For a novice, the rules of tennis and are not very easy to understand. In fact, the scaffolding grows in a rather strange way, the points themselves are assigned in a sometimes incomprehensible way, and the stripes drawn on the field are many, with even variations between single and double. In short, if you have seen a few games but you have not understood them much, you are in the right place: today we will try to explain the rules of tennis in a simple way.
As you will see from the summary below, we have structured the article in many points, in which however we will try to be clear and concise at the same time.
If you already know some of the rules but have a doubt only about some details, then jump directly to the point that interests you the most. Otherwise, happy reading.
1. The Purpose and the Equipment
Let’s start from the basics: the aim of the game is to send the ball to the opposite half of the field, the one occupied by the opponent or opponents, making sure that the ball touches the ground once inside the field and that the opponent fails to respond, that is, fails to return the ball to your court age.
When this happens you earn a point and the sum of many points, in precise ways that we will now illustrate, allows you to win the game.
The ball, of course, must always be hit with a racket and never with the hand. A hit is valid when the racket hits the ball on the fly or after a single bounce.
If, on the other hand, the ball makes two bounces on its own half of the point is awarded to the opponent. Ditto, of course, if our response ends up off the pitch or stops on the net.
The size of the field
Since we have mentioned the field, it is immediately worthwhile to present its dimensions. One field measures 23.78 meters in length and 10.97 meters in width. This width also includes the so-called side corridors, 1.37 meters wide.
The latter is not part of the field in single matches, when two players are opposed, one against the other. Instead, they are an integral part of the pitch during the doubles match, when there are two players on one half of the pitch and two on the other.
If these dimensions are standard, however, the game base can be different. In fact, tennis can be played on clay surfaces (usually of a reddish color), grass, concrete, or even indoors, inside a gym.
It is evident that each type of terrain, however, affects the game mode, as the ball bounces differently on these surfaces.
Also for this reason, in the main world tournaments, there are differences at the bottom that sometimes guarantee truly surprising results, because there are players who perform better on grass and others who play better on clay.
The height of the net and the weight of the ball
The net is then placed in the middle of the field, which has a height of 0.914 meters in the center and 1.07 meters on the sides, where there are the support posts. These posts must be located at a distance of 0.91 meters from the playing field.
The regulation ball has a diameter that must be between 6.54 and 6.86 centimeters. The weight in turn must be between 56 and 59.4 grams. As you will see when watching a match, the players receive them with every serve, slipping one or two even into their shorts.
According to the regulation, in professional tournaments, however, the balls are replaced with new ones every nine games, even if the first time only seven games are expected to be able to change them because usually, the balls with which you start the game are the ones that have been used. during heating.
2. The Points System and How to Win
Since we’ve talked about games, it’s worth seeing how scoring works. As mentioned, points are awarded when the opponent fails to respond to his shot, either by sending the ball out or missing it or by sending it to the net. Each time this happens you get a point.
However, the points are not counted in the traditional way. The match is in fact divided first into sets and then into games or games. In turn, the games are divided into points that, however, follow a particular numerical succession. Instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on you have to get used to the particular tennis system that provides 15, 30, 40, and Vittoria.
In practice, therefore, at the beginning of the game, the first game of the first set is played. When a player scores the first point, he goes 15-0. If the opponent wins the second point, the game would lead to 15-15. The first player to score another point would then go to 30-15, then again to 40-15, and finally, win the game.
But be careful: to win the game you must have at least two points ahead of the opponent. In fact, when the two players are on 40-40 it goes to the so-called advantages. That is, the first player to score in that case would only take the lead over the opponent. That is, he would need an additional point to win the game.
If, on the other hand, the opponent scores a point at that moment, the result would be a tie. Also for this reason the duration of tennis matches is unpredictable: both because the exchanges can be very long and therefore the prints last a long time, but also because the system of advantages means that the same game can last much longer than expected.
How the score is taken into account: Game, set, match
When you win a game, however, you go 1-0, at least at the beginning of the game. In practice, in the first set, at that moment, one of the two players leads, having won a game. To win the set, however, you need to win at least six games.
Why do we say “at least” six? Because in reality also in this case it must be borne in mind that to win the set you need at least two games of advantage over the opponent. The set, therefore, can be won with the following scores: 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
If, on the other hand, two players were to reach a tie of 5-5, one of the two, to win the set, should be able to move to 7-5. Sometimes, of course, this happens, but at other times it is also common to find yourself stuck on 6-6. In that case, we proceed with the tie-break which we will quickly talk about in the next paragraph.
Before going into this particular possibility, however, let’s conclude the discussion on the games. With a certain number of games, you win the set, and, of course, with a certain number of sets, you win the game. But how many?
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Depending on the type of tournament, the win is awarded to the best of 3 or 5 sets. In other words, in certain tournaments, and especially in women’s tennis, to win the match it is enough to win 2 sets (therefore 2-0 or 2-1); in other tournaments, especially in the main men’s tournaments, to win the game it will be necessary to win at least three sets (and therefore you will win 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2).
But now, as promised, let’s give some answers on this blessed tie-break, which is played when the players are stopped at 6-6. In this case and only in this case the points are not assigned according to the normal criterion illustrated above, that is, that of the succession 15, 30, 40, and Vittoria, but according to the normal numerical succession.
In practice, in this case, every time a player scores a point he receives exactly one point and therefore will go for example to 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, and so on. The tie-break ends when one of the two players reaches seven points with at least two points ahead.
So, to be very concrete, the tie-break can be concluded at 7-5, at 7-2, at 7-0, but never at 7-6. In the event that, in fact, two players both reach 6 points, it will be necessary to go on indefinitely until one of the two has at least two points ahead of the opponent. So the tiebreak can end 8-6, 9-7, 10-8, and so on.
