as in Grand slams do not use tie-break but instead, the set is extended until one player or team get two points ahead.

The Tennis Court

After learning to play tennis, the parts of the court is the next important part to know. A tennis court is rectangular in shape with the dimension of 27 feet wide (39 feet for doubles court) and 78 feet long. It is divided by a net with a height of 36 inches at the center strap. Each side of the court has a baseline (the farthest line parallel to the net). A ball that lands outside this line is considered wide (fault).

There are two white lines on each side of the court that make up the length of the court. The inner white line is the singles sidelines which is the line demarcation for singles matches. The outermost line is called the doubles sidelines which are also the line of demarcation for doubles matches. The space between the two sidelines is called the doubles alley which is only playable with doubles. The parallel line between the net and the baseline is called the service line. While the line at the center that is perpendicular to the net is called the center service line.

Tennis Singles and tennis doubles

Now the next thing in learning to play tennis is played. Tennis can be played between two players or between two teams with two players in each team. A tennis match that is played with only two players against each other is called tennis singles match. As described above, this is played in a smaller court dimension. On one hand, tennis doubles is played in the bigger court. The main different aspect between the two types of tennis matches is the size court. Scoring, types of court, shots, net height and so on are the same.

The tennis serve

In learning to play tennis, a tennis serve is the shot to start a point in tennis. The player who does the serve (server) stands either at the ad court (player’s left side court) or at the deuce court (player’s right side court). The player then starts the serve by tossing the ball into the air, hitting the ball diagonally so that it lands inside the service box. If the first serve lands outside the service box it is called fault and the player has to do the second serve. The second serve is the player’s last service chance thus if he or she misses again, a point is given to the opponent.

A let ball is when the ball touches the net but still lands on the service box. In both serves, the receiver (the player who is not serving) should return the ball to the server. If the receiver fails to hit or even touch the ball with his racket on the return, the server gets an ace point.

Shots in Learning to Play Tennis

There are different types of tennis shots use by players learning to play tennis. They are the tennis serve (as discussed above), forehand shot, backhand shot, volley (full and half volley), lob, approach shot and overhead. However, for beginners who are just learning to play tennis, the two most essential shots (the forehand and the backhand shots) should be prioritized.

Tennis Grips

There are different types of tennis grips used learning to play tennis. The main grip that beginners should familiarize when they are learning to play tennis are the most commonly used grips. They are the continental grip which is also called “The Handshake Grip”. Others main tennis grips include the Eastern and Westerns tennis grips

The forehand shot

For a right handed player who is just learning to play tennis, the forehand is a shot that initiates on the players right side of the body. Then the movement continues across his or her body during the point of contact (the rackets face comes in contact with the ball) and with a sideways (left) follow-through.

The tennis backhand shot

The backhand shot is the next shot in learning to play tennis. The tennis backhand comes in two types, the two handed backhand and the one handed backhand. The backhand shot is considered to be more difficult to execute, especially the one handed backhand. Thus, if you just have started learning to play tennis, first learn the two handed backhand. The execution of this tennis shot starts on the left side of the player’s body (for right handed players), the movement continues across the body when the ball comes in contact with the racket face, ending with a sideways (left) follow-though.

Choosing the Right Equipment

The last but not the least feature to consider if you are learning to play tennis, is the use of the appropriate tennis equipment. An example of tennis equipment that beginners should have is the tennis racket. When you buy your racket, make sure that you are comfortable with the grip size. This is very important because the use of an inappropriate grip size can cause injuries to your arm, elbows and wrists, affecting your performance.

Tennis rackets with different grip sizes are available in the market. These grip sizes ranges from 4 inches or less for junior players to 4 7/8 inches for adults. If your grip is bigger or smaller than these values, you can have your racket specially made, but you have to pay extra.

To determine your correct racket grip, all you need to do open your palm (right palm if you’re right handed but left if otherwise). Place it in a flat surface with all fingers all together, then measure the length from the middle crease of your palm up to the line between the middle and ring finger. The end point should be the same as the tip of the ring finger.

Factors to consider in learning to play tennis

Learning to play tennis does not only mean that you have to know all about tennis shots, courts and other techniques. It is also essential that you are properly geared up. Use an appropriate pair of shoes, pair of socks, clothing, and so on. These aspects should not be taken for granted because wearing inappropriate tennis attire can have negative effects on your performance.

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