Tennis Vocabulary

reviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process
Welcome to your language journey!
  • - 01

    Learn through the article!

  • - 02

    Pass a language test

  • - 03

    Check the results

  • - 04

    Subscribe to reach fluency!

girl point on notes

This guide will provide a comprehensive list of tennis vocabulary. As we reveal the language of tennis, you'll discover a treasure trove of words and phrases that will not only ignite your passion for the game but also make you a confident English speaker.  
Tennis Vocabulary

Tennis Vocabulary for Scoring

Understanding the scoring system is crucial to fully enjoying and participating in a game of tennis.

  • Advantage: A situation that occurs when a player wins the next point after a deuce, allowing them to win the game.
  • Break: When the receiving player wins a game against the serving player.
  • Deuce: A tied score of 40-40, requiring one player to win two consecutive points to secure the game.
  • Love: A term for zero points in a game. For example, "Love-15" means the serving player has zero points, and the opponent has 15 points.
  • Match Point: The point that, if won by a player, would secure victory in the match.
  • Set Point: The point that, if won by a player, would secure victory in the set.
  • Game Point: The point that, if won by a player, would secure victory in the game.
  • Service Break: When the receiving player wins a game against the serving player.

Mastering the intricacies of tennis scoring will allow you to navigate the game with confidence and strategize effectively.

Names of Tennis Shots

Exploring different tennis shots will expand your repertoire and enable you to respond to various game situations.

  • Forehand: A shot hit with the dominant hand on the same side of the body as the hand holding the racket.
  • Backhand: A shot hit with the non-dominant hand on the opposite side of the body from the hand holding the racket.
  • Volley: A shot hit before the ball bounces on the court.
  • Slice: A shot that imparts a backspin on the ball, causing it to curve downward.
  • Drop Shot: A shot hit softly and close to the net, intended to fall just over the net and make it difficult for the opponent to reach.
  • Lob: A high, arcing shot hit over the opponent's head, usually from a defensive position.
  • Overhead Smash: A powerful shot hit from above the player's head, usually in response to a lob.
  • Approach Shot: A shot hit to move toward the net and follow it up with a volley.
  • Half Volley: A shot where the ball is hit immediately after it bounces off the court, usually played very close to the ground.
  • Drive: A powerful shot hit with full force and minimal spin.

You can adapt your gameplay, keep opponents off balance, and elevate your overall performance by mastering a wide range of tennis shots.

Definitions of Tactics and Strategy

Developing a solid understanding of tennis tactics and strategy is key to outsmarting opponents and gaining a competitive edge.

  • Serve and Volley: A strategy where the server rushes to the net to hit a volley after serving.
  • Drop Shot Strategy: A tactical approach that involves frequently hitting drop shots to keep the opponent off balance.
  • Inside Out: A shot hit to the opposite side of the court from which the player is positioned, often used to create angles and open up the court.
  • Counterpuncher: A player who relies on retrieving and returning shots accurately rather than relying on powerful shots.
  • Chip and Charge: A strategy where the return shot is intentionally hit with less power, allowing the player to move forward and approach the net quickly.
  • All-court Player: A player who has a versatile game and is comfortable playing from all areas of the court.
  • Defensive Play: A strategy focused on retrieving shots and prolonging rallies, often used to wear down opponents.
  • Offensive Play: A strategy aimed at taking control of points and putting pressure on opponents with aggressive shots.
  • Serve Placement: Deliberately targeting specific areas of the opponent's service box to exploit weaknesses or create opportunities.

Applying effective tactics and strategies on the court will elevate your game and help you make strategic decisions that lead to victory.


List of Tournaments Names

Tennis tournaments offer thrilling competitions and showcase the world's best players, making them a highlight of the tennis calendar.

  • Grand Slam: The four most prestigious tennis tournaments of the year: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.
  • Davis Cup: An international team competition for men's tennis, played annually.
  • Fed Cup: An international team competition for women's tennis, played annually.
  • ATP Tour: The Association of Tennis Professionals Tour, consisting of various tournaments for male professional players.
  • WTA Tour: The Women's Tennis Association Tour comprises a series of tournaments for female professional players.
  • Masters 1000: A series of nine tournaments for male players, considered just below the Grand Slam events in prestige.
  • Premier Mandatory: A series of four tournaments for female players, also highly regarded in the tennis calendar.
  • Challenger: Professional tournaments that provide an opportunity for up-and-coming players to earn ranking points.
  • Futures: Entry-level professional tournaments where players can earn ranking points and gain experience.
  • Exhibition Match: A non-competitive match often played to entertain or showcase players' skills.

Participating in or spectating tennis tournaments provides an unforgettable experience and an opportunity to witness remarkable athletic achievements.

Court Terms

Familiarizing yourself with essential court terms will help you navigate the tennis court with confidence and precision.