However, there are a couple of other talks to be made regarding this particular moment of the game. In the first place in the double the tie-break no longer exists, since this rule has been replaced by the so-called killer point: in practice, whoever manages to score the first point gets the set.
The second peculiarity instead concerns the joke during this particular game, but to better see this speech let’s move on to the next point, in which we will present the service in detail and we will also see the exceptions to keep in mind in the case of the tie-break.
3. The Service
In tennis, the service is very important, because it is the act that starts an action. To be valid, the serving player must obviously hit the ball with the racket and make it bounce in the field rectangle which is in the opposing half of the field, immediately under the net and opposite the side from which the batter hits.
Generally, the turn of service always starts from the right, so the batter positions himself on the right side of his court and serves the ball by bouncing it on the left quadrant of the opponent’s court. Obviously then in the next round, he will bat from the left.
Furthermore, it must be remembered that each batter has two possibilities to perform a service: if the first time in fact he sends the ball outside the rectangle or into the net, he can try again.
Often, however, the service can be a decisive blow, so much so that specific names have been coined for those services that lead directly to the point.
In fact, when a player serves and the opponent cannot even hit the ball, an ace is obtained, while when the opponent manages to hit the ball but fails to direct it into the opponent’s half of the field, a winning service is obtained.
The rules regarding fouls
We have said that there are two possibilities to field a valid serve. However, in the event that both possibilities are wasted, and that is in the event that the second serve also ends up on the net or out, a double foul occurs and the point is awarded to the opponent.
At this point, however, there is also an exception to underline: it may well be that the ball bounces in the right rectangle, but before doing so it touches the net, or rather our white above it. In this case, a “let” occurs (and not a “net”, as is often believed): the batter will be able to repeat the service without the first being counted.
The alternation of service
One player serves for the duration of a game. Then, in the next game, the serve passes to the opponent, so that there is always an alternation between the two players. However, the tiebreaker is an exception to this rule, as we said before.
In this case, in fact, he begins to beat the player who actually takes the turn to serve, but in the following points, the player alternate serving every two points played, so as to serve each point by beating from the left and one point by beating from the right.
4. The Ball in or Out
If you have had the opportunity to watch tennis matches, you will surely have noticed that most of the time the controversy between the players and the referee concerns shots that end up close to the line and therefore can be judged sometimes inside and sometimes outside.
The general rule is that the ball that touches the line is considered inside, as the line is on the field.
But since the actions are played at great speed and that players see the ball bounce from often oblique perspectives, big questions can still arise as to where the ball landed. For this reason, over the years, at least for the most important tournaments, very advanced technologies have been introduced.
The one most in use in recent years is the Hawk-Eye technology, through which a dozen cameras follow the ball and photograph its every movement. The tennis player who believes that a judge has seen wrong can therefore ask for the Challenge, or rather the intervention of this technology to settle the question.
The Challenge can be called up to a maximum of three times during a match, with the exception of the tiebreaker, for which tennis players have an additional Challenge. If, however, the call in the tie-break proves correct, the Challenge account is not deducted.
The name of some major hits
Since we talked about Challenge and Hawk-Eye, it is worth mentioning a few other keywords that are often used in tennis and that may not be entirely clear to the novice. We have already talked about ace, winning serve and let, but now we also see some shots that can be used by players.
First of all, there is the forehand, a shot placed with the arm extended outwards, therefore from the right if the player is right-handed or from the left if he is left-handed. This is the easiest shot to execute and in which you can impart more power, but it can be difficult if the ball has a particular effect.
Another fundamental blow is then the backhand, which instead represents the opposite blow to the forehand: the right-handed player does it to the left, bending his arm inwards, while the left-handed player does it to the right. The backhand can be done with one hand, more elegant, or with two hands, more powerful.
On the other hand, when the shot is made on the fly, without letting the ball bounce, you are in front of a volley. Obviously, for this to be valid, the ball must have passed the net, in order not to run into the invasion foul. The volley can be both forehand and backhand and is used to catch the opponent in the backhand.
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Finally, we mention the lob, which is nothing more than the lob, difficult to perform but also tremendously effective.
The decisive blow
Furthermore, since we are talking about terminology, it is worthwhile to conclude this speech by mentioning the game point, the setpoint, and the match point. These expressions photograph the moment in which one of the two players arrives at a single point from the conquest of a game, a set, or the whole match respectively.
The meaning of the expression is to indicate that in practice a point is enough for that player to go out.
5. How tournaments work
We conclude with a quick overview of the main tournaments, or rather how they work. We will not go too far into individual competitions, Wimbledon or Roland-Garros, also because these great tournaments sometimes – and especially recently – partially change their rules by experimenting with new ones.
In general, suffice it to say that all major tournaments are organized according to the single-elimination rule. There is therefore always a final, preceded by two semi-finals, four quarter-finals, and so on.
To prevent the strongest players from meeting in the early stages of the tournament, it is expected that seeded players will be named, and arranged on the scoreboard so as not to collide with each other before the final stages. The rest of the positions are then assigned by drawing lots.
The most particular types of tournaments
In addition to this type, also typical of the so-called Grand Slam tournaments, there are also group tournaments and team tournaments.
In group games, players are divided into two or more groups and must clash with each other before qualifying for the knockout phase. The ATP World Tour Finals which is played at the end of the year belongs to this type of tournament.
In team tournaments, on the other hand, tennis players are divided into teams, usually based on their nationality, and compete against each other, bringing points to their team. The prestigious Davis Cup and the more recent ATP Cup are part of this type.
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