It's All in the Wrist: Tennis 101

Written by Michele Wheat

It's All in the Wrist: Tennis 101

The game of tennis has been around in various forms for several centuries. Historians can trace the origins of the game back to the 12th Century when the French played a game called Jeu de Paume. Originally, the game was played with a ball that was struck with an open hand over a net. While the concept of hitting a ball over a net is the same, the modern game of tennis has changed. From those modest beginnings, the game has evolved to use lightweight tennis rackets and hollow balls on a professionally surfaced court.

Court Surfaces & Equipment

The original game of tennis was played on the lawn. Grass court tennis is still popular with several professional tournaments played on grass every year including the Wimbledon tennis tournament in London. In addition to grass, tennis is also played on clay courts and hard courts. Each of these types of surfaces creates different challenges for players so that they need to adapt their playing style.

Tennis is a sport where you do not have to have a large amount of equipment to play. Basically, all a tennis player needs is a tennis racket, some tennis balls, a court, and tennis shoes. Players can also invest in a tennis bag to carry equipment, towels, and anything else they may need. While professional tennis players can wear tennis tops and shorts that carry sponsorship logos, the average tennis player can wear anything that they can comfortably move and stretch to play the game.

  • Grass Courts - Tennis is played on well-manicured grass.

  • Hard Courts - The court is made from synthetic or asphalt surfaces.

  • Clay Courts - The game is played on a hard dirt surface.

  • Tennis Rackets and Balls - Balls are available at a low-price from any sporting goods store. Tennis rackets should be high quality and the proper size for the player.

  • Tennis shoes and bag - Comfortable shoes allow players to move freely in all directions. The sole of the shoe has traction for grip but allows for quick pivots. Tennis bags can help players store balls, shoes, towels, and more. At the very least, tennis players should buy a racket cover bag.

Keeping Score

Tennis has one of the most unique scoring systems in all of sports, consisting of games, sets and matches. Points are awarded after a game with scores that look like this:

  • 0 points = Love

  • 1 point = 15

  • 2 points = 30

  • 3 points = 40

  • Tie = all

  • 40 to 40 = Deuce

To win a game, you need to win at least 4 points. To win a set, you need to win six games. If both players do so, a tiebreaker set begins. Sometimes, matches are scored with "advantage sets" which means there is no tiebreak and players continue until someone wins two games over their opponent. A match can be won by the player who wins two out of three sets, or in some major tournaments, three out of five sets.

  • Game - you win the game by winning four points

  • Set - you win a set by winning six games or two games over an opponent

  • Match - you win the match by winning two sets

Tennis Terms and Lingo

To learn more about tennis, you should learn some of the terms used in the sport. Terms such as serve, volley, lob and ace are some commonly used terms during a tennis match.

  • Serve - Hitting the ball to your opponent to start a game.

  • Volley - Returning the ball that is hit by your opponent.

  • Lob - Hitting the ball over an opponent's head to land in the far back of the court.

  • Ace - A serve that wasn't touched by the opponent.


Tennis is a fun game with plenty of running, moving and stretching involved. The game is an excellent source of aerobic exercise and can be played by two or four people at a time. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages and it's adaptable to different abilities.