What’s the Idea?
Learn to play tennis and master the rules before taking to the courts this summer.
What’s the story
This is usually my favourite time of the year when the Wimbledon Tennis Championship is on.
I have had the privilege of attending the tournament a number of times and every time it has been a magical experience.
The grounds are beautiful, decked in green, white and purple. There is an incredible ambience and the excitement is palpable when you watch the greats take to the court.
Then there is the exuberant rupture of applause when your favourite player scores a point.
Tennis was a big thing in our family growing up. We were very fortunate to have a tennis court at home.
We were barely walking before a racquet was placed in our hand.
We played tennis at school and had extra lessons on top of that. A family friend, Barbara, taught my brother and me to play tennis from the age of about 5.
Before long we were volleying and lobbing our way around the court.
To this day I still enjoy tennis and, although I don’t play regularly, it’s a great skill to have and something you will be able to use forever.
People should do this because…?
There are many advantages to taking up tennis. Firstly, it is a fun way to keep fit and active.
And secondly, it is a great cardio workout as you run around the court to hit the ball. You have to be agile and move quickly on your feet.
Tennis also keeps your mind sharp, as you have to plan your shots, think about your technique and consider your tactics in outwitting your opponent.
Socially, tennis is a great way to meet new people no matter what age you are. Most tennis clubs have a social league once or twice a week.
Players will have varying degrees of ability. Don’t be put off by stronger players, you will learn a lot from them.
You will only get better if you play with someone who challenges you.
If health and racquet clubs aren’t your thing you can join up with friends at your local community courts.
There is also often free court access at most parks. Afterwards, why not have a picnic? Just don’t forget the strawberries and cream!
Most of us have been denied taking part in any sporting activities, including tennis, for the greater part of this year and we have seen all of the big tournaments cancelled.
Let’s use this time to learn the basic rules so when we are able to fully return to the courts we have a better grasp of the game.
How do you do it?
Tennis involves two opponents hitting a tennis ball back and forth across the net until one player scores a point.
The point can be scored when the other player makes a mistake such as missing the ball, hitting it into the net or hitting it out of bounds.
You basically want to force your opponent to make a mistake.
How to start a tennis game
In order to determine who will serve first and on which side, one player will do a racquet spin.
This is similar to a coin toss but, instead, you look at a symbol on the racquet to call out heads or tails.
The winner chooses his or her side and whether they want to serve first or second.
The sequence of a tennis game
The player on serve will stand just behind the baseline on the right-hand side. They will serve to their opponent diagonally across the court and aim to get the ball in the box on the other side of the net.
They will get two chances to do so. If they miss both serves they concede the point to their opponent and move to the left side for the next service.
When the serve goes in the box, the players hit the ball back and forth until someone makes a mistake.
The ball can only bounce once and needs to bounce within the boundary lines.
For a singles match, these boundary lines include the back baseline and the inner tramlines along the length of the court.
Points all add up to a game and games add up to a set. The player with the most sets will win the match.
- Zero: Love
- First point: 15
- Second point: 30
- Third point: 40
- Fourth point: Game
- All (30 all / 15 all): Tied score
- Deuce: 40-40
- Advantage: Whichever player has advantage after deuce will need one more point to win
When playing a set, the first player to win 6 games and with a 2 game advantage wins.
You have to have a 2 game advantage to win so this means a set could be 7-5.
In a 3 set match, the first player to win 2 sets is the overall winner.
In a 5 set match, the first player to win 3 sets takes the match.
With doubles tennis, there are two players on each side. The scoring system remains the same but some of the rules differ.
The boundary lines are extended to include the outer tramlines and one player will generally stand at net.
The players will take turns to serve, alternating each side after every game.
Stuff you may need
- Tennis racquet
- Tennis balls
- Tennis shoes – some courts are strict and do not permit black-soled shoes
- Comfortable clothing