How to Keep Score in Tennis | Tennis-Point

One of the first things you should learn when understanding the fundamentals of tennis is how to keep score. All tennis players need to be able to keep score, but it's not as easy to understand as it is in other sports. So, we've put together a brief guide to the tennis scoring system to help you understand a bit more quickly.

The way that tennis is scored differs greatly from how other sports are scored. Having said that, it's quite easy once you understand the format structure of tennis. In tennis, points make up games, games make up sets and sets make up a match. Below, we’ll break down the scoring of a match so you can be prepared for your next match!.

Scoring a game

The scoring system in a game of tennis is quite easy to understand once you can “translate” tennis scoring to standard scoring across other sports.

  • 0 points = "Love"
  • 1 point = 15
  • 2 points = 30
  • 3 points = 40
  • 4 points = Game
  • Tied score = All
    • 15-all
    • 30-all
      • Both players/teams have 3 points (40-40) = Deuce
        • Serving player/team wins Deuce point = Advantage-In
        • Receiving player/team wins Deuce point = Advantage-Out

In order to win the game, you must win a minimum of 4 points with a 2-point lead. When calling the game score, the serving player/team’s score is always called first.

For example, if the serving team is ahead 40-love, 40-15, or 40-30, they only need to win one more point to win the game. If the game is tied at 3 points all, or 40-40 (Deuce), either team needs to win the next two consecutive points to win the game. If the serving team wins the Deuce point, then it becomes Ad-In, but if they lose the advantage point, the score goes back to Deuce until either team wins 2 consecutive points. If the serving team wins the game, it is considered ‘holding serve’ as the serving team has the upper hand on their own serve. If they lose their service game, it is considered ‘breaking serve’ for the receiving team.

There are two halves on the tennis court: the deuce court and the ad court. There is a hashmark in the center of the baseline that separates the two halves of the court. The deuce court is on the right, and the ad court is on the left when looking at the net from the baseline. Any even number of points begin with the server on the deuce court (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) and any odd number of points begin with the server in the ad court (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.). For example, if the score is 30-0, meaning two points have been played, then the server lines up to serve the next point in the deuce court. If the score is 15-30, meaning three points have been played, then the server lines up in the ad court to serve the next point.

Scoring a set

Let's look at how to win a set now that we know how to win a game. A player or team wins a set when they have a lead of at least two games and six games won total. However, two typical set types dictate how a set will conclude:

Tiebreak Set

The most common set played at all levels is a Tiebreak Set. The way to win the set is the first team or player to score 6 games with a 2-game lead. If the set score reaches 5-5, the set continues to 7. However, if no player can reach a 2-game lead and 6-6 is reached, then a tiebreak is played to decide the winner.

In a tie break, the player that is supposed to serve at 6-6 starts off the tiebreak by serving one point from the deuce court. After that, the opposing player serves the following 2 points starting in the ad court with their first service point and then the second point served from the deuce court, before switching back to the other player. The players change ends on the court every 6 points, and the tiebreak winner is ultimately decided by the first player to reach 7 points with a 2-point lead. Once a winner is determined, the set score will be displayed as 7-6.

Whomever served second in the tiebreak or served at 5-6 before the tiebreak, will start off serving the next set.

Advantage Set

In an Advantage Set, the game and set scoring is the same as a tiebreak set except there is no tiebreaker at 6-6. The set continues until one player or team has a 2-game advantage which is done by ‘breaking’ your opponents serve.

Note: As of 2022, this format is largely obscolete and was only used during the French Open and Wimbledon. This is not used in any other setting.

Scoring a match

As we said at the beginning of this guide, points make up games, games make up sets and winning more sets than your opponent wins you the match. Most matches are played best 2 out of 3 sets except for the Grand Slam Major tournaments for the Men on the ATP Tour which are played best 3 out of 5 sets. If the match score is ever tied at 1 set all for Best of 3 or 2 sets all for Best of 5, a final tiebreak set is played. If the set score reaches 6-6, then a 10-point tiebreak is played to determine the winner. The format of the tiebreak is the same for a 7-point tiebreak mentioned above, except that you must reach 10 points to determine the winner of the final set tiebreak.