Tennis Cheat Sheet for New Players

Game, set, match! Wait, what's the diff?? Here's a primer that'll help you make sense of the sport so you can talk tennis like the pros.


What it's not: When two people are head-over-heels, passionately into each other

What it is: The score of zero in a tennis match. "Love all" means both players have a score of zero. 15 serving love, would mean the player serving won a point, and the other has zero in that game.

15, 30, 40

What they're not: The bust-waist-hip measurement of some non-human creature

What they are: 15 is equivalent to winning one point, 30 is two, and 40 is three. If the score is 15 serving 30, the player serving won one point, and the player receiving won two points in that game.


What it's not: Those little sticks you use to light candles

What it is: When competitors in other sports (kickball, Dominoes, etc.) play against each other, you call it a game. In tennis the showdown is called a "match."


What it's not: Monopoly, Cards of Humanity, Dungeons and Dragons, Hide-and-Go-Seek...

What it is: A segment in a tennis match (see above!) where one player wins by either getting to 40 first or beating their opponent by two points. Winning gives the player one point in that set. Games make up a set.


What it's not: The area where celebrities go to film a movie or TV show

What it is: While games make up a set in tennis, sets consist of a minimum of six games, but always must be won by two. Therefore, if one player has won five games, and the other player has one six, another game must be played in order for the set to be won by two games. If one player has one six games and the other player has won four, the player with six wins the set. If the set gets to six all, a tie breaker is played. A tennis match is either played as a best of three (for women) or best of five set format.

Match Point

What it's not: That 2005 Woody Allen movie starring Scarlett Johasson.

What it is: When a player has the opportunity to win either the best of three or five sets by winning this final point. They would have won the match.

MoreThe Ultimate Pre-Match Checklist

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About the Author

Amy Schlinger

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.
SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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