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Tennis Jargon Buster

There is a lot of commonly used tennis terminology that newcomers may not understand. Read our handy tennis jargon buster to ensure you’re up-to-speed with these frequently used terms.

Tennis terms and their meanings

• Seeds: The players expected to do well at a tennis tournament are called the “seeds” – ranked from number one downwards. The player expected to win is called the “top seed”.

• Set: A tennis match is split into main sections and each one is called a set. Men’s matches can be three to five sets and women’s matches are three sets.

• Love: The tennis word for zero in terms of points. For example, if the score is 40-love, the losing player has no points in that game and their opponent has 40.

• Straight sets: When a player wins a match in straight sets, it means he or she hasn’t lost a set throughout the entire match – so they have won three sets to love (zero).

• Deuce: This is the way a score of 40-all is described. It is derived from the French word “deux” or two – meaning that two people have the same score.

• Forehand: This is when the player hits the ball with the palm of their hand facing to the front.

• Backhand: The ball is struck with the back of the player’s hand facing to the front and their arm across their body.

• Cyclops: The electronic machine that “beeps” to alert players and match officials when the ball has hit the net during the serve is called Cyclops.

• Let: The point must be played again – e.g. when the ball hits the net when serving, a “let” is played.

• Tie-break: When the set is drawn at six games all, a tie-break is played. The tie-break will continue until one player has won seven points by a margin of two or more points. If the score should reach six-points-all, the winner is the first player to win two consecutive points.

• Ace: When a player wins a point for serving a shot that their opponent can’t return, this is an ace.

• Smash: A player hits a very fast shot from above their head with a serve-like motion. It is hit with a massive amount of force at speed and is usually the shot that wins the point, as long as it’s accurate and doesn’t go out of play.

• Volley: A shot when the ball is hit back before it bounces – it is volleyed in mid-air.

• Double fault: When the server makes two consecutive errors and serves twice out of the service area, it’s called a double fault and he or she will lose the point.

• Spin: When a player hits the ball so that it spins and bounces in a way that’s hard to anticipate for the other player, it can be hit with “top spin” or back spin”.

• Finally, the umpire: The person without whom the match couldn’t go ahead, the umpire oversees the score keeping, manages discipline during the match and makes a final decision when necessary on matters such as whether a ball went out of play or if a let should be played.

Confused about tennis court markings? Check out our blog post on tennis court markings explained or contact us Dragon Courts can help with all your tennis court maintenance requirements.

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