Tennis: History, Facts, Rules, And Quick Tips

Tennis, originally known as lawn tennis is a type of racket game whereby opponents hit a ball with tautly strung rackets over a net running across the middle of the field. The ball has a specific weight, bounce, and weight. The opponents can be singles or a team of two players on each side (doubles). The sport is played on a rectangular court. A score is counted every time an opponent fails to return the ball in the right manner within the stipulated dimensions of the court. Surprisingly, tennis can be played by people in wheelchairs, making it an Olympic sport. Millions of professionals and recreational enthusiasts play tennis every year across the globe. Let’s see the origin of this sport and all it entails.

The Interesting History of Tennis Game

The word tennis is derived from ‘Tenez,’ an Anglo-Norman term which direct translation could mean receive, take, or hold. The origin of tennis can be traced back to the 12th Century. It is said to have started in Northern France in the monastic cloisters. By then it was known as the game of the palm because players would strike the ball using the palm of their hands. It was in the 16th Century that rackets came in. The era of professional tennis began in 1968. Today, tennis is played in numerous countries across the world in 4 major tournaments: French Open, Australian tournament, US Open, and Wimbledon. The oldest and most prestigious is Wimbledon Championships (since 1877) while the French Open became the very first Grand Slam event to be held.


Tennis players aim at hitting the ball over the net so it can land within the demarcated margins. The opponent hits the ball in a manner that their rival will not be in a position to return it within the court. Serving is probably the most important aspect of a tennis match. To determine who will serve first, a simple coin toss is done. The winner of the coin toss may also choose the side of the court to receive. When serving, a player aims at the service box diagonal from where they stand and over the net. There are only two opportunities for a serve in. Missing booth serves is a loss. If the ball grazes the net and lands in the service box, the server gets what is known as a ‘net’ serve. They can serve another round. This continues until the end of the set. Then the receiver becomes the server through the next set and the cycle goes throughout the match.

The Layout of Tennis Court

A rectangular court features a baseline at the rear end. There are two service areas over the net on both sides. This is where a successful serve is meant to land. Down either side are two tram lines. In single matches, the players are required to use the inner tram lines. Whereas, double matches permit the use of the outer tram lines. Four main surfaces can be used in a tennis court namely carpet, hard surface, clay, and grass. For every tournament, one type of surface is chosen and used throughout.

Fault and Double Fault

As mentioned earlier, a server has two chances of serving the ball within the court. Failure to serve the ball into the diagonally opposite service box is a fault. A double fault happens when the server doesn’t get the ball into the diagonally opposite service box during the second serve. In this case, the receiver earns a point. Sometimes, the ball may hit the net and land on the service court to make a net serve. The number of net serves can be unlimited and the player is entitled to a re-serve every time it happens. After every odd game (first, third, and fifth), the opponents have to switch sides. Players then take a break on the sidelines to grab a drink or cool off after a heated round.


A win must count 4 points in the game of tennis. These points are referred to as 15 (1), 30 (2), and 40 (3). The fourth point comes from the winning point and towards the end of a match. A 40-40 score is a deuce- meaning that the player has to score two clear points (two-point lead) to win. If the opponent with the advantage point loses, the score returns to a Deuce. The counting of scores can be hectic. Usually, the score of the server is announced before the receiver’s. Here is the detailed scoring system in a tennis match.

• 15 points are the first win
• 30 points are the second win
• 40 points are the third win
• A set over the above points is the fourth win

A set of wins involves at least 6 games plus a two-point advantage over the opponent. A 6-game set can be 6-4 or 6-0 but never 6-5. If the game stands at 5-5, two consecutive games must be won before a winning set is recorded. For instance, a player wins a set with 8-6 or 7-5.

Important Rules of Tennis

The ITF (International Tennis Federation) is the governing entity that oversees professional tennis worldwide. The following rules must apply.
• A player stands on the baseline when serving. No feet should be moved ahead of the baseline before hitting the ball.
• There is no penalty for a net serve
• The receiver stands at a position they wish
• Shots between opponents are unlimited when a serve is made
• A player who touches the net or distracts the opponent in any way loses a point
• The ball can fall on any point of the line for it to be called in. it is called out when it hits outside
• A new ball is brought after every 6 games

Tips to Excel in Tennis

Tennis players must be physically fit to endure both short and long matches. This requires enough strength, speed, and agility. Cardio and strength training are great ways to get in shape and improve tennis skills. Apart from improving the fitness level, players can try these:

a. Getting to the center to hit a great shot
It might seem easier to stand and watch where the ball is heading and how the opponent is reacting. However, the most important thing is to recover quickly and go back to the center of the tennis court.

b. The toughest opposition is the wall
The secret to mastering how to beat an opponent starts with practicing playing against the wall. This allows a player to focus on the very basis of the game. How high the ball swings is crucial. The body should align with what the feet are doing.

c. Mental Preparedness
Going to a match with a negative mindset is the first step to losing. A professional player steps into the court with a winning mentality. They are confident about their moves. And so they focus on how to ace the serves. Tennis is a mental sport so whoever does it with greatness enjoys tremendous outcomes.

d. Nutrition Matters
Whatever gets into the body certainly affects physical performance. An athletic body demands energy and mental focus. Players thus need to eat right before the match so they can have enough calories to burn during a match. A combination of protein and carbs are a good choice. No need to take heavy meals just before the game.

e. Slowing Down
A pro tennis player knows that the opponent will not miss a shot. So, they are always thinking of how to play out the point until the end. Taking time after losing is very important. It is important to slow down the pace a little bit. Some matches go downhill abruptly. So there’s no need to rush into hitting the next score without analyzing what just happened.

f. Versatility
The weather changes all the time and courts differ significantly. A smart tennis player knows how to adapt to different conditions as they come. They can do both indoor and outdoor tennis comfortably. On a windy day, there’s a need to change the strokes and serves.

g. Smash and Win
The feeling of smashing an opponent is quite a thrill. However, this should not be the main agenda. Instead, one should focus on a steady play, allowing the rival to make a mistake. The agenda is to successfully return the ball rather than scoring a winning point. It is easier to commit a blunder when trying to be fanciful and being under pressure.