Tennis is a sport played on a court with a racket and a ball. It can be played by two (as in singles) or four (as in doubles) indoors or outdoors. Courts are divided by a net and marked with two sets of lines, one for singles and one for doubles play.
The court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for a singles game. When playing doubles, the width boundaries are 36 feet apart. The court may be grass, clay, asphalt, concrete, wood, turf, or composite. The ball is made of hollow inflated rubber 2.5 to 2.6 inches in diameter. The rubber is covered with a wool fabric. It is usually yellow, although other colors may be used. Tennis rackets vary in size and shape, although the maximum tournament length is 29 inches and the maximum width is 12.5 inches. The racket head is no more than 15.5 inches and 11.5 inches wide. It is strung with thin overlapping cords of gut, nylon, or other materials. Originally made of wood, most current rackets are now made of stronger and lighter materials such as aluminum, graphite, and carbon fiber. The handle features a rubber or leather grip and vibration-dampening technology. Clothing is usually lightweight shirts, shorts, and short skirts. Shoes with nonskid rubber soles are also worn.
Each point of a tennis game begins with a serve. The player serving the ball is the server and the one receiving the ball is the receiver. The server tosses the ball into the air and strikes it with the racket before it touches the ground, aiming to hit the ball into the opponent's area to begin the volley. The server usually uses an overhand motion to strike the ball from behind the base line. The first serve of the game is hit from the right side of the court into the diagonally opposite side of the court. A fault is called if the ball does not enter the opponent's court on this side, is out of court bounds, or is served into the net. After a fault, the server may attempt to serve again, but if the next serve results in a fault, a double fault is called. A double fault results in a point being awarded to the server's opponent. If a proper serve is not touched by the opponent's racket, it is called an ace. After the first point, the serve is made from the left side of the court and alternates accordingly after each serve throughout the game. A successful serve results in the ball being hit back and forth until one player or team fails to return it. The ball must not bounce twice in a row on the same side of the court. It also cannot be hit into the net or outside boundary lines.
The rules for scoring are the same in singles and doubles games. Unless it results in a tie, a tennis game is played to four points. The first point is called "15," the second "30," the third, "40," and the fourth point is called "game." Zero points is called "love" and a tie at 40 is called "deuce." The game must be won by two points, so after a tie play continues until one player leads by two points. In a tennis game, the score of the server is always given first, such as "30-love."
Players play a "set" of games. The winner of the set must win six games, and they must lead by at least two games. If a set is tied at 5-5, at least 7 game wins are required to win the set. Matches are usually the best two out of three or best three out of five sets.
Most tournaments employ officials to referee the games. The chair umpire is the head official, and he may preside over a number of line judges who determine the viability of shots and serves. There may also be a net-cord judge to determine if a ball has touched the net, and a foot-fault judge who watched for bodily infractions of boundaries.
Forehand and backhand are the most common strokes used in tennis. The forehand stroke is achieved by the player pivoting the body so the non-racket arm faces the net, and then swings the racket to meet the ball. The backhand stroke consists of the player bringing the racket forward across the body to meet the ball. The lob is a high soft return which flies over the head of the opponent. The overhead smash can be employed to return a lob. Is it similar to the spike in volleyball. Drop shots are lightly hit spinning returns. A volley is when the player strikes the ball before it bounces, and a half volley is a low return of the ball after it has bounced.
The first professional tennis game was played in 1926. Charles C. Pyle was an American promoter who organized the paid traveling tour. Professional players were barred from these tournaments, but by 1968 most tournaments were open to professional as well as amateur players.
"Grand-slam" tournaments include the Australian Open in Melbourne, the French Open in Paris, Wimbledon in London, and the US Open in New York City. Winning all four major grand slam tournaments in one year is the most coveted achievement in tennis.
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