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Glossary of Tennis Terms

Tennis - Glossary of Terms follows below:

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Umpire The official who is in overall charge of a match. The umpire sits in a raised chair at one end of the net, calls the score after each point, and has final responsibility for all questions of judgment and fact. He or she may reverse the decision of a judge or linesman if it is clearly in error and may impose point penalties or even default a player for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Underspin See backspin.

Unforced error Loss of a point caused by a poorly hit shot that goes into the net or out of the court. Compare forced error.

Up and back A doubles formation in which one partner plays in the forecourt, the other in the backcourt. Compare tandem.

V.A.S.S.S. Acronym for the Van Alen Streamlined Scoring System, developed by James Van Alen. The main intent is to avoid the very long matches that can arise under the traditional scoring system. The Van Alen numbers the points from zero through four and awards a game to the first player to score four points, even if the other player has three points, thus eliminating deuce. Most important, Van Alen introduced the tiebreaker, which is now commonly used.

Volley A shot on which the ball is hit before it bounces. As a verb, to hit such a shot.


Walkover A victory that results from the opponent's default.

Western Grip   The Western grip places your palm on the bottom plane of your handle, at 90 degrees clockwise from the plane of the strings.  This makes the racquet face tilt downward severely, and you must meet the ball farther forward (at a given height) than you would with a Semi-Western grip to get the plane of the strings into a vertical position.  The most natural swing pattern with a Western grip is sharply upward and very fast, which explains why most Western hitters generate heavy topspin.  The Western grip handles high balls much better than low ones, in large part because a higher point of contact does not need to be as far forward.  It is possible for some players to hit flat with a Western grip, but doing so forces your wrist into a very awkward position.   The Western grip got its name from its origin with California players.

Wide Descriptive of a shot that lands beyond the sideline, or beyond the service sideline in the case of a serve. See also long.

Wildcard  Regardless of their positions in the rankings, an organizer can invite one or more players to take part in a tournament, offering them wildcards. This gives event organizers the opportunity of offering places to promising young players, or alternatively to stars who have failed to register in time for the tournament.

Winner A shot that wins a point.

Wood shot A shot on which the frame of the racket strikes the ball.

Wrong-foot To hit a shot to the side of an opponent who is moving or turned in the other direction.


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