Basic Tennis Terminology

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Practice your tennis terminology with this set of basic flashcards.

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Ace

a serve that is a winner without the receiving tennis player able to return the ball.

Ad court

the part of the tennis court that is to the left of the tennis players

Advantage

when a tennis player needs one more point to win the game after the score was deuce.

Alley

the extra area of the side court used for doubles.

ATP

stand for the Association of Tennis Professionals

Backhand

a way to swing the tennis racquet where the player hits the ball with a swing that comes across the body.

Backspin

spin of a tennis ball that causes the ball to slow down and/or bounce low.

Backswing

the motion of a swing that moves the racquet into position to swing forward and strike the ball.

Baseline

the line indicating back of the court.

Baseliner

a tennis player whose strategy is to play from the baseline. See Tennis Strategies for more.

Break

when the server loses the game

Break point

one point away from breaking serve

Chip

blocking a shot with backspin

Chip and charge

an aggressive strategy to return the opponent's serve with backspin and move forward to the net for a volley

Chop

a tennis shot with extreme backspin. Meant to stop the ball where it lands.

Counterpuncher

another name for a player who is a defensive baseliner.

Court

the area where a tennis game is played

Crosscourt

hitting the tennis ball diagonally into the opponent's court

Deep

refers to a shot that bounces near the baseline verses near the net

Deuce

when the score in a game is 40 to 40.

Deuce court

the right side of the court

Double Fault

two missed serves in a row. The server will lose the point.

Doubles

a tennis game played by four players, two per side of the court.

Down the line

hitting a tennis shot straight down the baseline

Drop shot

a strategy where the tennis player hits the ball just go over the net. It is used when the opponent is far from the net.

Drop volley

a drop shot from a volley

Fault

a service that is not in play.

First Service

the first of the two serves of a tennis ball a player is allowed. Generally the server will try a more difficult serve on the first service.

Flat

a shot with little to no spin

Follow through

the part of the swing after the ball is hit. A good follow through is important for accuracy and power.

Foot fault

when the server steps over the baseline while making a serve.

Forehand

a tennis swing where the player hits the tennis ball from behind their body. Often the forehand is the players best stroke.

Game point

one point away to win the tennis game.

Grand Slam

any one of the four most prestigious tennis tournaments including the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Groundstroke

a forehand or backhand shot made after the tennis ball bounces once on the court

Head

the top part of the racket that has the strings and is meant to hit the ball.

Hold

when the server wins the tennis game.

I-formation

a formation in doubled where the both players stand on the same side of the court prior to starting the point.

Jamming

to hit the tennis ball straight to the opponent's body not allowing them to extend the racquet to hit the ball well.

Kick serve

a serve with a lot of spin causing the ball to bounce high

Let

when the tennis ball from a service touches the net but still lands within the service box. The server gets another try as this does not count as a fault.

Lob

a tennis shot where the ball is lifted high above the net. Can be a defensive shot in some cases, but also may cause a winner when the ball is just out of reach of the opponent, but still lands in play.

Love

zero points in a tennis game.

Match point

when one tennis player only needs one more point to win the entire match

Out

any tennis ball that lands outside the area of play.

Passing shot

when the tennis ball is hit such that it passes by the opponent at the net without them being able to hit the ball.

Poaching

an aggressive strategy in doubles where the tennis player at net attempts to volley a shot hit to their partner on the baseline.

Tennis Racquet

the main piece of equipment in tennis. It has a long handle and a oval shaped head with a string mesh stretched across it. It is used by the tennis player to hit the ball.

Rally

when players hit the ball back and forth to each other while the ball is landing in play.

Set point

when a tennis player needs one point to win the set

Singles

a tennis game played by two players

Second Service

the second serve that the server is allowed after missing the first serve. This serve must be successful or the server will lose the point (called a double fault).

Serve

starts the point by the server hitting the tennis ball into the opponents half of the court

Serve and volley

a tennis strategy where the player serves and then charges forward to the net for a volley off of the return.

Spin

rotation of the tennis ball as it moves through the air. Skilled tennis players can control the spin and, therefore, the ball's trajectory and bounce

Straight sets

when one player wins every set in a match.

Topspin

when the tennis ball spins forward. This can cause it to bounce higher as well as dip down quickly.

Unforced error

a missed shot by a player that was not caused by any excellent play by their opponent.

Volley

a shot where the ball is hit by the player's racquet before the ball hits the ground.

Winner

an outstanding tennis shot that cannot be returned by the opponent.

WTA

stands for Women's Tennis Association