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Tennis Basics


TENNIS BASICS


 The court

 

The game of tennis is played on a court 78 feet long by 27 feet wide on a variety of surfaces including clay, grass, carpet and hard. The court is divided in half by a net over which players must hit the ball. There are white baselines at each end of the court, where serves are taken and beyond which the ball must not bounce - if it does, then the ball is out and the hitter loses the point. Each side is lined with two white marks to indicate the width of the court. The inner line shows the dimensions for singles play and the outer for doubles play. Stretching from the net, to halfway down the court, there is a short white line dividing it into boxes - this is the service court.

 

 

The play

 

Tennis can be played as a singles game - with one player on each side of the net - or as doubles play - with two players on each side. Each point is started with a serve, taken from behind the baseline. The ball must bounce into the service court on the diagonally opposite side and the point continues until one player fails to hit the ball back or puts it outside the court dimensions.

 

 

Serving

 

Standing with both feet behind the baseline you need to take up a sideways stance. Keep your left foot pointed towards the right-hand net post. Your left hand is holding the ball and will be raised into an upright position to release the ball above your head - a good height to throw the ball is about 18 inches above your normal reach. Make sure you don't release the ball too soon - it will fly at an angle towards the net and force you to lean forward to hit it. Ideally the ball should be thrown about 1 foot in front of your left foot.

 



 While the ball in the air you need to bring your racket back and up towards the throwing action you will use to hit the ball. You should be ready to hit the ball at full stretch, with your racket arm straight, at the highest point you can reach it. At this stage you are switching the weight of your body from your back foot to the front one to give added strength to your shot.

 

Make sure that you hit the ball with an "up and over" action - as if you were throwing the racket at the ball. After you hit the ball, follow through with your swing and this will carry you forward into the court to hit the returned shot.

 

(Note: These instructions presume you are a right-handed player.)

 

 

Continuing Play

 

Once the serve is successfully hit, the play continues with a variety of different shots. The most common shot you will play is the ground stroke (the name given to a shot that is taken after the ball has bounced once). These can be broken down into the forehand (made with the face of the racket, with the palm of your hand facing the ball) or the backhand (made with the reverse side of the racket, with the palm of your hand facing away from the ball).

 

Hitting these shots successfully very much depends on how you grip the racket. There are two distinct grips for the two distinct shots in tennis - the forehand and backhand - so it important to learn each one to play the shot well.

 



 

 For the forehand

 

The most common grip in tennis is the eastern forehand and the one you will use for your forehand drive and the majority of your shots. It has often been dubbed the "shake hands" grip because you take the racket in your hand as if you are going to shake hands with it. To ensure that you have the correct grip, it's a good idea to place your hand flat on the racket strings, then slide your hand down to the handle. Now wrap your fingers around the racket and keeping tension out of your fingers. Your first finger should be forward slightly as if your were holding the trigger of a gun.

 

For play on hard courts, players have developed a western grip and it is good for those high bouncing balls. For this grip, move your thumb clockwise on to the top of the handle and your palm will slide under the handle, making it easier to play waist-high shots.

 

 

For the backhand

 

First adopt the eastern forehand, then move your hand anti-clockwise around the handle, tucking your thumb underneath and making sure your palm is more on the top. Wrapping your thumb around the handle like this, allows the grip to be more firm. However, you must make sure that your fingers are not too close together.

 

Many players adopt a two-handed backhand for extra strength. Adopt the same grip, bracing your second hand adjacent to the first.

 

 

As a general rule, adopt the eastern forehand for the serve and overhead smash, as well as the forehand ground stroke. For volleys (made when you hit the ball without letting it bounce first) simply adopt the forehand or backhand grip, depending on the direction of the volley.

 

 

The score

 

Probably the most difficult thing for beginners is the scoring of the game. If all the "love", "deuce" and "tie-breaker" is totally confusing to you during a tennis match, then you'll need to brush up on how tennis is scored. It may seem complicated at first but learning the basics will help you understand the game better.

 

 

The Match

 

Firstly, the full game is called a match and a player wins a match by winning either 2 out of the possible 3 sets or 3 of the possible 5 sets (as in some men's games).

 

 

The Set

 

A player wins a set by winning 6 games (but he must win by two games. For example, he cannot win a set at 6-5. He must win one more to make it 7-5). If the players tie at 6 games each in a set, they must play a tiebreaker. The player who wins this must get to 7 points but again he must win by 2 points. The tiebreaker will continue after one gets to 7 until one player is two points ahead - it is not unusual, therefore, for a tiebreaker to go to 12-10 or some similar score. The exception to this rule is the Wimbledon Championships - here the last set in a match cannot be decided on a tiebreaker and the players will continue to play until one wins by two games.

 

 

The Game

 

Each game is divided into 4 scores - "15", "30", "40" and "game". If a player has no score in a game, then he is at "love". So the players start their game. When one scores a point he will be at "15-love". The second player wins the next point and the score goes to "15-15" and so on until one reaches "game". If both players tie at "40-40", this is called "deuce" and now the win-by-two rule comes into play again. At "40-40" the next player to win a point will go to "advantage" and then to "game".

 

 

Point to remember

 

The server's score is always given first, so if the core is "30-15" you know that the server has won 2 points in the game and is at "30".

Source: essortment.com

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