Lawn Tennis Rules & Regulations

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The term "lawn tennis" might evoke images of players dressed all in white hitting at the All England Club, home of Wimbledon. It can mean that; however, lawn tennis is simply another name for tennis. It doesn't matter whether you play the game on grass, clay or concrete; the rules remain the same. Tennis players in the United States abide by the rules and regulations of the United States Tennis Association, which follows the International Tennis Federation's rules and regulations. A rulebook is required to know the myriad rules and regulations of tennis, but you need only understand a general overview to enjoy playing and watching the game.

The Court

The tennis court must be 78 feet long, from baseline to baseline, and 27 feet wide for singles and the same 78 feet long, but 36 feet wide for doubles. A net that is 3 feet high at the center and 3 1/2 feet high on both ends is strung across the middle of the court, attached by net posts. The court has service box lines on both sides of the net to signify the two service courts on each side. The service box lines extend 21 feet from the net and are parallel to the net. A line down the middle of the court, on both sides of the net, which extends from the net to the service box line, separates the court's right and left sides. The right-hand side of the court is the "deuce" side, and the left-hand side is the "ad" side. Lines also differentiate the singles court from the doubles court.


The word "love" means zero points. The first point is "15"; the second, "30"; the third point is "40"; and the fourth, "game." The server always calls his score first. If the game ties at 40/40, the score is "deuce." The next point played will be advantage in, shortened to "ad in," meaning the server is ahead one point, or advantage out, shortened to "ad out," meaning the receiver is ahead one point. The next point will be either game for the player leading or deuce again. Players must win six games to gain a set, and a set needs to be won by two games. A set tied at 5-5 is won by a player who takes the next two games. If the set goes to 6-6, a tiebreak is required. Tiebreaks are scored in points as "zero," "1," "2," "3," and so on until a player scores "7." The tiebreak also needs to be won by two points. Matches typically comprise the best of three sets, or the best of five.

Playing a Point

Players flip a coin to see who serves first. The server begins from the deuce side, behind the baseline, and the ball must land in the service box of the opponent's deuce side. The server gets two chances to get the serve in. Otherwise, he loses the point. He must serve the next point from the ad side to the service box of the opponent's ad side. Servers continue to switch between the deuce and ad sides after each point is played. The opponent must hit the serve back anywhere within or on the lines to the opponent's end of the court after one bounce. If the ball lands anywhere on the line, it's a good ball. After the service return is struck and is good, players no longer have to let the ball bounce once; they can hit the ball before it bounces, but the ball can never bounce more than once.


USTA regulations refer to tournaments. Whether the tournament is a professional or an amateur one, there must be uniformity that applies to all the tournaments in the circuit. There is typically a tournament committee with a director, a chairperson and a referee. The tournament must provide an adequate number of courts so the event can be completed on time. There are certain rules for entering, and there is a draw, which determines who plays whom at what point of the tournament.