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What is Tennis?

Tennis is one of the most popular racket games that is played and followed at the international level.
The game involves players striking a ball with rackets and attempting to score points by hitting the ball over a net and onto the opposing player’s court, and can either be played in singles or doubles format.

The popular version today is technically known as lawn tennis, and is a modern version born in the 1870s out of a similar game called real tennis or court tennis. Similar sports to tennis include pickleball, racquetball, squash, and table tennis.

Tennis ball on racket

Where to Play Tennis

Tennis truly is an international sport. Legendary athletes have come from a variety of countries, including but not limited to the United States, Switzerland, Australia, Spain, and France. Almost any country you visit will have tennis players and courts available.

For beginners, public courts are a great way to learn and practice the sport. Tennis courts are typically either clay, grass, or hard surface, although artificial grass is used as a fourth type as well.

Private tennis courts can be found at tennis and racket clubs, or community centers. These typically require a deposit to book the court, but typically have access to better maintenance and facilities.

Tennis Equipment and Gear

The equipment needs for tennis are fairly minimal, although athletes take great care of their racket and strings.


Historically, tennis rackets were fashioned out of solid wood or laminated wood. In today’s game, tennis rackets are either graphite or aluminum.

Common brands include Dunlop, Prince, Babolat, Yonex, Head, and Wilson.


Modern tennis strings are constructed from synthetic nylon, multi-filament, natural, or polyester materials. Synthetic is often the best choice for a tennis beginner.


The classic yellow tennis ball did not exist until 1972, when the ITF introduced a more colorful ball so that viewers could follow the game more easily on their televisions. Tennis balls are constructed from melton wool cloth with a vulcanized rubber seal.

How to Play Tennis

Types of tennis strokes

There are six basic types of tennis strokes, or swings, that a player should develop.

  1. Serve
  2. Forehand Groundstroke
  3. Forehand Volley
  4. Backhand Groundstroke
  5. Backhand Volley
  6. Overhead Smash

Tennis Lessons

Private or group lessons are also a great way to build up tennis skills and gain basic knowledge of the game.

Adaptive Tennis

Tennis strives to be an inclusive sport that people of all ages, genders, and abilities can enjoy. Organizations such as the USTA organize wheelchair tennis and adaptive tennis leagues and tournaments.

Rules of Tennis

“Game, set, match”! Tennis scoring is simple once you understand the basic scoring system. The standard tennis scoring system requires that players or teams need to win four points to win a game.
The numerical scoring goes 0-15-30-40, although the beginning score is referred to as “love” rather than “0”.

A set is won by the player or team who first wins seven games. The entire match is then decided by whichever player or team wins the most sets, and is often the first to win two sets in a best-of-three format.

Other rules are that the serve must completely clear the net to count, although return volleys are allowed to hit the net if the ball still lands on the other court.

How to Watch and Follow Professional Tennis

The most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world are played on the ATP Tour. Thee include the four Grand Slam tournaments:

  1. Australian Open
  2. French Open (Roland Garros)
  3. Wimbledon
  4. US Open

Tennis is also played as an Olympic sport in the Summer Olympics.

Tennis Etiquette for Beginners

Tennis is often regarded as a “gentleman’s sport” and participants are expected to conduct themselves appropriately.

  • Check if public courts require advance reservations or have a time limit to ensure that all players have an equal opportunity to play the game.
  • Bring an unopened can of tennis balls, especially if you are playing a competitive or semi-competitive match.
  • Avoid excessive celebration, and don’t celebrate points where opponent makes an error.
  • if you are playing on a public court, be mindful but swift when crossing across other courts.
  • Also, do not panic if you accidentally hit or toss a ball into another court, but do try to be considerate and keep the balls confined to your court.

Tennis Resources for Beginners

International Tennis Federation (ITF)

Association of Tennis Professional (ATP)

United States Tennis Association (USTA)