Tennis is a sport with a rich tradition and set of rules that have evolved over the centuries.
Serving in tennis is a key aspect of the game, setting the tone for the rest of the rally.
This article will go through the detailed rules of serving in tennis, discussing both singles and doubles, tie-breaks, etiquette, and even a comparison with table tennis serve rules.
Basics of Tennis Serve Rules
Serving in tennis initiates every point in a game.
The server must stand behind the baseline, between the center mark and the sideline.
The ball must be hit into the service box diagonally opposite from where the server stands.
A legal tennis serve involves the server tossing the ball into the air and hitting it before it touches the ground.
A player has two chances to execute a successful serve.
If both serve attempts fail to land in the correct service box, it’s called a double fault and the point is awarded to the opponent.
How Does Serving Work in Tennis
The server starts the game from the right-hand side (deuce court) and alternates sides after each point.
The order of serve rotates between players each game. If the server wins the point, they move to the left side of the court (advantage court), and vice versa.
In singles, players serve an entire game before their opponent gets a turn to serve.
In doubles, team members alternate serves each game, and the order of serving continues in a cyclical manner throughout the match.
How To Hit A Basic Tennis Serve with Venus Williams
Tennis Serve Rules: Singles and Doubles
The rules of serving differ slightly between singles and doubles tennis.
In singles, a player serves from alternating sides of the court, aiming for the service box diagonally across the net.
In doubles, the same pattern follows, but the receiving team can choose which player will return the serve.
However, once this choice is made, it remains constant throughout the set.
Tennis Tie-Break Serve Rules
In tennis, when a set reaches a 6-6 score, a tie-break game is played to determine the set winner.
The player who was next to serve starts the tie-break and serves only one point from the deuce court.
From then on, players alternate serves every two points, and the serve switches from the deuce court to the advantage court and vice versa.
Tennis Serve Rules: Let and Attempts
A let is when a serve touches the net but still lands in the correct service box.
There is no limit to how many let serves are allowed in tennis.
The server gets to retake their serve without any penalty.
However, if the serve touches the net and does not land in the correct service box, it counts as a service fault.
Tennis Serve Etiquette
Five major rules of tennis etiquette related to serving are:
- Wait for the receiver to be ready before serving.
- Call out the score before serving.
- Do not attempt to distract the receiver during their return.
- Accept the receiver’s call in friendly matches.
- In case of a let serve, replay the point without argument.
Tennis Serve Toss Rules
The server must release the ball from their hand and strike it with the racket before it touches the ground.
There is no rule regarding how high the toss should be.
Tennis Rules: Moving During Serve
While serving, the player’s feet must not touch or cross over the baseline until the ball has been struck.
This rule ensures the server does not gain an unfair advantage by moving forward before the serve is completed.
Violation of this rule leads to a foot fault.
Tennis Rules: Serving Time and Serve Clock
The server has a maximum of 25 seconds between points to start their serve in most professional tennis tournaments.
At the Australian Open, a serve clock is used to ensure players adhere to this rule.
How Many Serve Attempts in Tennis?
As previously mentioned, each player has two serve attempts per point.
If the first serve doesn’t land in the correct service box, the server gets a second chance. Failing to land the second serve results in a double fault.
Table Tennis Serve Rules
Just like tennis, the serve is crucial in table tennis. It sets up the point and can be tactically used to put the opponent under pressure.
The basic table tennis serve rules involve the server tossing the ball vertically upwards at least 16 cm and then hitting it so that it bounces on their side before reaching the opponent’s side.
Table Tennis Serve Rules: Singles and Doubles
In singles, the server can serve to any part of the opponent’s half of the table.
However, in doubles, the server must serve diagonally, from their right-hand half court to the opponent’s right-hand half court.
After each game, the serve changes to the other team and the players switch positions, ensuring that each player serves to a different opponent each time.
Table Tennis Serve Toss Rules
Unlike in tennis, the serve toss in table tennis has a specific rule about the height.
The server must toss the ball vertically upwards, without imparting spin, at least 16 cm high from the flat palm of their free hand, and then strike it on its way down.
