Tennis Scoring System Explained



The first point in a game is called 15 and the next 30 then 40.

And the score of a player who has not won any points is called ‘love’.

This is said to come from the French word oeuf, which means egg and is shaped like a zero.

The server’s score is always called first by the umpire.

So if Player A is serving to Player B and Player B wins the point, the score is love-15.

If Player A wins the next point the score is 15-all, and so on.


The first player to win four points wins a game.

So if a player wins four points straight their scoring will go 15-0, 30-0, 40-0 then game.

The exception is if both players win three points each (i.e. 40-40) which is called deuce.

Then the winner is the first player to then win two points in a row.


Once the score gets to 40-40, it is known as deuce.

Once at deuce, one player must win two consecutive points to take the game.

The word comes from the French phrase à deux – meaning ‘at two’, as in needing two more points.

If Player A wins the next point the score is ‘advantage server’.

This is commonly called ‘advantage in’, ‘van in’, or even ‘your van’/’my van’ depending on who is calling the scores.

If Player B wins the point the score is ‘advantage receiver’, (‘advantage out’ or ‘van out’).

If the player at advantage wins the point, she wins the game. If she loses it, the score goes back to deuce.

To shorten matches, players sometimes opt to play ‘no-advantage’, where the person to win the first point after deuce, wins the game.


The maximum number of sets in a match is five for men and three for women.

The first player to win six games wins a set.

However, if the score becomes five-games-all, one player must be two games ahead to win the set.

So a player must win the set 7-5 or 8-6 or 9-7 and so on.

Until the 1970s, this meant sets could potentially last indefinitely.

The highest recorded score in games for one set at Wimbledon was 32-30 in the match won by A Olmedo and F Segura against G Forbes and A Segal in 1968.


The first player to reach seven points, wins the tiebreak and the set.

But if the score reaches six-points-all, the winner is the first player to win two points in a row.

The player whose turn it was to serve in the set serves the first point of the tiebreak.

His opponent serves the next two points and after that the serve rotates after every two further points.

The players change ends after every six points, even if a player is between his two service points, and at the end of the tie break.

A tiebreak is played in all sets except the last one (the third set in women’s tennis and the fifth set in the men’s game).

In the last set, players continue until one secures a two-game lead.

Ways of losing a point

Apart from playing the ball into the net or out of court there are a number of ways of losing a point.

  • Throwing the racket at the ball. Letting go of the racket accidentally is not a fault, unless it hits a permanent fixture such as the net before the ball is out of play.
  • Hitting the ball twice, carrying it or catching it on the racket.
  • Touching the net, posts, umpire or line judge chairs, ballgirls or the ground in your opponents court while the ball is in play.
  • Hitting the ball before it crosses the net.
  • Returning a serve before it has bounced.
  • Catching or hitting the ball while it is outside the court before it has bounced.

If he volleys the ball outside the court and it lands in, the rally continues. If it lands out, he loses the point.

  • The ball touches the player or anything he wears or carries (except his racket) while in play.
  • The ball hits a permanent fixture such as the umpire’s chair, ballboy, line judge machine (but not the net posts) – before it bounces – even if the ball appeared to be going in.

If the ball strikes the permanent fixture after it bounces and before the opponent can hit the ball, the opponent loses the point.

  • In tournaments, umpires can deduct points for racquet abuse or dissent

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