Tennis uses one of the most confusing systems in the world. Whether you’re a spectator or a budding tennis player, the scoring system might leave you dumbfounded.
To keep tabs during official matches, here’s our guide on how to keep score in tennis.
Table of Contents
The Tennis Scoring System
The scoring system consists of a game, set, and match.
These three terms are used throughout the game of tennis to keep score.
One player serves each game; a game is won when one of the players wins four points, of which a player can earn a point in several ways.
A set is a collection of games; a player wins a set after winning six games or more.
A tennis match is usually best of three or best of five sets, depending on the league.
Normally, major tournaments, such as the US Open and French Open, are played up to five sets. There are matches, however, with no ad-scoring for quicker games.
Game Point Values
The values are 15, 30, 40, and the winning point. Players start the score with 0 points, which they call love.
When a player scores 1 point, the point value is 15. As for 2 points, the value is 30. And finally, 3 points has a value of 40.
When the score is tied, it’s called All. However, when the player and the opponent both have 40, it’s referred to as Deuce. On occasion the server wins the deuce point, it’s called Ad-In; meanwhile, it’s Ad-Out if the receiver wins.
How Do You Score a Point in Tennis?
Hit A Winner
Hitting a winner means making an amazing shot or serve where your opponent cannot return it to your side of the court. However, scoring a point through a serve of this method requires knowing when to hit a win.
You can use different types of winners you can use to win the next point, such as power and precision. It takes time and experience to win points in a row through your serve and shot.
Force An Error
A forced error happens when the player misses a shot due to the opponent forcing a score in tennis.
This happens when the shot is too powerful for your opponent to return it, forcing the opposing tennis player to return the shot. Or when the serve is hit too powerful, the receiver could only get their tennis racquet to touch it.
Opponent Makes A Mistake
An opponent makes a mistake when the player who played the shot causes the opponent to score due to poor execution.
For instance, if a winner passes through your ad side, but the previous shot led you to your deuce side, then it’s understandable you won’t be able to hit it back.
How Do You Win a Game?
You must win four points at minimum to win a tennis game with a margin of two points or more.
The tennis player needs to win six games. Win two sets to win the match.
It’s a matter of returning the ball back and forth until you win the next point by ensuring the serve lands in the service box.
Usually, the server’s score is called out first while the receiver’s score comes in second.
If the score is 40-30, you only need to get the next point to win the game. Or if you are up to 30-love, you need two points to win the game.
Ultimately, a player must win by scoring as much as possible by hitting a winner, forcing an error, or through your opponent’s mistake.
Keeping Score in Tennis - How Tiebreakers Work
The person who starts the tiebreak game is the next player who was due to serve.
The mentioned player serves the first point into the opposing deuce court, the receiver then serves the two next points, going first into the ad side, then into the deuce side.
After the next point, they alternate, serving two points in a row, starting on the ad court. After six points, regardless of what the score is, the players switch courts.
This continues every other six-point period until a player wins seven points with a win by two points margin.
The game score starts at love (0). As the game continues, the first point is referred to as 15, second point is 30, then 40, and finally, the winning point
The player who wins by six games, and win by two games margin, will win the set. Win two sets to win the match.
A tennis score of 40-40 score in a match is called Deuce. The player must score two points consecutively to win a deuce point.
However, if the opponent gets the next point, the score goes back to Deuce. It’s common for a tiebreak game to last a long time as it goes back to Deuce most of the time throughout the game.
It dates back to the 16th century where a clock face was used as a scoreboard, and for each time a player wins the next point, the hands move a quarter throughout the game. From 15, then 30, and 45.
Later on, 45 became 40 to allow the Deuce to be at 50. The hand of the clock moves to the top when a player wins the game.
An accepted theory is that love originates from the expression of the adage“to play for love”. Regardless of the game’s outcome, whether the player lost two out of three sets, it’s okay as tennis players are playing for passion rather than to win a set.
The game does not have any time limit, so it can stretch for hours. The longest match played went over 11 hours. For quicker games, no-ad scoring can be applied.
When the score is at 40-40, whoever wins the next point, wins the game. There won’t be an advantage point.
Tennis Scoring System - Our Final Thoughts
While tennis uses one of the most confusing scoring systems globally, the game is worth playing. Remember: if you want to win the match, you need to win the best two sets out of three. This is how to keep score in tennis, especially for those who are playing as beginners.
To win a set, you must win at least six and win by two games margin. Keep winning one set to another to win the competition ultimately.