How to Keep Score in Tennis
GAME, SET AND MATCH
The structure of a game of tennis is discussed and agreed upon in advance, it is not as straightforward as other sports. The total game is actually called a ‘Match’, and the match consists of the best of a number of ‘Sets’. Each set consists of a number of games, and is won by the player who reaches six games first, as long as they are two games ahead of the other player. Each game consists of a number of points played, and is decided by the first player to win four points, as long as they are 2 points ahead of the other player. Confused! It is complex, and here we will break the scoring down to games, sets and matches.
Players play the games, serving one game, then receiving at the next. The points won follow a strange scoring system. Beginning at zero (Love) points each, this is called ‘Love all’ with the first point being awarded fifteen, the second thirty, the third forty. The fourth point is either going to win the game, or equalize. These are called ‘Game’ or ‘Deuce’. The next point after Deuce will pull one ahead of the opponent, this is called ‘Advantage’. The first player to go two consecutive points ahead after a Deuce is called, wins that game.
The order of calling the points is the server first. So if a game is played, and the server wins the first point, it is called ‘Fifteen – Love’ (15-0), whereas if the receiver wins the first point it is called ‘Love – Fifteen’ (0-15).
If the server wins the first four points, the scoring will be as follows – 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, Game. The server won the first game, so he will be 1-0 in the set.
If the receiver wins the first four points in the second game, the scoring will be as follows – 0-15, 0-30, 0-40, Game. The receiver wins the second game, and the score in the set will now be 1-1.
If the players win alternate points for the first six points, the scoring will be as follows – 15-0, 15-15, 30-15, 30-30, 40-30, Deuce. The next point will result in that player’s name being called with ‘Advantage’ (Player1 – Advantage). If the next point is won by the other player, they will return to Deuce. Once Deuce is reached, the first player to win two point consecutively, wins that game.
In a competition a number of sets will be required to be won to win the match. An example would be a 5 set match, where the first player reaching 3 sets, wins the match. Usually, a set is won by the first player to win six games, as long as they are two games ahead of their opponent. If they reach five sets each (5-5), it can be won at (7-5 or 5-7). However, if the set reaches six all (6-6), a tie breaker game can be played to decide the set.
The final set should they reach it, is usually allowed to continue, until one player goes clear by two games. This can result in a very long set, should the players be well matched, maybe ending in a 15-13 score or even higher.
THE TIE BREAKER
When the players reach six games each (6-6), a tie breaker game is played to decide the set. Each point won in a tie breaker counts as a single point. The first player to reach seven points, wins the tie breaker, as long as they are two points ahead of the opponent. The winner of the tie breaker, wins that set by seven games (7-6 or 6-7).
A match will have the number of sets agreed in advance. The first player to reach an insurmountable number of sets, wins the match.