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Glossary of Tennis Terms

Tennis - Glossary of Terms follows below:

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Carry An illegal shot, on which the ball is held and/or carried on the racket, rather than being struck. Also used as a verb.

Center court   The main court at a tennis arena, where the championship and other major matches are played.

Center line   A line extending from the net to the midpoint of the service line, which marks the boundary for both service courts; refers to both the line dividing the service boxes, a ‘server' will often hit ‘down the centerline'.

Center line judge An official who is responsible for watching the center service line to determine whether a serve has entered the service court.

Center mark   A line measuring 2 inches wide and 14 inches long, that marks the midpoint of the baseline.

Chair   The umpire's seat.  Also the term used to reference the umpire, as in "The chair ruled that the shot was good."

Changeover   A 90-second period after every odd-numbered game in a set when players change sides.

Chip shot   A soft dipping shot hit with a backspin that just drops over the net. Often employed to return a serve, it's similar to a drop shot, but is most often used when the opponent is positioned at the net, thereby forcing a difficult return shot.

Chop shot   A shot hit with a heavy backspin, hit with a sharp, downward chopping motion; when hit correctly, it results in a shot with significant backspin.

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Clean winner   A shot that cannot be reached by the opponent.

Closed grip   A grip in which the racket face is tilted downward, toward the court.

Closed racket   A racket held with a closed grip.


Continental Grip   The Continental grip is the one solution used for every shot, but it is considered old school; it places your palm on the upper right slant bevel, 45 degrees counterclockwise from the Eastern.  This makes the racquet face tend to tilt upward, which is especially appropriate for hitting a slice. You can hit flat with the Continental, but you must meet the ball in a weaker position, slightly farther back, than with the Eastern. The Continental grip can be used for both forehands and backhands, but it's rarely used anymore for forehands, because it's poorly suited to hitting a topspin.  It was named for its initial development in the continent of Europe.

Court    The tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for singles, 36 feet wide for doubles. It is divided across the middle by the net. Service lines are marked 21 feet from each side of the net and parallel to it. The area bounded by the singles sidelines and the service line is divided into two equal parts, the service courts, by the center service line, which is halfway between the sidelines and parallel to them.

Cross-court shot   A shot that diagonally is hit from one side of the court to the other, as well as over the net, as opposed to one hit straight down the centerline. For example, the player hits from the right-hand side of the back court to the right-hand side of the opponent's back court.

Cut   To hit the ball with a short, downward slicing motion, often drawing the racket strings across it to give some sideways spin in addition to backspin.

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