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Tennis Terms and Definitions

'Tennis Terminology: Love Being an Ace and Become a Winner!'

TENNIS TERMS: A concise list of terminologies of tennis. You will find 100s of tennis terms and definitions used by players and officials, all listed from A to Z.

Tennis players and competition referees can use this vocabulary of tennis terminology. The titles and common match rulings will also help spectators and sports fans.

The official tennis rules and regulations is a good place to start if you are learning to play. This list of tennis words covers advanced tennis lingo and sports terms related to the game.

Shoot through to the most common terminology in tennis by clicking the alphabetic facility below. Or, take a break and sharpen your knowledge and understanding of the game.

This comprehensive glossary of tennis terms and definitions continues to grow. Check in often for more words and phrases associated to tennis playing techniques and match-winning strategies.

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TENNIS TERMS: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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A – Ace

Serving an ace means you hit a winner and the receiving player was unable to return the ball.


Advantage in tennis occurs after the score reaches 40-all and the winner of the next point will have taken the advantage.

That means the player can win the game by taking the next point after the score was deuce.

The score reverts to 40-all if the player with advantage loses the next point.

Advantage Court (ad court)

In basic tennis terms the advantage court, abbreviated to ad court, refers to the left side section divided by the center service line and center mark at the baseline for each player.


The alley is used in doubles tennis games and it is the extra area of the side court which is bordered by the singles and doubles sidelines.


The angle-game refers to a style of play where you force your opponent wide of the court.


ATP is one of the abbreviated terms used in tennis. ATP stands for the Association of Tennis Professionals.

B – Backhand

The tennis backhand stroke is a swing technique where the tennis racquet hits the ball with a swing that comes across the body and struck on the opposite side of the body to the racket hand.


Using a backspin tennis technique spins the ball and produces a slow and low bounce.


The backswing is a motion of the swing that moves the racquet into position to swing forward and strike the ball.


A tennis ball is made mostly of rubber with a green and yellow fluffy surface coating.


Tennis ballboys are assistants whose role is to collect the balls and return them to the serving player.


The baseline is a two-inch wide mark at the rear of the court indicating the back of the court area.

Baseliner (counterpuncher)

Baseliner is a tennis term describing a player whose strategy is to play predominantly from the baseline – sometimes called a counterpuncher.


A break situation occurs when the server loses the game.

Break Point

Break point means the player is one point away from breaking their opponent’s service game.

C – Chip

Chip is tennis terminology describing a blocking a shot and played with backspin.

Chip and Charge

Playing the ‘chip and charge’ is seen as an aggressive strategy in an attempt to return the opponent’s serve with backspin and followed by a swift move forward to the net for a volley.


The tennis chop is one of the unusual terms used in tennis. The ‘chop‘ is a shot played with an extreme amount of backspin and meant to stop the ball abruptly wherever it lands.


According to the codified rules and regulations of tennis the rectangular tennis court is the area where a game is played.


A tennis crosscourt shot is and impressive shot played diagonally across the tennis court into your opponent’s court zone.

D – Deep

Deep is a tennis word describing a shot bouncing near to the baseline and some distance from the net.


Deuce is a situation when the tennis score is 40 all in a game (40 to 40).

Deuce Court

The deuce court refers to the right side of the tennis court for each player.


Doubles tennis games are played by four players which means there are two on each side of the tennis court.

Double Fault

Essentially a double fault occurs when a server faults twice in a row and loses one point.

Down the Line

Down the line is a tennis phrase meaning the shot has been played straight down the baseline.

Drop Shot

The drop shot is a volley where the ball drops tightly over the net. It is a tennis strategy used when the opponent is not close to the net.

Drop Volley

The drop volley is a sharp drop shot played from a volley.

E – Elbow (tennis)

Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow and clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. It often occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint.

F – Fault

A fault occurs most often during a serve and happens when the ball does not land inside the service area on the full (service that is not in play). A player committing this service fault loses a point after two consecutive faults.

First Service

The first service is the initial delivery of the two serves of the tennis ball. Players are allowed two serves by generally the server will try to deliver the most difficult serve to return on their first service.


The word ‘flat‘ is one of the regular terms used for tennis. Playing a flat shot means there is little or no spin on the delivery.

Follow Through

The follow through describes the part of the swing technique after hitting the ball. A good follow through in tennis is important for power and accuracy.

Foot Fault

A foot fault occurs when a server places their foot over the baseline while making a serve.


The forecourt refers to the area of between the service line and the net.


For many players the forehand is their best stroke. It is a tennis swing hitting the ball from behind the body.

G – Game Point

If you have game point it defines that you are one point away from winning the tennis game.

Grand Slam

The Grand Slam refers to any one of the four most prestigious tennis tournaments including the Australian Open, Championship Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the French Open.

