Lawn Tennis Glossary


Ace  A service of a tennis ball that is not returned by an opponent and is deemed to be in play by the umpire.
Ad court  The left side of the court of each player
Advantage  When one player wins a point from a deuce and needs one more point to win the game
Alley  The area of the court between the singles and doubles sidelines, also known as the tramlines
Approach shot  A shot used as a setup as the player runs up to the net, often using underspin
ATP   Association of Tennis Professionals, the men's professional circuit
Backhand  A method of wielding a tennis racquet where the player hits the tennis ball with a stroke that comes across their body with the back of their racquet hand facing the ball
Backswing  The portion of a swing before the ball is hit
Bagel  Winning a set 6-0. A double bagel is winning 6-0, 6-0.
Ball Boy  A person, male or female, tasked with retrieving tennis balls from the court that have gone out of play
Baseline   the chalk line at the farthest ends of the court indicating the boundary of the area of play.
Baseliner   a player whose strategy is to stay at the baseline during play
Big serve   a forceful serve, usually giving an advantage in the point for the server
Block   a defensive shot with relatively little backswing, usually while returning a serve
Bread stick   winning a set 6-1. See also bagel
Break   to lose a game to an opponent when you are serving
Break point   one point away from a break
Closed stance   hitting the ball with the body facing between parallel to the baseline and backturned to the opponent; it is known as a classic technique.
Chip   blocking a shot with underspin
Chip and charge   an aggressive strategy to return the opponent's serve with underspin and move forward to the net
Chop   a shot with extreme underspin
Counterpuncher   a defensive baseliner. See tennis strategy
Court   the area designated for playing a game of tennis
Crosscourt   hitting the ball diagonally into the opponent's court
Deep   a shot that lands near the baseline, as opposed to near the net
Deuce   the score 40-40 in a game. A player must win two consecutive points from a deuce before winning the game. See advantage
Deuce court   the right side of the court of each player
Dink   hitting a shot with no pace
Dirtballer   a clay court specialist
Double Fault   two faults in a row in one point, causing the player serving to lose the Point
Doubles   a tennis game played by four players, two per side of the court
Down the line   hitting the ball straight ahead into the opponent's court
Drop shot   a play in which the player hits the ball lightly enough to just go over the net; designed to catch a player off guard who is away from the net
Drop volley   a drop shot executed from a volley
Fault   an unsuccessful serve that fails to place the ball in the correct area of play therefore not starting the Point
First Service   the first of the two serves of a tennis ball a player is allowed at the beginning of a Point.
Flat   e.g. a flat serve; a shot with relatively no spin
Follow through   the portion a swing after the ball is hit
Foot fault   a fault caused by the server stepping into the tennis court
Forehand   a method of wielding a tennis racquet where the player hits the tennis ball with a stroke that comes from behind their body with the front of their racquet hand facing the ball
Game point   one point away to win the game.
Golden set   winning a set without losing a point
Golden Slam   winning the Grand Slam and the tennis Olympic gold medal in a calendar year
Grand Slam   the four most prestigious tournaments in a year: the Australian Open, the French Open (or Roland Garros), Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Winning the Grand Slam is winning all four in a calendar year.
Groundies   see Groundstroke
Groundstroke   a forehand or backhand shot that is executed after the ball bounces once on the court
Hail Mary   an extremely high lob, for defensive purposes
Head   (racket) the portion of the racket that contains the strings
Hold   winning the game when serving
I-formation   (in doubles) a formation where the server and his partner stand on the same side of the court (deuce- or ad-court) before starting the point
Inside-out   running around one side (e.g. the backhand side) and hitting a crosscourt shot
Inside-in   running around one side and hitting it down the line; less popular than the inside-out
Jamming   to serve or return straight to the opponent's body
Kick serve   a type of spin serve that bounces high
Lawn Tennis   tennis played on a court laid out on a grass covered surface
Let   when the ball touches the net but enters the opponent's half of the court within the play area. The point is replayed
Line Judge   a person designated to observe the passage of tennis balls over the boundary lines of the court. A Line Judge can declare that a play was within or outside of the play area and cannot be overruled by the players. A line Judge must defer to an Umpire's decision, even when it contradicts their own observations.
Lob   a stroke in tennis where the ball is lifted high above the net with the intention of it going over the opposing player in the case of him being close to the net, thus nearly guaranteeing the point
Love   zero (score) Love game a shutout game won without the other player scoring
Match point   a situation when the player who is leading needs one more point to win the match
Mini-break   to win a point from the opponent's serve in a tiebreak
Mixed Doubles   a tennis game played by four players, two players are male, two are female, one of each player sex per side of the court
Moonball   an extremely high lob
No-Man's Land   the area between the service line and the baseline, where a player is most vulnerable
Open stance   hitting the ball with the body facing between parallel to the baseline and facing the opponent; it is known as a modern technique.
Out   any ball that lands outside the play area
Overrule   reversing a call from the linesperson, done by the umpire
Passing shot   A shot that passes by the opponent at the net, but not over him (see lob)
Poaching   (in doubles) an aggressive move where the player at net moves to volley a shot intended for his/her partner
Point   the period of play between the first successful service of a ball to the point at which that ball goes out of play
Pusher   a player who does not try to hit winners, but only to return it safely
Putaway   a shot to try to end the point from an advantageous situation
Racquet   a bat with a long handle and a large looped head with a string mesh tautly stretched across it, made of wood, metal or some other synthetic material, that is used by a tennis player to hit the tennis ball during a game of tennis - (see also Racket)
Rally   (Following the service of a tennis ball)  A series of return hits of the ball that ends when one or other player fails to return the ball within the court boundary or fails to return a ball that falls within the play area.
Referee   a person in charge of enforcing the rules in a tournament, as opposed to a tennis match (see Umpire)
Retriever   a defensive baseliner. See tennis strategy
Set point   one point away from winning a set
Singles   a tennis game played by two players
Second Service   the second and final of the two serves of a tennis ball a player is allowed at the beginning of a Point
Serve   to begin a point by hitting the ball into the opponents half of the court
Serve and volley   a strategy to serve and immediately move forward to make a volley and hopefully a winner
Slice   (rally) hitting a tennis ball with underspin; (service) serving with sidespin
Spin   rotation of the ball as it moves through the air, affecting its trajectory and bounce
Split step   a footwork technique by doing a small hop just before the opponent is hitting the ball
Tanking   to purposefully lose a match, because of poor mental game or others. Or, to simply purposefully lose one unnecessary set, so as to focus energy and attention on the final and match-deciding set
Tennis Ball   a soft, hollow, air filled rubber ball coated in a synthetic fur used in the game of tennis
Tiebreak   a special game at the score 6-6 in a set to decide the winner of the set; the winner is the first to reach at least 7 points with a difference of 2 from the opponent.
Topspin   spin of a ball that goes forward over the top of the ball, causing the ball to dip and bounce higher
Tramline   a line defining the limit of play on the side of a singles or doubles court.
Underspin   spin of a ball that goes forward under of the ball, causing the ball to float and bounce lower
Umpire   (during play)  an independent person designated to enforce the rules of the game in a match, usually sitting on a high chair beside the net
Unforced error   during play, an error in a service or return shot that cannot be attributed to any factor other than poor judgement by the player.
Wild card   a player let by organizers to play in a tournament, even if his/her rank is not adequate or does not register in time
Winner   (rally) a forcing shot that can not be reached by the opponent and wins the point; (service) a forcing serve that is reached by the opponent, but is not returned properly, and wins the point
WTA   Women's Tennis Association, the women's professional circuit