  • Baseline: The boundary line at the far end of the court, parallel to the net.
  • Service Box: The rectangular area on each side of the net where serves must land to be considered in play.
  • Net: The barrier that divides the court into two halves.
  • Singles Sideline: The boundary line on each side of the court for singles matches.
  • Doubles Alley: The additional area on each side of the court used in doubles matches.
  • Center Mark: The midpoint on the baseline that divides the court into two halves.
  • Service Line: The line parallel to the net that marks the boundary for serves.
  • T: The intersection of the service line and the center mark, used as a reference point for serving.
  • Ad Court: The left side of the court near the net, named after the advantage point in deuce games.
  • Deuce Court: The right side of the court near the net, named after the deuce point in games.

Understanding court terms enables effective communication with fellow players, coaches, and officials, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable tennis experience.

Game Terms

Expanding your knowledge of game terms is essential for understanding the flow of a match and communicating effectively on the court.

  • Rally: A sequence of shots exchanged between players during a point.
  • Set: A unit of scoring in a match consisting of games won.
  • Game: A unit of scoring within a set, consisting of points won.
  • Tiebreak: A special game played to determine the winner of a set that has reached a certain score.
  • Love Game: A game won by the serving player without conceding a point to the opponent.
  • Let: When a served ball touches the net but lands in the correct service box, resulting in a replay of the point.
  • Foot Fault: When the server's foot touches or crosses the baseline before making contact with the ball.
  • Unforced Error: An error made by a player that was not caused by the opponent's shot.
  • Forced Error: An error made by a player due to the opponent's shot or pressure.

Mastery of game terms allows for clear communication, precise analysis, and enhanced enjoyment of tennis.

Tennis Words and Phrases That Describe Equipment

Knowing the essential tennis player's equipment will ensure you are properly equipped and ready to perform at your best on the court.

  • Racket: The primary equipment used by tennis players to hit the ball. It consists of a handle and a head with strings stretched across it.
  • Tennis Balls: The spherical balls are specifically designed for playing tennis. They are made of rubber covered with a felt-like fabric.
  • Grip: The material wrapped around the handle of the racket to provide a secure and comfortable hold.
  • Tennis Shoes: Footwear specifically designed for tennis, providing stability, support, and traction on the court.
  • Dampener: A small accessory inserted into the racket's strings to reduce vibrations and improve the feel.
  • Tennis Bag: A bag used to carry tennis equipment, including rackets, balls, towels, and other accessories.
  • Overgrip: An additional layer of grip applied on top of the original grip to enhance comfort and absorb moisture.
  • Tennis Clothing: Specialized apparel designed for tennis, including shirts, shorts/skirts, and socks, typically made of breathable and moisture-wicking materials.
  • Wristbands: Bands worn on the wrist to absorb sweat and keep the hands dry during play.

The right choice and proper use of tennis players' equipment are vital for comfort, performance, and injury prevention during play.

Popular Idioms Related to Tennis

Discovering popular idioms related to tennis adds depth and color to your understanding of the sport's cultural significance.

  • "Ace in the Hole": Refers to having a secret advantage or strategy that can guarantee success.
  • "Game, Set, Match": Indicates a decisive victory or conclusion.
  • "No Man's Land": Refers to the middle area of the court, where players are vulnerable and often find it challenging to execute shots effectively.
  • "Serve up a Double Fault" describes a mistake or failure that is especially embarrassing or costly.
  • "Break Point": A crucial moment in a match where the receiving player has the opportunity to win the game on the opponent's serve.
  • "On the Ropes": Describes a player who is struggling or in a difficult situation during a match.
  • "Tennis Elbow": A common term used to describe the inflammation or injury of the tendons in the elbow caused by repetitive motion.

Incorporating popular tennis idioms into your language enriches communication and demonstrates your passion and knowledge of the game.


Understanding and using tennis terminology will enhance your overall experience as a player or spectator, allowing you to communicate effectively and appreciate the intricacies of the game. 

Make your next step to fluency with Promova

Tennis Vocabulary Quiz
Get a review of your skills & track your progress as you improve!
10 min
10 questions
Take test
Try Promova
Learn English with a handy app full of awesome lessons!
Vocabulary of Cricket SportBoxing, Gymnastics, Squash, Hockey, and Swimming VocabularyEnglish Sports Idioms and Vocabulary ListFootball VocabularyBasketball VocabularyBaseball English VocabularyRugby VocabularyGolf VocabularyOlympics Words and DefinitionsFootball World Cup VocabularyBoxing Words for Language LearnersSwimming Styles And EquipmentOutdoor Activities List


Luciana PotterFeb 15th, 2024
I feel more confident in my language abilities after reading this article!
PromovaOct 24th, 2023
Absolutely! A tennis court is divided into several areas, including two alleys (narrow strips on either side), the baseline (the farthest back boundary), and the net. The alleys are used in doubles matches, where the ball must land to be considered in play. The baseline is where players serve from, and it's essential for determining the court's dimensions.
Sarah KnightOct 24th, 2023
Tennis seems to have unique terms like 'alley' and 'baseline.' Can you describe the court's layout and the significance of these terms?