the general rules and regulations of tennis is a first step to enjoying a sport you can play all year-round, with minimal equipment and just one other person.
The term “lawn tennis” might evoke images of players dressed all in white hitting at the All England Club, home of Wimbledon. It can mean that however, lawn tennis is simply another name for tennis. It doesn’t matter whether you play the game on grass, clay or concrete the rules remain the same. Tennis players in the United States abide by the rules and regulations of the United States Tennis Association, which follows the International Tennis Federation’s rules and regulations. A rulebook is required to know the myriad rules and regulations of tennis, but you need only understand a general overview to enjoy playing and watching the game.
The basic rules of lawn tennis are something every soon-to-be professional, racket-wielding athlete needs to know. “Lawn tennis,” as the nineteenth century original variation was called, has its origins in the United Kingdom. From there, the several variations of lawn tennis have spread to every known corner of the globe. Luckily for you, the rules of lawn tennis aren’t complicated, but pay attention.
The tennis court must be 78 feet long, from baseline to baseline, and 27 feet wide for singles and the same 78 feet long, but 36 feet wide for doubles. A net that is 3 feet high at the center and 3 1/2 feet high on both ends is strung across the middle of the court, attached by net posts. The court has service box lines on both sides of the net to signify the two service courts on each side. The service box lines extend 21 feet from the net and are parallel to the net. A line down the middle of the court, on both sides of the net, which extends from the net to the service box line, separates the court’s right and left sides. The right-hand side of the court is the “deuce” side, and the left-hand side is the “ad” side. Lines also differentiate the singles court from the doubles court.
Serve it Up
Players typically toss a coin to decide who will serve first. The server stands behind the base line, between the center mark and the alley lane. The server cannot step on or over any lines while serving. The server must toss the ball upward and hit it over the net into the box diagonally across from him. The server gets two chances to make a good serve. Two failures means a “double fault,” which gives the point to the receiver.
There are lots of rules regarding serving, and even the pros on the lawns at Wimbledon violate them on a regular basis. The basics are simple. You hold the ball in your hand, release it into the air in any direction and smack it with the racket beforethe ball hits the ground. If the ball travels over the net and into the receiving court for singles play, the serve is a legal one and it’s “Game On!” But watch those toes. If you change positions by running or walking as you serve, or you touch or cross the baseline with either foot, you’re guilty of a foot fault and you have to re-serve. A double fault two faults in a row and you lose the point.
Playing a Point
Players flip a coin to see who serves first. The server begins from the deuce side, behind the baseline, and the ball must land in the service box of the opponent’s deuce side. The server gets two chances to get the serve in. Otherwise, he loses the point. He must serve the next point from the ad side to the service box of the opponent’s ad side. Servers continue to switch between the deuce and ad sides after each point is played.
USTA regulations refer to tournaments. Whether the tournament is a professional or an amateur one, there must be uniformity that applies to all the tournaments in the circuit. There is typically a tournament committee with a director, a chairperson and a referee. The tournament must provide an adequate number of courts so the event can be completed on time. There are certain rules for entering, and there is a draw, which determines who plays whom at what point of the tournament.