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Glossary of Tennis Terminology


Here are some basic terms used in the game of tennis. If you're just beginning, have been playing for years, or don't play at all, you can use these terms to impress your friends and really "talk tennis".

If you've heard a tennis term or other strange lingo that you can't find here, please contact me using the link on the right or bottom of this article. We'll track down the answer and add it to the list.

~ a ~
ace (1) Service winner; (2) a really good tennis player
ad here See "ad in"
ad in Server's advantage, break point
ad out Receiver's advantage, game point
ad there See "ad out"
alley Doubles alley, the portion of the court that extends width-wise from the singles court

~ b ~
bagel To win a set without losing any games, 6-0
break See "service break"
breaker See "tie break"
bye In a tournament, advancing to the next round without playing a match, usually as a result of being a seeded player

~ c ~
canadian doubles Doubles with three people, one against two
challenger (1) player who initiates a ladder match, (2) low tier or semi-pro event
conventional scoring See "regular scoring"

~ d ~
deuce The score is tied at 40-40, or 40 all
dink To hit the ball with little pace
double bagel To win a match without losing any games, 6-0 6-0
double fault Lose a point by serving out or into the net two times in a row
draw In a tournament, the order of play and schedule of which players compete against which other players
drop See "drop shot"
drop shot To hit the ball short so that it just drops over the net
dubs Doubles - men's, women's and mixed

~ f ~
fault When the serve does not land in the service box
five four The score is fifteen-fourty, also four-five
five three The score is fifteen-thirty, also three-five
frame (1) the oval portion of a racquet that contains the strings, (2) an unstring racquet

~ g ~
Grand Slam (1) One of four major tournaments played once a year - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, (2) Winner of all Grand Slam titles in a calendar year
groundies Groundstrokes

~ h ~
head The portion of a racquet comprising the frame and strings
hold To win a game as the server, to hold serve

~ i ~
in the zone The tennis ball looks the size of a basketball and you can't miss hitting all your shots for winners

~ l ~
ladder tennis ladder where players compete for position by winning matches against other players on the ladder
lawn tennis The original name for modern tennis, played on a grass surface
league A group of tennis players competing against other groups or teams
let (1) When the service hits the net and lands in a let is played and the server gets another ball, (2) an error in scoring or lines has occurred and the point is replayed
lob To hit the ball high and sometimes deep, usually an offensive shot, similar to "moonball"
love Refers to the score when no points have been won, as in fourty-love

~ m ~
match point The player who is ahead only needs to win the very next point to win the match
mixed See "mixed doubles"
mixed doubles One female and one male play against one female and one male, sometimes detrimental to a marriage
moonball To hit the ball high, sometimes with topspin, usually not much pace - very frustrating to hard-hitting players

~ n ~
no-ad scoring Opposite of regular scoring; first to 4 points wins, play sudden death at 3-3

~ p ~
poach In doubles, to hit a ball (usually with a volley) that would normally be hit by another

~ q ~
qualies Qualifying rounds of any tournament, feeds into the main draw

~ r ~
regular scoring Same as conventional scoring, i.e. 15, 30, 40, duece, ad

~ s ~
seed In a tournament, the top players based on previous results
serve volley Serve and volley, rushing the net immediately following the serve to hit a volley on the second shot
service break slice Stroke under the ball, usually high to low, produced a low trajectory
side or serve To begin a match, the person who wins the toss can select to serve or which side to begin on
Slam see "Grand Slam"
smash Overhead
stick Tennis racket
straights See "win in two"
string The hitting surface of the racquet, made up of interlaced strings
sweet spot The optimun hitting area, around the middle of the racquet

~ t ~
tank Lose a match after having a big lead, often on purpose
three four The score is thirty-fourty, also four-three
tie break Rule for deciding a set when the score has reached 6-6
top See "topspin"
top seed In a tournament, the best player based on previous results
topspin Stroke over the ball, usually low to high, produced a high trajectory
tour Professional tennis tour, ATP and WTA

~ u ~
underspin See "slice"

~ w ~
win in two To win a best two-out-of-three match in two straight sets
wrong foot To hit a shot to the court of an opponent who is leaning or running the opposite direction

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Content copyright © 2014 by Sandra Eggers. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sandra Eggers. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sandra Eggers for details.

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