Tennis Scoring Rules

Whether you are competing in a Grand Slam final or playing in your local park, the rules and scoring of tennis are the same. It can be played with two players as in singles, or four players as in doubles. A match is divided into sets. For men it is usually first to three sets and for women it is first to two, though a men’s match can be shorter.

Starting the Game

Determine who will serve first by tossing a coin or spinning a racket. The winner of the toss can choose to serve or decide which end of the court they will begin play from. If a player chooses an end, his opponent can then elect whether to serve or receive.


The server starts the game. The first serve is made from the right side of the server’s end of the court and changes after each point. The ball must be hit over the net and into the service court box diagonally opposite. A fault is called if it lands outside the correct service court or if you fail to hit the ball. A foot-fault is called if your foot touches or goes over the baseline. After one fault is called the next serve must be legal or your opponent will score a point. A player serves for one full game, then service switches to his opponent. In doubles, the order of serving is decided at the start of each set.

Basic Scoring

When a player fails to return the ball over the net within the boundaries of the opponent’s side of the court before it bounces twice, a point is scored by the other player. To win a game a player must win a minimum of four points. The first point is called “15.” If it is won by the server the score will be called as “15-love.” The second point won by a player is called “30” and the third is called “40.” The point won after 40 is game to that player. If both players reach 40, this is called deuce and the game continues until one of the players has won two points in a row. Players change ends after the first game and after every odd numbered game after this. A set is completed when a player has one six games, with a two game margin over his opponent. The set has to continue until there is a two game margin, or a tiebreak can be played if a set reaches six games all.


Tiebreak scoring uses straightforward numbers. At six games all, the player who was due to serve next starts serving in the tiebreak. After the first point, services switches, then each player serves for two consecutive points for the rest of the tiebreak; in doubles service rotates every two games after the first point. Players change ends after six points of a tiebreak. The winner of the tiebreak is the first player to seven points with at least two clear points margin over his opponent.