Ace: a service point won by the server because the receiver doesn’t return, or even touch, the ball.
Advantage (or ad) court: left-hand side of the court.

Advantage (or Ad): the point played after deuce, which if won, ends the game.

Advantage set: a set that can only be won when one opponent has won six games and is two games clear of their opponent. The final sets of singles matches at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, Davis Cup and the Olympics are all advantage sets.

All: term used when both players have the same number of points from 15-15 (15-all) to 30-30 (30-all). When the score is 40-40 the term is deuce.

All-court player: someone who is equally comfortable playing from the baseline, mid-court and net.

Alley: (see tramlines.)

Approach shot: a shot used by a player to pin their opponent behind the baseline so that they can run to the net for a volley.

ATP: Association of Tennis Professionals, the governing body of men’s tennis.

ATP World Tour: circuit of men’s professional tennis tournaments.

Australian Open: First Grand Slam tournament of the tennis calendar played in January at Melbourne Park on blue Plexicushion courts.


Back court: area behind the court between the baseline and the back fence.

Backhand: shot struck by holding the racquet in the dominant hand but swinging the racquet from the non-dominant side of the body with the back of the dominant hand pointing in the direction the ball is being hit. (See also two-handed backhand.)

Backspin: spin imparted on the underside of the ball causing it to revolve backwards while travelling forwards. Used in slice and drop shots.

Backswing: component of the swing where the racquet is taken back behind the body in preparation for the forward motion that leads to contact with the ball.

Bagel: colloquial term for winning or losing a set to love, the 0 in the score line evoking the shape of a bagel.

Ballkid: boy or girl (or man or woman) responsible for retrieving tennis balls that are out of play and supplying them to the server before each point.

Baseline: the line at each end of the court behind which the server stands to serve.

Baseliner: a player who prefers to play at the baseline, relying on their groundstrokes.

Break: a service game that is won by the player receiving serve.

Break back: game won by a receiver who has previously conceded their own service game during the same set.

Break point: point held by a receiver that, if won, earns them their opponent’s service game. The scores 0-40, 15-40, 30-40 and 40-Ad are all break points.

Bye: situation in which a player advances automatically to the next round of a tournament without having to play a match. Generally a privilege extended to seeded players in the opening round of a tournament.


Call: a player or court official’s decision as to whether a ball was in or out.

Chalk: the material used to mark court lines on grass courts.

Challenge: disputing what a player believes to be an incorrect line call via video line-calling.

Challenger tournaments: week-long ITF events positioned one tier below ATP and WTA Tour tournaments that are staged all over the world and are part of the Pro Tour in Australia.

Champions’ tiebreak: method used to decide the outcome of a doubles match, usually when players are at one set-all. Players alternate serve with the first to reach 10 points with a two-point advantage winning the match.

Change of ends: ninety-second rest period taken courtside, between odd games, before players move to the other end of the court and continue play.

Chip: Method of using underpin to block a shot back into court. Sometimes used as a tactic to counteract a powerful serve.

Chip-and-charge: tactic whereby a player chips the ball into their opponent’s court and immediately approaches the net for a volley.

Clay court: playing surface made of finely powdered red or green clay.

Code violation: penalty for breaking tennis’ code of conduct rules. The first infraction incurs a warning, the second a point penalty, the third a game penalty and the fourth results in default from the match.

Counterpuncher: player who employs a defensive playing style.

Court: the area within which a match is played.

Cross-court shot: shot hit from one corner of the court to the diagonally opposite corner.

Cyclops: device used prior to video line-calling to determine whether a serve was in or out.


Davis Cup: annual international men’s team competition staged by the ITF.

Dead rubber: match played after the result of a team competition has already been decided. In men’s tennis the number of sets played is usually reduced from best of five to three, or teams may agree not to play dead rubbers.

Deep: a shot that lands near the baseline rather than mid-court, generally putting the player who receives it under pressure.

Default: disqualification of a player due to code violations.

Deuce: terminology for the score when it stands at 40-40. A player must win two-consecutive points from deuce in order to win the game.

Deuce court: the right-hand side of the court.

Dink: shot hit with little power or pace that just clears the net.

Dirt-baller: colloquial term for a claycourt specialist.

Double fault: consecutive faults on serve, resulting in the returner winning the point.

Doubles: a match between teams of two players.

Down the line: shot hit straight down the court, close to one of the sidelines.

Drop shot: a delicate shot employing backspin that drops just over the net.

Drop volley: a delicate volley employing touch that drops just over the net.


En Tout Cas: playing surface made from coarse crushed red brick material.

Error: a shot that lands out, or doesn’t clear the net, resulting in the loss of a point.

Exhibition: match or tournament played for entertainment and prize money but not for ranking points.


Fault: a serve that hits the net or doesn’t land within the service box and consequently does not start the point. Consecutive faults are termed a double fault and result in the loss of a point.

Fed Cup: annual international women’s team competition staged by the ITF.

Fifteen: opening point of a game for either player or team.

First serve: the first of two serves a player is allowed in order to start a point.

Follow through: component of the swing after the racquet has connected with the ball.

Foot fault: penalty when a serving player steps on or over the baseline, or over the baseline’s centre mark, before connecting with the ball, resulting in a service fault.

Forced error: an error made off a difficult shot hit by an opponent.

Forehand: stroke made with the front of the dominant hand facing the direction in which the ball is being struck.

Forty: the third point won in a game by either player or team. If both parties reach 40 it is called deuce.

French Open: second Grand Slam of the tournament calendar. Played on clay courts in May at Roland Garros in Paris.

Futures: week-long ITF men’s events positioned one tier below ATP Tour tournaments that are staged all over the world and are part of the Pro Tour in Australia.


GOAT: acronym for Greatest Of All Time.

Game: the building blocks of a set. Each set must comprise at least six games.

Game point: a point that, if won, will result in a player winning the game they are playing.

Game, set, match: the words a match umpire uses to indicate that a match has concluded.

Golden Grand Slam: the feat whereby a player wins all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in the same year.

Grand Slam: the feat whereby a player wins all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year. Also know as majors, the four Grand Slam tournaments are the most prestigious tennis tournaments on the annual calendar, offering the most ranking points and the highest amount of prize money. The Grand Slams are the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Groundstroke: shots hit from on, or behind, the baseline after the ball has bounced.

Grunting: noise emitted by players through exertion or as a breathing technique as they are hitting the ball.


Hacker: player with an unconventional or un-coached playing style.

Half volley: volley made off a low-bouncing ball by placing the racquet close to the court surface.

Hawk-Eye: system of video line-calling employed by the Grand Slams.

Hold serve: situation in which a serving player wins their service game.

Hot Dog: trick shot whereby a player chases down a lob, then hits the ball between his legs from behind the baseline with his back to the net.