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Tennis speak

New to tennis or simply interested in knowing the tennis lingo? We have included a collection of the words and expressions that you need to know about … net, set, go!

ACE | Serve that is neither touched nor returned by the receiving player.

ADVANTAGE | First point won following deuce. When the server wins this point it is called advantage. If the non-serving player wins the point, it becomes break point.

ALLEY | The lane between the singles and doubles sidelines, which is out of bounds in singles.

ATP | Association of Tennis Professionals, which runs the men’s professional circuit

BACKHAND | The stroke when the player turns so that the shoulder of the racket-bearing arm faces the net before the player brings the racket forward and across the body to meet the ball.

BACKSPIN | Undercutting of the ball with the racket to make the ball bounce back towards the net. Opposite of top spin.

BAGEL | The winning of a set without dropping a game, which is 6-0. A overall victory without dropping a game is called a double bagel (6-0, 6-0) or triple bagel (6-0, 6-0, 6-0).

BALL BOY/GIRL | The person, male or female, who retrieves tennis balls from the court that have gone out of play.

BASELINE | Boundary on either end of the court representing the outer limits of the length of the court.

BASELINE PLAY | Only hitting long ground strokes from the baseline through the game.

BREAK OF SERVE | When the non-serving player wins the game.

BREAK POINT | When a non-serving player has the scoring advantage and is only one point away from winning the game.

CROSSCOURT SHOT | When a ball is hit diagonally across the tennis court on a baseline ground stroke.

DEUCE | When opponents are tied in a game from ’40’ onwards, as a game must be won by a two point margin.

DOUBLE FAULT | When both serving attempts fail to land inside the service court, meaning the opponent wins the point.

DOWN THE LINE | Hitting the ball straight and down the line of the opponent’s court.

DROP SHOT | A lightly hit, spinning return that drops softly over the net, forcing the opponent to approach the net.

FAULT | When a serve fails to land in the service court, or is deemed an illegal serve.

FOOT FAULT | When the server steps across the baseline prior to hitting the ball.

FORCED ERROR | When a player is out of position and unable to return a strong shot by an opposing player.

FOREHAND | When a player pivots the body so that the shoulder of the non racket-bearing arm faces the net and then the player swings the racket forward to hit the ball.

GAME, SET & MATCH | The words used by an umpire when the match has been won.

GOLDEN SLAM | Winning the Grand Slam and the tennis Olympic gold medal in one calendar year

GRAND SLAM | The name of the four major tournaments in a calendar year. It starts with the Australian Open, then the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

GROUND STOKE | A forehand or backhand shot that is executed after the ball bounces once on the court.

HOLDING SERVE | When a serving player wins their own service game.

LET | When a served ball touches the net cord and lands within the service court, which means the player serves again.

LOB | When the ball is lifted high above the net and over an opponent who is close at the net.

LOVE | Means no points.

MATCH | Refers to the overall contest and is made up of games and sets.

MATCH POINT | When a player a single point away from winning the match. Double and triple set points describe when a player has a two or three point lead in a game that would decide the match in their favour.

NO MAN’S LAND | The backcourt area between the baseline and the net.

OVERHEAD SMASH | A overhand volley shot.

PLAYING THE NET | When players approach and position themselves at the net in order to cut down on the court size and make return volleys.

PUT AWAY | When the ball has been hit hard past an opponent who has no chance to return the ball.

RALLY | When players trade strokes on a single point.

RECEIVER | The player who receives the ball from the server.

SERVE | This begins every point of a match, with a game initiated by one player.

SERVE AND VOLLEY | The quick approach to the net by the serving player after a serve who hits the ball on the volley from the return shot.

SERVICE COURT | The area of the court between the net, the singles sideline, and the service line where the ball is served.

SET | The grouping of games in a match. Each set is played until one side wins a total of six games by a margin of at least two games, unless the set reaches six games each and sometimes a tie break is played to decide the set winner.

SET POINT | When a player a single point away from winning the set. Double and triple set points describe when a player has a two or three point lead in a game that would decide the set in their favour.

SLICE | Similar to backspin in that it is a way of striking the ball so that it doesn’t bounce well for the opponent.

SLICE SERVE | Serving the ball and causing it to spin away from the opponent, usually used on a second serve.

STRAIGHT SETS | Winning a match without losing a set.

STROKE | A player’s motion when hitting the ball.

TIEBREAK | When players are tied at six games each in a set, a tiebreak can be used to determine the winner of the set. Players alternate serving until one player reaches seven points by a margin of at least two points.

TOP SPIN | When the player brings the racket over the ball and strikes it so that it spins from low to high as it travels forward. Opposite of back spin.

UNFORCED ERROR | When a player loses a point because of an error on a ball that should not have occurred.

VOLLEY | When a player strikes the ball before it bounces.

WTA | Women’s Tennis Association, the women’s professional circuit.

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