Here is a list of some words commonly used in Tennis. Maybe there are a couple of words you don’t understand or have forgotten what they mean. If so, you can find the meaning of these words here.

Approach / Attack

A ground stroke shot that is made by hitting the ball as the player approaches, gets nearer, the net.

Baseline play

A period of play with the player(s) staying at the baseline. This is the sort of play you will normally see in a long rally and can provide for some tense entertainment.


Refers to the line that is furthest away from the net and also the point from where a player will serve.


When a player wins a game on the opponents serve. The commentators on TV would usually say something such as “Murray now has a break point” which means that he has a chance to win the game whilst returning serve.


A shot played diagonally across the court.


On TV you can hear the judge say Deuce when the score is 40-40 in a game, it is an expression that is followed by an advantage to the player winning the next point.

Double Fault

If a player fails to get both serves in to play, it is a double fault and the opponent wins the point.

Flack ball

A ball struck without topspin.


The point being played after 40-40. The server or receiver has an advantage here and will win the game if they win this point.

Foot Fault

When the receiving player touches the line before the serving player has struck the ball.

Half Volley

When the racket strikes the ball immediately after it bounces. Usually it is used as one advances towards the net.


This is the programming used to control the cameras in order to follow the game with precision.


The player plays a shot that is above him/her, normally stretching up or jumping. This will be used to either return a lob or to hit a smash shot (a powerful shot hit downwards into the court leaving the opponent hardly any chance of returning it).


This is when you sprint to the backhand side in order to hit the ball with the forehand.


The two parallel lines that go along the court. The outermost used in doubles, the single is for singles.

Kick serve

A serve with so much spin that the ball bounces off when it strikes the ground.


A serve that hits the top of the net but lands in play. The server gets the chance to serve again without a fail being called.


The expression used when a player has zero points, so when the score is 15-0 it is called as “fifteen – love”.


A high shot that flies (lobbed) over the opponents head so that the player cannot reach it.

Net Game

When a player plays right up at the net, usually returning shots with a series of volleys.

Passing Shot

A shot that passes by the opponent who is either at or approaching the net.


Is the current score of the match, so for example it could be 1-0 in sets and 4-5 in games. That is the score.


A set of Tennis consists of several games. A player will win the set if they are first to reach six games with a two game advantage over their opponent. If the score reaches 5-5, a player must win the next two games for a 7-5 set win or if the set reaches 6-6 it will go to a tie-break. The only time a tie break isn’t used is in the deciding set of matches played in certain tournaments. A match on the WTA Tour is best of 3 sets, whilst on the ATP Tour it varies between best of 3 and best of 5.


The ball is shot with backspin and can either be used as an offensive or defensive shot. The ball normally lands with a low bounce and it is usually difficult for the opponent to return.

End change

After the first game of the match, the players will change ends and then, after every two games the players will change ends again. This is to avoid a player getting an unfair advantage with wind assisted shots or perhaps the sun is shining directly onto one end of the court.


Players have two chances to serve. They stand behind the baseline and serve diagonally, from one side of the court to the other. If a player fails to get both serves into play the opponent wins a point.


These are used when the score reaches 6-6 in a set. A Tie-break will be played by alternating serves between the two players, until one player reaches 7 points. If the score goes to 6-6 on points it must be won by two clear points.

Top Spin

A shot that uses Top Spin is one of the most common types of shot and is a forward shot hit from the bottom up in order to arc over the net and fall down quickly, usually creating a momentum on the ball after it bounces.