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Glossary of Tennis Terms

There are many different terms used in tennis, all of which you will benefir from knowing. Many are used regularly while a game of tennis is being played so you are sure to pick them up quickly.

Ace
A serve where the receiver fails to return or even touch the ball. The point is won by the server.

Ad-Court (Advantage-Court)
The Ad-Court or Advantage-Court is the left hand side of the court from where both players have the ability to win a Game.

Advantage
The point being played after a Deuce. A player who has the Advantage and wins the next point wins the game.

Approach Shot
Usually occurs when a ball is hit short of the baseline. The receiving player then moves forward to the ball and places is deep in his/her opponents court, while continue moving forward to the net in order to kill off the point with a volley.

ATP
Association of Tennis Professionals. The ATP are the governing body of the men's professional tennis circuit.

Backhand
To hit the ball across your body. across the left of your body if you are right handed, and across the right of your body if left handed.

Backspin
To hit the bottom of the ball making it spin backwards while moving forwards. See also Dropshot and Slice.

Baseline
The lines at either end of the tennis court, where you serve from.

Baseline Tennis
Lleyton Hewitt is the perfect example, as he is a Baseliner. It simply means that players remain on the baseline during a rally. This method of trying to win points can be tiring, but a good Baseliner will either wear down an opponent or set them up for passing shot.

Best Of Three (or Five)
This is the number of Sets to be played in a match. Men usually play Best Of Five where they need to win 3 Sets to win the game. Women usually play Best Of Three where they need to win 2 Sets to wint the game.

Blue Collar Tennis
You're under pressure in a match and need to work extra hard to win those points!

Break Point
The point in a game where the server risks losing his serve. For example, the score could be 30-40, 15-40, 40-Advantage, etc.

Break Of Serve
When the server loses the Break Point, and therefore loses the game, this is termed a Break Of Service.

Bye
Before the start of a tournament seeded players can be given a Bye, which means they are automatically awarded a place in the second round of the tournament.

Center Mark
This is the small line you find across the middle of the Baseline. You must be the correct side of this line while serving.

Champions Tie Break
Follows the same format as a regular Tie-Break, except the winner is the first to 10 points with 2 points clear. An example of where this is used is The Masters Tennis tournament, the most popular indoor tennis tournament in the UK.

Change Of Ends
Players are required to change ends after every uneven numbered game.

Clay Court
Not often found in the UK! These courts are made of crushed shale, brick, or stone. We do have some Green Clay courts in the UK (same type as in the USA) and they are quite fast, compared to the slower Red Clay courts found mostly in Europe.

Continental Grip
A way of holding your tennis racket in order to help you hit powerful serves, volleys, backhands, and smashes.

Cross Shot
A shot that you hit diagonally across the tennis court, from either the baseline or near the net. If near the net you will usually be required to put a lot more Topspin on the ball in order to bring the ball down quickly enough.

Deuce
If both you and your opponent have 40 points each this is called Deuce.

Donut
If you score zero (0) games in a set this may be referred to as a Donut.

Double Bagel
If you score zero (0) games in two sets this may be referred to as a Double Bagel.

Double Fault
If the server fails to serve correctly on both 1st and 2nd serves this is called a Double Fault. The server then loses this point.

Drive
A powerful shot using a bit of Topspin. Common as a passing shot down the line to leave your opponent scrambling for the ball.

Drop Shot
You need to use a lot of Backspin to perform this shot. It is a more severe version of a Slice, in that the idea is to get the ball just over the net and stop almost immediately just after the net without much bounce.

Eastern Grip
A Forehand grip which which enables the ball to be hit ahead of the body with good follow-through with the racket.

Exhibition Match
A match where no points are awarded to players towards their ATP or WTA rankings. This is for pure entertainment, apart from the fact that players are often paid large sums of appearance money!

Flat Serve
A serve hit very flat and low over the net without any spin. Generally used as a 1st serve as there is greater risk of hitting the net.

Follow-through
Used when performing a ground stroke. Rather than hitting the ball and stopping your racket head quickly, you Follow-through with the racket so it almost ends up over your shoulder. The Follow-through is very influential in the length, speed, and direction of the ground stroke.

Foot Fault
Where the server puts his foot onto or over the Baseline before hitting the ball. If performed on a 1st serve, you will only have your 2nd serve remaining. If performed on your 2nd serve you lose the point.

