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Tennis Scoring System - How it Works

Most people have the same reaction the first time they sit down to watch a game of tennis: "Huh!?" So, you see a player shoot a serve that bolts past the player, and you may start thinking to yourself, "Wow. There's a point. Score one for that serve!" But all that happens is the score changes from 15-love to 30-love. What the heck is going on in tennis? When a guy kicks the ball past the goalie in soccer, it's a point. When the ball goes through the net in basketball, points are awarded. When the ball breaks the plane in football, it's a touchdown. But when one scores in tennis, they actually have to score a few times in order to earn a single point, and then repeat that process a bunch before they score enough to win a game. It's no wonder that the games last for multiple hours.

It's okay, though; understanding the scoring system in tennis seems a bit self-explanatory once it's broken down properly. And if you decide to signup with one of our recommended legal tennis betting sites, this will come second nature to you.

How Scoring in Tennis Operates - Points, Games and Sets

To really put this into layman's terms so everyone can understand it, let's look at tennis scoring as 0-0. Or, as it's called in tennis, love-love. Let's say John Doe and Joe Smith are playing one another again, and the score is love-love in the first set of the match. Now, let's say it's John's serve and he bolts one by that Joe can't return. This is an ace, and it scores for John. Only instead of a point, it builds up to that point. It starts out by giving John 15, while Joe still has love. Next serve, let's say Joe hits it back and it bounces twice before John gets to it. Now it's tied 15-15. Technically, each player has a point. Each 15-point increment counts as a single point, and a player must score four points to win a game, which illustrates itself as a single point in the column.

So, for instance, if Joe hits three more by John, his score will go from 15-15 to 30-15, then to 40-15, and then to 1-0, meaning that Joe has earned four points and has been awarded a game. Even if both players are 40-40, with three points a piece, the next one to win a point actually wins the game. You don't have to win a game by two points, like you must win a match by two games. That's a different story entirely.

So, let's say we're back at John and Joe's game, and it's been pretty even. In the first set, the two men are tied 5 games a piece. Joe breaks out and wins six games to John's five, but you have to win each set by two games, so it's not over until the score is 7-5, 8-6, 10-8, etc.

For the number of sets, it usually depends on the setting but will be either the best of three sets (2 of 3) or the best of five sets (3 of 5). Every set goes until a player wins six individual games, but cannot conclude until the player has won by at least two games. Again, these reasons compile to really make tennis last a long time. Not only can a match extend for five sets, but if it's a very close game, wherein the score is only within a single point, it will drag on and on until someone wins a match by two games.

However, one of the reasons that tennis doesn't go on for nine hours every match is that the tie break point was inserted a few decades ago. Let's say that John comes back on Joe and ties things up 6-6 in the forth set. To avoid a game that will drag out all night, the next person to win a game in the tie break system actually wins the set. So, in this instance, it will finish 7-6. But in every instance outside of a 6-6 situation, the player must win by two games.

One of the longest games on record was the match between Mahut and Isner at 2010 Wimbledon. The entire match went on for over 11 hours, and the final set alone lasted 8 hours and was spread out over three days. The final set was 70-68!

As you can see, however, the scoring system is easy enough to understand in tennis. It's all about making points, and scoring four points to win a game. Then you must win at least six games to take a set, and you must take either two of three or three of five sets to win a match.