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A Serving Of Tennis Rules

Jan 26, 2008
Tennis is fun to play, but can be confusing to learn. Whether you're a beginning or professional player, the rules remain the same. Once you understand these rules, you'll be on your way to playing a winning game.

Serve and Receive

The first step to playing a game of tennis is deciding who serves first. To do this, one player spins the racquet and the other chooses "up" or "down". If the player calls "up" and the words on the racquet face upward, he or she wins the draw and may decide which player serves first, or choose may choose which side of the net to play.

To better understand the rules for playing tennis, let's have an example: If player A wins the call and opts to serve, player B would have the choice of courts. Player A must stand behind the baseline to the right of the center mark, and serve the ball into Player B's right service court. Player A is allowed two serves.


Any disobedience of tennis rules is considered to be a fault. Other possible faults are as follows: If you swing and miss the ball; If you hit the ball into the net; If the ball bounces into the service court but hits the net post or any other permanent fixture. Stepping on or over the baseline before the racquet hits the ball is considered to be a "foot fault". However, you may step on or over the line after your racquet has come in contact with the ball. A tip from the pros: it is absolutely legal to lean over the line without touching it during a serve.

The Let Service

A "let" service may be called when, on your service, the ball skims over the top of the net, but continues into the service court of your opponent. Let service may also be called when you serve the ball into the opposite service court before your opponent is ready. Let service is not considered a fault, and will not count as one of your two serves. Further, if you toss the ball and catch it without swinging, it will not count as a serve and you may serve again as per the rules for tennis.

After the first point is won, the player serves from the left of the center mark for the second point, and must serve the ball into the opponent's left service court. After the next point, the player moves back to the right again and is the server all through the game, changing the position after each point is played. The receiver or opponent can select any position they want.

If the receiver tells the server that they are not ready yet still attempts to return the service and fails, the receiver is considered ready and the server scores a point. It is also a point against the receiver if they strike a service during the server's volley before the ball has had time to bounce. After the service, the server or the receiver can hit the ball either on a volley or following a bounce.

There are other times when a player can lose a point after service. This can happen when a player's racquet or article of clothing touches the net, when a player hits the ball more than once, when the ball touches the player or clothing, when the player plays the ball before it passes over the net and when a player tosses his or her racquet at the ball and hits it.

A ball is considered playable if the ball lands on either the baseline or sideline, if a player returns a ball that has hit the top of the net and landed on the proper court and if a returned ball hits the net post but lands in the proper court. The player using the court where the ball lands will determine whether the ball is in or out.

There are concrete and fundamental rules in the game of tennis, although these may vary slightly in professional tournaments and championships.
About the Author
Writer Abbott Tearce enjoys writing articles for numerous Internet magazines, on recreation travel and sports shop themes.
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