Table Tennis Serve Rules: Bounce Twice
If a serve in table tennis bounces more than once on the opponent’s side, provided it has not touched the sides of the table, the server wins a point.
This rule encourages servers to keep their serves short and low over the net, making it challenging for the receiver.
Padel Tennis Serve Rules
Padel tennis, another racquet sport, follows slightly different serve rules.
The server must serve underhand, and the ball must bounce in the server’s own box before being hit.
The serve must then cross the net and bounce in the receiver’s box. If the ball hits the fencing (walls) before it bounces, it is considered a fault.
Understanding serve rules across these different forms of tennis can not only help improve your game but can also increase your appreciation for these sports.
These rules, while complex, bring strategy and fairness to the game, making each serve a crucial part of each match.
FAQs – Tennis Serve Rules
What are the basic rules of a tennis serve?
A player initiates a point in tennis with a serve.
The server must stand behind the baseline, between the center mark and the sideline.
The serve must be hit diagonally, landing in the opponent’s service box on the opposite side of the net.
If the serve fails to land in the correct box, it is a fault. If the server faults twice in a row, they lose the point.
What are the rules for serving in doubles tennis?
In doubles tennis, the serve alternates between teams and partners.
The serving order within a team is decided at the start of the match and must be maintained throughout the match.
The serve must still land in the diagonally opposite service box.
However, after the serve, the ball can be returned anywhere on the court.
What is a legal tennis serve?
A legal tennis serve starts with the player standing behind the baseline.
The ball must be tossed from the hand (not the racket) and hit before it touches the ground.
The serve must go over the net without touching it and land in the diagonally opposite service box.
If the serve touches the net but still lands in the correct service box, it’s a let and the server gets to serve again.
How does serving work in a tennis tie-break?
In a tie-break, the first player serves one point, and then the serve alternates every two points.
The first serve in the tie-break is served from the deuce court.
After the first serve, each player will serve twice: first from the ad court, then from the deuce court, and so on.
How many let serves are allowed in tennis?
There is no limit on the number of let serves a player can have in tennis.
As long as the serve touches the net but lands in the correct service box, the serve can be replayed.
What are the serving rules in singles tennis?
In singles tennis, players alternate serving entire games.
The server must stand behind the baseline and between the center mark and the sideline.
The serve must land in the service box diagonally across the net.
What are the rules for serving in table tennis?
In table tennis, the ball must rest on an open hand palm.
Then, it must be tossed at least 6 inches up and struck so the ball first bounces on the server’s side and then the opponent’s side.
In singles, the serve can land anywhere, but in doubles, the serve must go diagonally from the right service box to the opposite service box.
Can you win a tennis set 6-5?
No, you can’t win a set 6-5 in tennis. If the score reaches 6-6, a tiebreak is played to determine the winner of the set.
What are the rules on serving order in tennis?
The player or team that serves first is determined at the start of the match by a coin toss.
After that, serving order alternates after each game in both singles and doubles.
In doubles, the order of serving within a team alternates as well.
How many serve attempts do you get in tennis?
Each point begins with two service attempts.
If the first serve is out or hits the net and lands outside the service box, a second serve is allowed.
Do you have to serve diagonally in tennis?
Yes, in both singles and doubles tennis, the serve must be delivered diagonally, landing in the opponent’s service box on the opposite side of the net.
What are the rules for serving in table tennis doubles?
In table tennis doubles, the server must serve diagonally, from the right service box on their side to the right service box on their opponent’s side.
After the serve, the ball can be returned anywhere on the table.
What are the rules about the tennis serve clock at the Australian Open?
At the Australian Open, as well as other Grand Slam events, servers have 25 seconds from the time the score is called to start their service motion.
Failure to do so results in a fault on the first occurrence and loss of point on subsequent violations.
How much time do you have to serve in tennis?
Under the rules of the International Tennis Federation, players have 20 seconds in regular events and 25 seconds in Grand Slam tournaments from the moment the score is called to initiate their serve.
What are the serving rules in padel tennis?
In padel tennis, the server must serve underhand and the ball must bounce once on the ground before striking.
The serve must be delivered to the box diagonally opposite and must bounce within that box.