Tennis rules - a guide

Tennis is a game played between two players (singles) or two sets of pairs (doubles) using a tennis racket, a ball and played on a rectangular court divided by a net. Tennis rules vary from tournament to tournament - the introduction of net and line technology has made the rules of the game more precise - but the basics have remained the same since the late 1800s.

Players stand on opposite sides of the court, which is divided in half by the net, and must attempt to hit the ball back and forth to each other without hitting the ball against the net or outside the boundaries of the court.

The object of the game, and the means by which points are won, is to strike the ball into an area within the boundaries of the court where is it impossible for the opposing player to reach before it bounces twice. Players are allowed to let the ball bounce once before returning it across the net.

When a player accumulates enough points to win a game they must then win six games - with a lead of two clear games - to win a set. Depending on the tournament rules, and the gender of the players, matches are decided by the best of three sets (women) or the best of three or fives sets (men).

A game is decided when one player reaches four points, without the opposing player first reaching three points. A game is scored as Love (0 points) 15 (1 point) - 30 (2 points) - 40 (3 points) - game.

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