Tennis is a game played on a rectangular court by either two players (singles) or four (doubles).
Players stand on opposite sides of a net and use a stringed racket to hit a ball back and forth to each other.
Each player has a maximum of one bounce after it has been hit by their opponent to return the ball over the net and within the boundaries of the court.
Once a player fails to do any of these three things, her opponent wins a point.
The aim is to win enough points to win a game and enough games to win a set and enough sets to win a match.
The first person to win six games wins a set.
Matches are usually the best of three or the best of five sets.
A two-player game is known as a singles match.
Players use the narrower singles court.
The player who plays the ball first is the server and the person who returns it is the receiver.
Players swap serve every game and change ends every other game.
There is no penalty for serving out of turn but as soon as the mistake is discovered, the correct player must begin serving.
The right to be server or receiver or the choice of ends is decided by tossing a coin or spinning a racket.
The winner of the toss can choose one of four options:
- To serve, in which case the opponent can choose ends
- To receive, in which case the opponent can choose ends
- The end of the court at which he or she wishes to begin the match, in which case the opponent can choose to serve or receive
- To ask the opponent to choose
The game of doubles is exactly the same, except the wider court is used.
Players within a pair do not have to hit alternate shots.
However, the serve rotates so that each player serves once every fourth game.
For instance from Player A in Pair A, to Player B in pair B, back to Player C in Pair A and then to Player D in Pair B.
Players can only change the order of serving and receiving at the end of a set.
The server’s partner and the receiver’s partner may stand anywhere they like on the court during the serve, even if it obstructs play.
Traditionally however, each player takes one side of the court.
Where to stand
The server starts each game serving behind the baseline of the right hand court.
He or she must put the ball into the service box diagonally opposite.
The server must stand between the centre mark and an imaginary continuation of the sideline (the singles line in singles, the doubles line in doubles).
The server must swap sides after each point.
The server must stand behind the baseline, between the centre mark and the sideline.
If her feet touch the ground inside the baseline, or the wrong side of the centre mark or the wrong side of the imaginary extension of the sideline, before the ball is struck, a foot fault is called.
A foot fault is the same as a fault and the point is awarded to the opponent.
A ball which clips the net and bounces inside the service box is known as a ‘let’. If this happens the player is allowed to serve again.
However if the ball hits the net and lands outside the service box, it is a fault.
A let can also be called during any point in the match if it seems fair for a point to be played again – e.g. if there is a dispute over a line call.
If the server throws the ball in the air but does not attempt a shot it is a ‘let’.
If the server throws the ball in the air, attempts a shot but misses, it is a fault.
The server must put the ball in the air using their arm, not their racket.
They must also hit the ball before it hits the ground.
Good players usually strike the ball high above their head to gain power but there is nothing in the rules to stop a player serving underarm.
Players may not run or walk while delivering the serve, but they may move their feet.
The players change ends at the end of the first, third, fifth game and so on until the end of the set.
If the set ends and the total number of games played is even, then the players play the first game of the next set before changing ends.
If the number of games played in a set is uneven, the players change ends straight away.
They then carry on changing at the end of the first, third, fifth game as before.
In the professional game, players are allowed a 90-second rest between end changes.
This is extended to two minutes at the end of a set, although at the first changeover of the next set the players do not get a rest.
They are also allowed to leave the court to go to the toilet and can request treatment on court.
Information from – http://news.bbc.co.uk/sportacademy