It is the oddest things in all of sports. A touchdown is worth 6 (7 with Point After Try) points but it a little more the twice as valuable as a field goal. Basketball a basket is 2 points or if it is far enough away worth 3 points. In baseball when you score a run it is always worth 1 point no matter what. Makes sense…
So why in tennis is there 15, 30, then 40, the game, then you have to win 6 games to win a set, then you need win best 2-3 sets to win the match (Grand Slams for Men is best 3-5)? Oh and lets no forget that “LOVE” means Zero in tennis?!?!
“LOVE” Means Zero in Tennis
Let’s explain how the scoring works before we get into the fun myths.
The match starts out at 0-0 or Love Love. The Server always calls the score and says his/her score first. Whoever is elected to serve first, usually done by either a coin flip or the spin of a racquet, (W or M on a Wilson racquet for example), will serve the entire game to completion.
You need to win 4 points (win by two) to win the game.
A Game In Tennis
15 = 1 point
30 = 2 points
40 = 3 points
Deuce = 40-40
Ad In = Advantage the server (meaning the server is one point away from winning the game and the returning needs to win the point to get it back to deuce)
Ad Out = Advantage the returner.
Ex. 30-15 means the game score is 2 points to 1. 40 – Love is 3 points to 0. 15-40 means 1 point to 3.
After the first game you switch sides, then alternate serves every game. After the first game you switch sides every two games. You need to win 6 Games (win by two) to win the Set.
A Set In Tennis
If there is a tie at 6-6, the set goes into a Tie Breaker to 7 points, win by two. The first person serves once, then you alternate every two serves after that switching sides at 6 total points in the tiebreaker (3-3, 4-2, etc.) The Rules reset into the next set and whoever is suppose to serve next will start the set serving the new set.
You must win 2 sets before the other person does. There is no time limit as with basketball or football, but only when someone has won by 2, they win The Match.
So now that you know the rules, why do tennis plays so 15 and 30 and 40 and Love… Well I’m very excited to answer that question. There are some fun myths about it!
Myths About Tennis Scoring
The first Myth is that they use to keep score by the hands of a clock… The first point went to the 15 second, the next point to the 30, and then to the 45. But then realizing when it went to deuce, they adjusted to 40 so they could make the 50 second the Ad In or Ad Out mark.
This theory has been turned down because they say tennis was invented before clocks, but tennis was invented in 1873 and clocks have been around since at least the 14th century.
Another favorite theory of mine is that the court is 45 feet… Then when a player won the point he moved 15 feet closer. The next point 30 feet closer, but because he can’t stand on top of the net he would be 40 feet closer on the third point.
However there a ton of flaws with this theory. A. Don’t they both always start around the service line. (Maybe the doubles partner moved forward accordingly.) B. In no metrics, American or whatever else the rest of the world uses, are any part of the court 45 ft or meters or anything. But I like the thinking!
Tennis has always been an elitist sport and maybe their scoring system is just that, because they can do whatever they want! No rhyme or reason just cuz! I hope this helps explain the weird tennis scoring system. Trust me, you’ll grow to love it and the little games with in games in order to win a match! You don’t need to win every point.
You just need to win at the right times. It is possible to win less points overall and still win the match! One last note is they have added a serve clock meaning that you have 20 seconds in between each point to serve again. This is only for professionals who towel off every point or adjust their tennis grips often. But common courtesy is to play to the servers speed!
Let me know if you like this scoring or if tennis should switch to the 1-2-3 game method?