How Does Scoring Work In Tennis?

Tennis is a fast-paced game which means that the scoring needs to be quick and in line with the speed of the game. For beginners, the constantly changing numbers can be a cause for confusion.

To keep it simple, you should always remember that:

  • Four points wins the game
  • Six games wins the set
  • Two sets wins the match

Still confused? Here’s a brief guide on how you can tally scores during the match and keep track of who wins and who loses.

Starting The Game

Much like other sports, a tennis game will start with the coin toss, where you get to choose whether to serve or receive a serve. If you decide to serve, your opponent gets to choose which side of the court they can stand on. This may seem like a non-issue right now, but on a bright day, staying on the side of the court with the least amount of sun is beneficial.

To start the game, you serve from the court’s baseline. If you’re serving, your opponent will have to return the ball to you after one bounce into a single section of the court. After this, you and your opponent will volley, which is essentially returning the ball back and forth. If the ball is missed by your opponent, bounces more than once, or goes out of bound while they’re serving, you get a point and vice versa.

Scoring Points

Man playing tennis


If you score points first, you have to announce them during your first serve. You will have to call out “15-love”, where love is zero, and one point equals 15. The first two points are counted in increments of 15, and then the third and following are counted as 10.

If, after scoring your first point, your opponent scores a point, you will call out “15-all” during your serve, meaning that both players are now tied. If your opponent wins again, you call out “15-30” to signify that your opponent has now won 2 points against your 1. The game will continue with you serving until someone scores 4 points to win the game.

If both players get 40 points, then the score is called a ‘deuce,’ and the only way to win is for a player to get two consecutive points; the first point, which is called an advantage, and the game-winning point.

Starting A Set

If the previous set you were playing ended with an odd number of total games, then the players must switch their sides of the court. With the switch, the player who serves first will also change. So, if you were serving first in the beginning, in the new set, your opponent will serve.

In men’s tennis tournaments, players need to win three out of five sets. In women’s professional tennis, two out of three sets need to be won for a match to conclude.

Want more instructions and help with tennis? Get in touch with Nick Gallagher Tennis Instruction for tennis lessons in Palm Beach. Contact them today for an appointment.