Glossary of Tennis
- Glossary of Terms follows below:
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Semi-Western grip – midway between the Western and
Semi-Western Grip (also called the Extreme Eastern
This grip places your palm on the lower right slant
bevel, the plane 45 degrees clockwise (for a righty)
from the plane of the strings. To counteract the
resulting natural downward tilt of the racquet face,
you must meet the ball slightly farther forward (at a
given height) than you would with an Eastern grip, and
while it's possible to hit flat, you will generally
need to swing upward more sharply, which encourages
you to hit topspin. The average grip among the pros
now is Semi-Western, primarily because of the
importance of topspin in the modern, advanced game.
The Semi-Western grip does well both at generating
topspin and handling the high bounces from the
opponent's topspin. It is not well suited to hitting
slice, and it's less comforable on low balls than on
Serve (American twist)
A serve that has
spin causing it to bounce high and to the receiver's
left, off a right-handed player's racket.
Opposite of a reverse twist.
Serve (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.
Serve-and-volley – style of play that involves
rushing toward the net immediately after the serve, in
to make a volley off the return.
Service box – area on the other side of the net
in which a serve must land in order to be legal.
Service break – one player wins a game while
the other player is serving.
Service line – line in mid-court that marks the
boundaries of the service boxes.
Scoring system The scoring system for modern
tennis is based on that of its medieval ancestor,
court tennis. In court tennis, a game comprised four
rounds of 15 points each. That system was imposed on
lawn tennis, as it used to be known, with the points
numbered 15, 30, 45, and 60 (or game). Somewhere along
the line, 45 was abbreviated to 40. The point is the
basic building block; a game is made up of points, a
set is made up of games, and a match is made up of
Second flight The flight of the ball after it
Seed Before a tournament, certain players are
ranked, based on their ability and recent
performances. The process is called seeding, the
rankings are called seeds, and the top-ranked player
is called the top seed. Matches are then arranged so
that the top-seeded players will not meet until the
later rounds of the tournament.
Serve The shot that begin each point. Standing
behind the baseline, the player must toss the ball
into the air and hit it into the diagonally opposite
service court. The server is given two chances to make
a valid serve. A failure is called a fault and a
double fault results in loss of the point. On the
first point, the server must be to the right of the
center line, and then alternates sides with each
point. In singles, the players alternate service
throughout a match. In doubles, service alternates
between the sides, and all four players serve in turn.
Serve and volley A style of play in which the
server takes the net after each successful serve in
order to volley the opponent's return.
Server The player whose turn it is to serve.
Service See serve.
Service court One of the two rectangles on each
side of the net bounded by the service sideline, the
service line, the center service line between them,
and the net itself. Each service court is 21 feet deep
and 13½ feet wide.
Service line The line that marks the back
boundary of the service courts on each side of the
Service line judge An official who is responsible
for determining whether a serve hits the court beyond
the service line. The service line judges are
stationed on the same side of the court as the umpire
and on a line with the service lines.
Service sideline That part of the singles
sideline, between the net and the service line, that
marks the outside boundary of the service court.
Service winner A serve that the receiver hits
without making a legal return.
Set A set is a group of games that is won by the
player or side that first wins at least six games with
a two-game margin, unless a tie-breaker is employed.
In major tournaments, there are usually five sets in a
men's match and three in a women's match. See scoring
Set point A point that, if won by the leader, will
result in winning the set. See also game point; match
The act of hitting the ball with the racket.
Sideline The line that marks the side boundary of
the court. The sidelines are 27 feet apart for singles
and 36 feet apart for doubles.
Sideline judge An official who is responsible for
determining whether a shot lands outside the sideline
or in the court. There are four sideline judges, two
at each end of the court.
Sidespin Spin around the ball's vertical axis,
applied by drawing the racket strings horizontally
across the ball at the moment of contact.
Singles A match between two players.
Singles court The court used for a singles match,
which is 27 feet wide.
One of the two lines that mark
the side boundaries of the singles court.
Slice A shot hit with both backspin and sidespin;
as a verb, to hit such a shot.
Smash An overhead shot that is hit very hard and
down into the opponent's side of the net.
Snap volley A volley given extra velocity by wrist
action at impact.
Stop volley A volley, hit with little motion of
the racket, that drops just over the net.
Straight sets Descriptive of a match in which one
player wins all the sets.
Strings The hitting surface of the racket, made up
of interlaced strings of gut or synthetic material.
Stroke A swing at the ball; a shot.
Sudden death A tie-breaker of predetermined
length. The most commonly used are the 9-point
tie-breaker, in which the first player to score 5
points is the winner, and the 13-point tie-breaker,
which is won by the first player to score 7 points.
The optimum hitting area, around the
middle of the racket face.
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