Tennis for Dummies: A Beginner’s Guide to the Court

Published on 10/10/2023

Tennis is a thrilling sport that combines strategy, athleticism, and precision. Whether you’re a complete novice or just looking to brush up on your knowledge, this beginner’s guide to tennis will take you from the basics to the court with confidence.


Tennis for Dummies: A Beginner’s Guide to the Court


Introduction to Tennis

Tennis is a sport played on a rectangular court divided by a net. The objective is simple: hit the ball over the net into your opponent’s side of the court while trying to prevent them from returning it. Points are scored when your opponent fails to return the ball within the designated boundaries.

A standard tennis court is 78 feet (23.77 meters) long and 27 feet (8.23 meters) wide for singles matches, and 36 feet (10.97 meters) wide for doubles matches. The net divides the court into two equal halves. The lines on the court mark various zones, including the baseline, service boxes, and the net.

To play tennis, you’ll need a few essential pieces of equipment:

Tennis Racket: Your racket is your primary tool for hitting the ball. There are various racket sizes and styles to choose from, so select one that suits your preferences.

Tennis Balls: Tennis is typically played with yellow or white balls. They come in different types for various court surfaces, so be sure to use the appropriate ones.

Tennis Shoes: Invest in comfortable, supportive tennis shoes with non-marking soles designed for court use.

Basic Rules

Scoring: Tennis uses a unique scoring system with points, games, sets, and matches. The basic scoring sequence is “15, 30, 40, game.” To win a game, you must score at least four points and have a two-point advantage over your opponent.

Serving: The server stands behind the baseline and alternates serving from one side of the court to the other after each point. The serve must clear the net and land in the diagonally opposite service box.

Rallies: After the serve, players engage in rallies, where they hit the ball back and forth over the net. The point ends when one player fails to return the ball within the court’s boundaries.

Singles vs. Doubles

Tennis can be played in two formats: singles (one player against another) and doubles (two players on each team). Doubles has slightly different rules, with an expanded court width and specific serving and receiving order.

When serving, stand behind the baseline and within the singles sideline.
Your serve must clear the net and land in the diagonally opposite service box.
The receiver stands on the opposite side of the net and attempts to return the serve.
The server has two attempts to serve the ball into play.
The receiver can stand anywhere on their side of the court when receiving.

A set consists of a series of games, typically played to the first player or team to win six games. If the set score reaches 6-6, a tiebreaker may be played to determine the set winner. To win a match, you usually need to win the best of three sets for women’s tennis or the best of five sets for men’s tennis.

Tennis involves a combination of groundstrokes (forehands and backhands), volleys (shots played near the net), and overheads (shots hit above your head). Use a combination of topspin and slice to control the ball’s trajectory and placement. Movement is key in tennis. Develop good footwork and positioning to reach the ball effectively.

Strategy and Tactics

Tennis is as much a mental game as it is physical. Develop a strategy for your matches, including shot selection, court positioning, and anticipating your opponent’s moves. Pay attention to your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses to exploit them during play. Practice different shots and develop a versatile game to keep your opponents guessing.

Joining a tennis club or finding a local tennis court is essential for regular play.
Consider taking lessons from a certified tennis coach to improve your skills.
Finding a tennis partner or group to play with can make the game more enjoyable and help you progress faster.

Tennis is a sport that offers both physical activity and mental engagement. Whether you’re playing for fun or considering competitive play, the key is to enjoy the game, improve your skills over time, and savor the camaraderie it can bring.