Tennis scoring may seem complicated for newcomers to the sport, but once broken down into its components, the system becomes much clearer.
This article will provide a comprehensive overview of how tennis scoring works across various types of matches and tournaments.
The Basics: Points, Games, Sets, and Matches
Firstly, we need to grasp the basic elements of tennis scoring: points, games, sets, and matches.
Tennis points start at zero (also referred to as ‘love’), with the first point won being ’15’, the second ’30’, and the third ’40’.
If both players reach 40, this is called a ‘deuce’.
The next point won gives that player the ‘advantage’.
If the player with the advantage wins the next point, they win the game; if they lose, the game goes back to deuce.
Related: Why Is Tennis Scored 15-30-40?
A player must win at least 4 points in total and at least 2 points more than their opponent to win a game.
A set consists of a collection of games.
To win a set, a player must win at least 6 games and be at least 2 games ahead of their opponent.
If the set reaches a score of 6-6, a tie-break game is played.
A match is the overall contest, usually consisting of 3 or 5 sets.
The player who wins the majority of the sets wins the match.
How Tennis Scoring Works | Beginners
How Does Tennis Scoring Work in Men’s and Women’s Singles?
In most professional tournaments, men’s singles matches are best of 5 sets, while women’s singles matches are best of 3 sets.
However, this can vary depending on the tournament.
Scoring in Doubles Matches
Doubles scoring works much the same as singles scoring, with teams needing to win 4 points with a 2 point advantage to win a game, 6 games with a 2 game advantage to win a set, and the best of 3 or 5 sets to win the match.
Scoring Variations in Different Tournaments
Scoring rules can change slightly depending on the tournament.
Here we will discuss scoring at the US Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open.
US Open Tennis Scoring
The US Open follows the standard scoring for most of the match but introduces a tie-break game at 6-6 in the final set, unlike most other Grand Slam events.
Wimbledon Tennis Scoring
Wimbledon follows traditional tennis scoring but, since 2019, introduces a tie-break game if the final set reaches 12-12.
Australian Open Scoring
In the Australian Open, if the final set reaches 6-6, a tie-break game is played, but it’s a ‘super tie-break’, where the first player to reach 10 points with a difference of 2 points wins the match.
How Does College Tennis Scoring Work?
College tennis usually plays best of 3 sets matches, with a tie-break game at 6-6 in any set.
High School Tennis Scoring
High school matches often use the ‘pro-set’ format where the match is one set and the first player to reach 8 games wins, with a tie-break at 7-7.
Scoring in Professional and Olympic Tennis
In professional and Olympic tennis, men’s matches are typically best of 5 sets, while women’s and doubles are best of 3 sets.
A tie-break game is used in the final set at the Olympics.
How Does Advantage Work in Tennis Scoring?
When a game reaches deuce (40-40), the player who scores the next point gains the ‘advantage’.
If the player with the advantage scores again, they win the game.
If they lose the point, the score returns to deuce.
Understanding the 5th Set Scoring in Men’s Tennis
In some tournaments, the 5th set in men’s singles does not have a tie-break; players continue until one player is 2 games ahead.
Some other tournaments introduce a tie-break game when the score reaches 6-6 or, in Wimbledon, 12-12.
Team and Division Scoring in Tennis
Team and division matches, such as in college or division 3 women’s tennis, often feature ‘dual match’ scoring where points are awarded for matches won in singles and doubles, contributing to an overall team score.
Conclusion: How Does Scoring Work in Tennis?
Understanding tennis scoring involves grasping the progression from points to games to sets to matches, alongside variations between singles and doubles, and different rules in different tournaments.
Once these aspects are understood, the rhythm and strategy of tennis become much more apparent, enhancing enjoyment of this exciting sport.
FAQs – How Does Scoring Work in Tennis?
1. How does tennis scoring work?
Tennis scoring can seem a bit complex if you’re new to the game, but it’s quite systematic.
A match is broken down into sets, games, and points.
- Points: The smallest unit of scoring in a tennis match. Points start at “love” (zero) and proceed to 15, 30, and 40. If both players reach 40, it’s called a “deuce.” The next point won by either player is known as “advantage.” If the player with the advantage wins the next point, they win the game. If they lose the next point, the score returns to deuce.
- Games: Players must win at least four points to win a game. The first player to win six games (with a lead of at least two games) wins the set.
- Sets: A set is a collection of games. To win a set, you need to win at least 6 games and be ahead by at least 2 games. If the set reaches a 6-6 tie, a tiebreaker game is played to decide the winner of the set.
- Match: A match is won by the player who wins the best of 3 or 5 sets (depending on the competition rules).
2. What does ‘love’ mean in tennis?
In tennis, ‘love’ refers to a score of zero.
If a player has not yet scored any points in a game, their score is “love.”
3. What is a ‘deuce’ in tennis?
A ‘deuce’ occurs when both players have scored three points (40-40) in a game.
The game continues until one player wins two points in a row.
After deuce, the player who scores the next point has the ‘advantage’.
If that player scores another point, they win the game. If they lose the next point, the score returns to ‘deuce.’
4. What is the ‘advantage’ in tennis scoring?
In tennis scoring, ‘advantage’ refers to the point scored after a ‘deuce.’
The player who scores this point is said to have the advantage because if they score the next point, they win the game.
5. What is a ‘tiebreak’ in tennis?
A ‘tiebreak’ is a game played when the score in a set is 6-6.
The first player to reach 7 points with a difference of at least two points wins the tiebreak and the set.
The score of a tiebreaker is kept separately, and once the tiebreak game is finished, the score for the next set begins at 0-0.
6. How are games counted in a set?
In a set, games are counted numerically from 1 to 6 (or 7, if a tiebreaker is needed).
The first player to win 6 games with a lead of at least 2 games wins the set. If the set reaches a 6-6 tie, a tiebreaker game is played.
7. How are sets counted in a match?
A match is typically a best-of-three or best-of-five sets format, depending on the competition.
The player who wins the majority of the sets wins the match.
So, for a best-of-three match, the first player to win two sets wins the match. In a best-of-five match, the first to win three sets wins.
8. What does a tennis score like 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 mean?
This score represents a match that was played in a best-of-three sets format.
The numbers represent the games won by each player in each set.