Forecourt
This is the part of the court between the net and the service line. Usually where you would attempt to volley the ball back over rather than letting it bounce first.

Forehand
To hit the ball from the side where you naturally hold your racket.

Game
Each Set is comprised of at least 6 Games.

Game Point
A point that either server or receiver needs to win a game.

Golden Set
A set of tennis which is won 6-0 without dropping a single point. Only one player in the history of professional tennis has ever achieved this, Bill Scanlon (USA). It was against Marcos Hocevar (Brazil) in the first round of the WCT Gold Coast Classic at Del Ray (Florida, USA) on 22 February 1983. Bill Scanlon won the match 6-2, 6-0.

Grand Slam
To win all 4 of major tennis tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open) in one season you are said to have won the Grand Slam. Therefore, the 4 major tournaments are also known as Grand Slam events.

Ground Strokes
Any type of shot (Forehand and Backhand) across the net where the ball bounces.

Half Court
The half of the court nearest to the service line.

Half-volley
To hit the tennis ball immediately after it has off the ground, so you're hitting the ball on it's upward bounce.

Hard Court
A tennis court which has a surface made from asphalt, concrete, etc.

Hot Dog
Used to describe a showoff on the tennis court i.e. a player smashing the ball at every opportunity or playing trick shots. A perfect example would be trick shot legend Mansour Bahrami.

Inside-Out
An Inside-Out Forehand is to run around the ball to take it on your forehand, even though it has been hit to you in a natural backhand position. An Inside-Out Backhand is the exact opposite.

Kick Serve
A serve with plenty of spin enabling it to change direction once hitting the ground. This can result in the receiver misreading the bounce of the ball and playing a sub-standard return shot.

Let
Called to announce that a point is to be replayed. A common example is when a serve clips the top of the net but still lands correctly in the court.

Lob
To hit the ball over your opponents head using a lot of Topspin. Best played when your opponent is at the net.

Love
When one of the tennis players has a score of zero (0).

Match Point
A point that either server or receiver needs to win a match.

Mini-break
If the server loses one of his two service points during a Tie-break, this is called a Mini-break.

Net
Same as a Let call (see above).

Overhead Smash
A shot played above the head, hitting the ball downwards, hard and fast into your opponents side of the court

Overrule
Where the Umpire decides his opinion of a line-call (etc.) is better than that of a line judge.

Passing Shot
A shot played down the line while your opponent is close to the net, but is unable to return.

Qualifying Competition
Seeded players are always pre-qualified for tournaments, but lesser players must perform well in Qualifying Competitions in order to earn their place in many tournaments.

Rubber
A term used in the Davis Cup, which essentially means a "heat" or a "leg". The Davis Cup consists of one Doubles Rubber and four Singles Rubbers. As an example, if you win the first Singles match, you have won a Rubber or a Singles Rubber.

Serena Slam
A term created after Serena Williams consecutively won all 4 Grand Slam events, but not in the same season. In 2002 Serena won the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open, followed by the Australian Open in 2003.

Show Court (Showcourt)
A tennis court which is the one of the most prized of all to play on or to spectate on. For example, at Wimbledon the show courts are Centre Court, No.1 Court, and No.2 Court.

Slice
You use Backspin to perform this type of shot. Often used as a defensive shot to return fast served ball deep into your opponents court and slow the game down. Similar in execution to the Drop Shot.

Tie break
This method is used to determine the winner of a Set once the score in Games is 6-6. See Rules Of Tennis (Brief) for full details. Or see above for details of the Champions Tie Break variant.

Topspin
To hit the top of the ball making it spin forwards while moving forwards, and forcing the ball to curve down over the net.

Umpire
The person who controls the game, the players, the score, and his line judges!

Unforced Error
Where a player is not under any pressure from an opponent yet plays a shot which does not land in the court.

Volley
To hit the ball before it bounces.

Western
A way of holding your tennis racket in order to help you hit Topspin Forehand shots.

Wildcard
Given to select players who have not qualified for a tournament so they can participate. Preference usually given to young talent in the host country and also big name players who have slipped down the rankings.

Wing
Term often used meaning Backhand side and/or Forehand side. For example, a player may be comfortable to volley from either Wing.

WTA
Womens Tennis Association. The WTA are the governing body of the women's professional tennis circuit.

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