Grand Slam Rules

Use the guide to master the laws and official competition rules of the tennis Grand SlamĀ®. The Grand Slam Rule Book PDF details the regulations used in all four tournaments.


Playing a groundstroke is making a forehand or backhand shot after the tennis ball bounces once on the court

H – Head

Head is tennis vocabulary for the top part of the racket where the strings are attached and used to hit the ball.


Hold is a state of play when the server wins the tennis game.

I – Information

I-formation is one of tennis titles referring to a doubles game where both players stand on the same side of the tennis court in preparation of starting the point.

J – Jamming

In tennis terminology, jamming means hitting the tennis ball straight to the opponent’s body which does not usually allow them to extend their racquet for the return ball.

K – Kick Serve

A kick serve is one with an emphasized amount of spin which causes the ball to bounce high.

L – Let

If the tennis ball touches the net from a service but still lands within the service box, it is considered to be a ‘let‘. The server serves again and this does not count as a fault as seen in the official Tennis Rules Book PDF version.


The linesman is an official seated in a chair along the lines of the court and his role is to call whether balls are in or out.


A lob is a ball hit high in the air and lifted high above the net while attempting to land it behind the opposing player. The lob shot can be defensive in some cases, but can create a winner when the ball lands in play and out of reach of the opponent.


In a glossary of tennis terms, ‘love‘ means the player has zero points in the game.

M – Match Point

Match point occurs when one player requires only one more point to win the entire tennis match.

N – Net

A tennis net is the central barrier which separates the two halves of the tennis court.

Net Cord Judge

The official who determines whether the serve hits the net is called the net cord judge.

O – Out

A ball which lands outside the area of play is termed to be ‘out’.

P – Passing Shot

Passing shots are delivered passed the opponent at the net without them being able to return the shot.


Poaching is one of the tennis words relating to an aggressive strategy in doubles tennis games. It refers to situations where players attempt volleying shots to the baseline.

Q – Queen’s Club Championships

Queens is an annual tournament for male tennis players. It is held on grass courts at the Queen’s Club in West Kensington, London.

The Queen’s Club Championship is an event in the ATP World Tour 500 series which is on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour calendar.

R – Racket

The racket (or racquet) is an integral piece of tennis equipment. Tennis rackets have a long handle and an oval shaped head containing the string mesh which is stretched across it. Tennis players use a racquet to hit the ball.


A rally is a series of consecutive shots played by opponents back and forth while the ball continues to land in play and before a final winner shot.

S – Second Service

The second serve is allowed after the server misses the first serve. Second serves must be successful or the server loses the point (a double fault).


The serve is an overhead shot which starts each point when the server hits the tennis ball into their opponent’s half of the court.

Serve and Volley

Serve and volley is a tennis strategy whereby the player serves and then charges forward to the net in anticipation of playing a volley off of the return.

Set Point

A tennis player needing one point to win the set is said to be at set point.


Singles tennis is a game played by two players – one on each side of the court.


Playing spin is a method of stroke play which induces a pronounced rolling or rotations of the ball in the air. Skilled tennis players can control the spin and, therefore, the ball’s trajectory and bounce.

They make it move sideways and forwards or backwards depending on whether the racket face moves respectively across, over or under the ball as it moves through the air.

Straight Sets

If a player wins every set in a match they are said to have won the competition in straight sets.


A player’s stance refers to their body position. It refers to the terminology of tennis on how players stand prior to playing a shot.

T – Tie Break

These tennis tiebreaker rules are usually used in all major tournaments except the U.S. Open. It allows players to stay on serve instead of heading to a tiebreaker at 6-6 at the end of the fifth set decider.

The Wimbledon tie break rules continue to adhere to a ‘no fifth set tiebreaker rules‘ regulation.


Playing topspin causes a forward rotation of the ball after a shot. The ball spins forward often bouncing high and dipping down sharply afterwards.

U – Umpire

A tennis umpire is a match official keeping score during the competition.


Playing underspin creates backwards rotation of the ball after a shot.

Unforced Error

An unforced error is a tennis term for a missed shot that was not caused by any particular excellent play by their opponent.

V – Volley

The volley is a shot where a player hits the ball before it makes contact with the ground.

W – Wimbledon

The Wimbledon Tennis Championship is the premier professional tennis tournament held at the All England Club in London SW19 5AE. It is the only major played on grass courts and is regarded as the oldest tennis tournament – and many would say the most famous.


A winner is a tennis shot that beats an opponent. Winners are seen as outstanding shots that cannot be returned in the normal method by the opponent.


The abbreviated acronym WTA applies to the terminology in tennis and it stands for the Women’s Tennis Association.

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Tennis Terms and Definitions Glossary used by Players and Officials