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Tennis Rules Guide: Understanding the Rules of Tennis

To those unfamiliar with the game, particularly in the realm of betting, tennis can seem quite confusing and hard to keep track of. With serves and outs and scores like 30-love, not to mention the seeming drag-on nature of games and sets, the rules of tennis are something that even fans need a lot of time to grasp completely. What seems complicated, however, does break down into something simple, so understanding the rules of tennis isn't a difficult task. And if you're thinking about gambling on tennis, please take the time to learn the rules and the various ins and outs of the game to put you in a better position to profit. For those new to betting on tennis, we recommend that you also visit our pages on how to bet on tennis and understanding tennis betting odds before you really dive in.

The Basic Rules of Tennis

As for the actual rules of the game, it's all quite simple once it's spelled out. A singles match, for instance, starts with two players facing off on opposite ends of a regulation court, either hard, grass or clay. One player serves the ball into a designated area of the court, which is boxed in via those white rectangular lines on the court. The court itself is divided exactly in half via a net that stands three feet tall. Once served, the opposite player must return the ball over the net and into legal play. If the player cannot, then the player serving is credited with an ace. If the server hits the ball out of the designated zone, he or she has three more attempts to serve properly before a point is awarded to the other player and the serve changes.

Once a ball is returned in play, the object is for the defending player to return the ball back over the net before it bounces twice. This is why some of the best tennis plays in history involve those very soft drop shots that bounce instantly, rather than those laser cannon shots. It's a game of skill and strategy, and the goal is to place the tennis ball on a part of the court where the defending player cannot reach it before it bounces twice, or before it bounces once in play and then evades the defender's swing.

When a player cannot return the ball, or when a player does return the ball but does so out of play, a point is rewarded to the opposite player. It takes four separate points to win a game, and a player must win multiple games in order to win a set. Then they must win multiple sets to win the match. This is why tennis matches played between two people can sometimes last longer than football or baseball games played by an entire team. But overall, the premise is very simple. Each player is attempting to locate the ball on the defender's side of the court in a location that makes it difficult for the ball to be returned. The ball must be hit over the net in a diagonal each time. And when it comes to hitting the ball out of bounds, there are different line officials who lord over the perimeter to call each ball in bounds or out of bounds.

The Court and Equipment

Along with the rules of fair play in tennis, players must also adhere to rules regarding the court and equipment. For instance, a regulation court for tournament play is 27 feet wide by 78 feet long. For a doubles match, the court is extended out to 36 feet wide. There are three main white boxes on either side of the net, two squares and a rectangle. All balls must be hit into play inside of one of those boxes, and in the diagonal box adjacent the server during serves.

The tennis ball must also be a regulation ball, provided by tournament officials, and there can only be 2, 3, 4 or 6 balls in play. These balls are picked up by runners in between serves and are recycled throughout the game. In terms of racquets, the regulation racquet is usually 12.5 inches wide while being 29 inches long.