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Glossary of Tennis Terms

Tennis - Glossary of Terms follows below:

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Qualifier A small tournament where a specified number of players will earn their way into the main tournament. Also refers to a player who has earned a spot in the main draw.

Rally Play exchange between two or more players.

Ready position shot preparation. Weight slightly forward, knees slightly bent, racket up and in front of
the body.

Racket The instrument that's used to hit the ball. It has a long, straight handle and an oval frame strung with natural gut or a synthetic material. Up until the late 1960s, rackets were made of wood, but then steel and aluminum frames were introduced, followed by frames of graphite, fiberglass, titanium, and carbon. Maximum dimensions are 29 inches in overall length, 12 inches in overall width. The hitting surface can be no more than 15 inches long and 11 inches wide. Also spelled racquet.

Rally An extended exchange of shots between players or sides.

Ready position The position adopted by the receiver in anticipation of the serve.

Receiver The player who receives service throughout a game.


Referee The official who is in overall charge of a tournament. The referee doesn't officiate at matches, but may be called upon by the umpire to interpret a rule.

Retrieve To reach and return a shot that's difficult to get to.

Retriever A player who tries to wear down the opponent by concentrating on defense, continually chasing down and returning difficult shots.

Return To hit an opponent's shot back over the net and in play. After service, every successful shot is a return.

Reverse spin See backspin.

Reverse twist   A serve that has spin causing it to bounce high and to receiver's right, off a right-handed player's racket.  Opposite of an American twist.

Round A series of matches in an elimination tournament, the winners of which advance to the next round.

Round robin A tournament in which each player meets every other player and final standings are determined by the won-lost records. Such a tournament is sometimes a preliminary round to determine seedings and order of play.

Run around the backhand To make excessive movement in order to play a ball on the forehand rather than on the backhand.

Runback The area between the baseline and the backstop.

Run down Same as retrieve.

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