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Basic Tennis Terms Every Beginner Should Know

Updated on January 22, 2014

Welcome to the wonderful sport of tennis! This Hub will explain the basic tennis terms you should know before you start playing. Whether you're just starting, or haven't played in many years, knowing the basic tennis vocabulary will benefit you out on the court.

Above view of tennis court lines.
Above view of tennis court lines.


Ace: A serve where the receiver does not touch the tennis ball at all. (The serve must land in the service box).

All: A word used to say that both players/teams have the same score. 30-all means the score is 30-30. 15-all means the score is 15-15 and so on.

Alley: The part of the court between the singles and doubles sidelines. This area is "in bounds" in doubles and "out of bounds" in singles.


Backhand: Hitting the tennis ball with the back side of the racket. This means that if you are right handed, your right arm will be reaching across your body to hit a ball on your left. The opposite way for left handed people.

Baseline: The back lines on each side of the court. Look at the image of the tennis court and the baselines are the far left and right lines.


Court: The designated area for playing a tennis game.

Cross court: Hitting a tennis ball diagonally into the opponent's court. For example, if you hit a ball from the right side of your court and it lands on the right side of your opponent's court, then you hit cross court. (When I say the right side of your opponents court, I mean from their viewpoint).

Deep Shot: A hit that lands near the baseline.

Deuce: When both players have a score of 40-40 in a match. Two points won in a row are required to win a deuce.

Dink: Hitting shot with no swing, normally landing close to the net. (Similar to a drop shot)

Doubles: A game of tennis played with two players on each side of the net compared to one.

Down the Line: A shot hit down the sideline of the tennis court.

Drop shot: A shot where the player hits the ball barely enough to go over the net.


Fault: A serve that lands out of the service box. The game of play does not start until it lands inside of the box.

First Serve: The first out of two serves the player gets to try to hit the tennis ball in the service box.

Forehand:When the ball is hit with the front side of the racket. For right handers, the ball will be on your right in order to hit this shot. On the left for left handers.


Game Point: When the leading player is one point away from winning the game.

Ground stroke: A shot hit after the ball has already bounced once.


Hail Mary: An extremely high lob shot normally used for defensive purposes.

Head: The part of the tennis racket containing the strings.

Tips on Serving


Let: A call made that requires the point to be replayed. This normally happens when a serve hits the net and bounces in the service box, but other reasons such as interfering objects may cause this call to be made.

Lob: A high hit over the net. This is useful for hitting the ball behind a player at the net, or allowing time for yourself to recover.

Love: A word used to say "zero" when talking about a score in tennis. For example, the score might be 15-love which means the score is 15-0.


Match Point: When the leading player is one point away from winning the match.

Net: A net covering the entire width of the court forcing players to hit the tennis ball above it.


Overhead Hit: When the player hits the ball with the tennis racket above their head.


Racket: The item used to hit the ball in tennis.

Rally: A series of hits back and forth by each player. This ends when one player fails to return a hit.

Receiver: The player that receives the serve.


Serve: The hit from behind the baseline into the service box that starts the point.

Service Box: The four boxes closest to the net on the tennis court that the server must hit the ball into when serving.

Set Point: When the leading player needs one more point to win the set.

Singles: A tennis game played with two players (one on each side of the court).

Spin: Rotation of a ball moving in the air. This causes the ball to bounce unusually when it lands.

Strings: The part of the racket used for hitting the ball.

Stroke: Hitting the tennis ball.

Sweet Spot: The center of the strings which is the perfect spot to make contact with the ball.


Tennis Ball: A hollow, air-filled, rubber ball used when playing tennis.

Touch: When a player touches any part of the net while the ball is in play. This results in the player losing the point.


Volley: Hitting the ball before letting it bounce on your own side.

Thank you for reading this hub and I hope you learned a lot from it. For questions or comments, either contact me or leave a comment below. Thanks

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    • Time Spiral profile image

      Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida

      How does a glossary of tennis terms--which you can find anywhere, from more credible sources--qualify as a decent hub?

      You know better, xRocker.

    • xrocker30 profile image

      xrocker30 6 years ago

      Thanks for reading it crystolite. I'm glad you found it interesting.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Thanks for the tutorial you gave on basic tennis terms for beginners,its really interesting.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      LOL! Good point regarding the google ad. Keep hubbing!


    • xrocker30 profile image

      xrocker30 6 years ago

      Thanks for the support K9. I'm looking forward to second month at hubpages. I also find it funny that the smashed tennis ball fits in nicely with my hub since it's a google ad. I hope it stays, lol. Thanks again.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Love the image of the smashed tennis ball! Nice hub for beginner tennis players. Good information and tennis jargon! Well done.

      Welcome to HubPages!