Learn the basic terms associated with the game.

Tennis Terms for Beginners

Tennis is a great sport for people of all ages and skill levels. It's a fun way to get exercise, meet new people, and enjoy the outdoors. But if you're new to the game, it can be tough to understand all the different terms that are used.

Here is a list of some of the most basic tennis terms that you need to know:


  • Ace: Typically, a powerful, fast serve that the opponent cannot return or even touch their racket to. The server wins the point.

  • Advantage or ‘Ad’: The player who is ahead has the chance to win the game on the next point.

  • Alley: The area between the singles and doubles sidelines on both sides of the court. The alley is out-of-bounds for singles and in-bounds for doubles.


  • Backhand: A stroke that is hit on the opposite side of the body from the dominant hand. A backhand stroke can be either two-handed or one-handed.

  • Baseline: The back line of the court.

  • Break point: A point that gives the player who is receiving serve the chance to win the game.


  • Changeover: A changeover is when players or teams switch ends of the court. This happens after the first game and then every two games after that.


  • Deuce: A score of 40-40 in a game.

  • Double fault: Two consecutive faults on a serve.


  • Fault: A serve that does not land in the service box.

  • Forehand: A stroke that is hit on the same side of the body as the dominant hand.


  • Game - Set - Match: A match is composed of sets, and a set is composed of games.

    • Game: A game is won by the first player to score four points, with a two-point margin.

    • Set: A set is won by the first player to win six games, with a two-game margin.

    • Match: A match is won when a player or team wins the majority of the prescribed number of sets (usually best of 3 or best of 5).

  • Groundstroke: A groundstroke is a forehand or backhand after the ball has bounced.


  • Let: A let is when a point is replayed due to the serve hitting the net but still lands in the proper boundaries of the opponent’s court.

  • Love, 15, 30, 40: Four points win a tennis game. Games must be won by 2 points. The points are called as follows:

    • 0 points = Love

    • 1 point = 15

    • 2 points = 30

    • 3 points = 40

    • 4 points = game


  • Overhead: An overhead, or smash, in tennis is a shot that takes the ball out of the air when it is over your head. The swing resembles a serve-like motion.


  • Point: A unit of scoring in tennis. A point is won by the first player to hit the ball into the opponent's court and prevent them from returning it.


  • Rally: A series of shots between two players.


  • Serve: The action of putting the ball into play at the start of each point. The server has 2 chances each point to make a serve.

  • Slice: A slice is a groundstroke or volley with backspin.


  • Tiebreak: A system used to decide a set when the score is tied at 6-6. There is different scoring and changeover rules for a tiebreak.


  • Volley: A volley is when a player hits the ball in the air, before it bounces.

These are just a few of the most basic tennis terms. As you continue to play the game, you will learn more and more terms. But even if you don't know all the terms, reach out and let me know what you would like defined. We can amend this reference page as needed.

Get out there and start hitting some balls!