How To Keep Score In Tennis

If you are a little confused as to what’s going on in the tennis court and trying to read the scores when you watch it on TV but you want to have a game and need to be able to keep score, then don’t worry.

Tennis is not a straightforward sport to understand at first, but once you get the fundamentals down, you’ll feel like a seasoned pro.

In this post, we’ll go over how to keep score in tennis, so you can enjoy anice game of tennis at your local court. You should be able to get through this post pretty quickly, as we’ve stuck to only the key ideas!

The basics

  • Each game of tennis consists of either three or two sets. In order for a player to win a set, they must win at least six games.
  • Every game is scored starting at zero, and goes up to forty points – even though it’s technically just four points. From zero, the next point is 15, then 30, then 40, which wins the game for the best player.

Getting the game started

  • To start a tennis game, one person flips a coin or spins a racket to determine who serves first. Whoever wins the toss gets to decide several things:
    • Whether to serve first or second.
    • What side of the court to start on.
    • Or if the winner wants to leave the above choices to his or her opponent.
  • Whoever serves first will serve throughout the game until its conclusion.
  • Players serve from the court’s baseline, which is the right-hand side of the court.

Scoring the Game

  • Before the player serves the ball, they should announce the score, with your score first being the first number spoken and then your opponent’s number.
  • A player gets two attempts at serving. The ball must go over the net, and land in the ‘service box’ on the opposing side, as well as bouncing towards the opposing player.
  • If the ball does not land in the service box, the player is required to serve the ball again. If the second attempt misses again, the player loses a point.
  • If the ball grazes the net but lands in the box, the serve does not count, but you must take that server over (this is known as a “let”).
  • If the serve goes in and the other player is successful at returning it, players continue hitting the ball back and forth until it hits the net, lands out of bounds, or someone misses the ball. Any of the aforementioned events will cause one player to gain a point at the expense of the other player.
  • The game continues until the score reaches 40 at which point the player on 40 can win the game by winning the next point. If the game is tied at 40, it is known as a “deuce.”, which in tennis lingo means a tie. In order to break the stalemate, a player must earn two points in a row.
  • Once the game finishes, the other person begins serving. Every odd-numbered game a different player will be the one to serve.

Scoring a Set

  • Before the beginning serve in each new game, the server is required to announce the score in sets. One should announce their score first and then the opponent’s score.
  • One set consists of six games; the first person to win six games and be 2 games ahead wins the set.
  • If the score ties at 6-6, you play a tiebreaker.

Scoring the Match

  • All of the above is known as a match. The match is then determined by the best out of two of three sets. In other words, if a player wins two sets, they win the game. If you each win a set, then you must play a third set to determine the overall winner.


So that’s pretty much everything that you need to know when it comes to keeping score in tennis.

If you’re still stuck scratching your head trying to figure out the game, (which is understandable) there are plenty of tutorials that can give you some visual and audio clues on how to read a game, as well as some content that can break down everything for you in real time.