The tennis scoring system can seem overly complicated when you’re first starting out. There’s Love, Deuce, Ad In and Ad Out. And what on earth does No Ad mean?
The good news, it’s really not so bad. You just have to learn the language. The concepts behind the tennis scoring rules are very simple.
The General Tennis Scoring System Framework
A player accumulates:
Points to win a Game….
Games to win a Set…
And Sets to win a Match.
In tennis, there are two basic scoring systems. There is the No-Ad system, which is basically a simplified version of the regular scoring system. In either system, the general framework is identical. They really only differ in one major way.
Winning Points to Win a Game
Basically, a player must win 4 points to win a game. However, it is here that the only difference between Regular and No-Ad scoring occurs.
In No-Ad scoring, 4 points equals 1 Game. That’s it.
To play with regular scoring, you must use a different sort of language:
1 point = 15
2 points = 30
3 points = 40
4 points = GAME
Here is the big difference between the two scoring systems and where most people get confused… If the score in any Game is tied at 40 – 40 (Deuce), that Game is considered to be at a stalemate. At that point (Deuce) a player must win 2 points consecutively to win that Game.
If the person serving wins the Deuce point, the score is called Ad-In because the server has the advantage in that Game. If the server wins the the next point, he/she wins that Game. If the server loses the next point, the score goes Back to Deuce.
If the returner wins the Deuce point, the score is called Ad-Out because the returner has the advantage in that Game. If the returner wins the next point, he/she wins that Game. If the returner loses the next point, the score goes Back to Deuce again.
You can see how if two players are very closely live score\ matched, this could take awhile. That’s why tennis has no time limit. A match is played as long as it takes for it to be completed.
Winning Games to Win a Set
In tennis scoring, when a player accumulates 6 games he/ she has won the Set. At this point a new set is started, unless of course that was the winning set of the match.
The only exception to this rule is that the player must be winning by at least 2 games. Therefore…
6 – 0 means the set is over…
6 – 1 means the set is over…
6 – 2 means the set is over…
6 – 3 means the set is over…
6 – 4 means the set is over…
6 – 5 means the set is NOT over…
– One more game must be played. If the score advances to 7 – 5, then the set is over…
– If the score goes to 6 – 6, then a Tiebreaker is played. (That’s another lesson!)
Winning Sets to Win a Match
All sets are created equal, so there are no special rules in this part of the tennis scoring system.
There are “best out of 3 set matches” and “best out of 5 set match”
In best of 3 set matches, the first player to win 2 sets wins the match. This is the most typical scoring format in tennis.
In best of 5 set matches, the first player to win 3 sets wins the match. These usually take much longer and involve a much higher level of concentration and fitness. That’s why this format is usually reserved for the biggest tournaments.