A Must-Read Guide About Tennis Scoring System, Rules & Guidelines

tennis scoring system

The scoring system in tennis is based on a system of points, games, and sets. A point is scored when a player is able to hit the ball in such a way that the opponent is unable to return it, or if the opponent hits the ball out of bounds. A game is won by the player who is able to score four points and win by a margin of at least two points.

A set is won by the player who is able to win a predetermined number of games. If both players win the same number of games in a set, a tiebreak is played to determine the winner. In a tiebreak, the player who is able to score seven points and win by a margin of at least two points is declared the winner.

The winner of a match is the player who is able to win the most sets. In most professional tournaments, the player who wins the best-of-three sets match is declared the winner. However, in some tournaments, such as the Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open), the best-of-five sets format is used.

Overall, the scoring system in tennis is based on a combination of points, games, and sets, with the ultimate goal being to win the most points, games, and sets in order to emerge victorious.

In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about the tennis scoring system, and you will be proficient in just a few minutes.

So let’s get going.

The Origin of Tennis Scoring System

To write down the origin of the tennis scoring system is quite difficult as the antecedents of the game itself.

There is no confirmation or definitive reply about the origination of the tennis scoring system as per the current practice i.e. 0,15,30 and 45. But there are some different theories:

A theory was also introduced at the start of the play when there is no point in the score is ‘love’ taken from the French word l’oeuf, which means egg and egg have a complete shape of zero. It was also spread that love is the result of mispronunciation in English of the word “love”.

It is also a theory that ‘love’ in tennis was taken in the more literal sense as players in the tennis ground have love for the game at the start of the score which is zero.  Or perhaps players have love for each other when the score is zero to zero.

The original system for counting tennis scores was to place hands on clock faces every 15, 30 and 45 minutes. To account for advantage, the 45-minute mark was dialed back to 40, and the game ended at 60. Minute hands were added to clocks after the 17th century.

Played similar to tennis with a hand instead of a racket, jeu de paume is attached to the numerical values of the scoring system. The serving player could move up to 15 feet per point scored, up to 45 feet. The court was 90 feet long.

as mentioned above, the tennis match consists of points, games, and sets. A set consists of a minimum of six games, each of which has points. The first team to win six games with a margin of at least two games over the other side wins the set (e.g. 6–3 or 7–5).

The Structure Of Tennis Scoring System

The play of tennis is divided into three phases: A game, a set and a match. 

game is played until a player scores four points and player can earn in a number of different ways.

set is the collection of games and remains in progress until a player wins minimum six games. 

match is played to a best-of-three or five sets. Normally, championship matches are played to five sets.

This can be further elaborated in following table:

Player NameSet 1Set 2Set 3

The above table shows that Jhon is the match winner having score of 6-4, 5-7 when Peter won the second set by two games.

Point System in Tennis Scoring

Tennis has the following point system which is needed to understand before we move forward:

  • 0 points= Love
  • 1 point = 15
  • 2 points= 30
  • 3 points= 40
  • Tied score= All
  • 40-40 = Deuce
  • Server wins deuce point = Ad-In
  • Receiver wins deuce point = Ad-Out

Scoring A Game

A game is won when a player scores four (or more) points: 15, 30, 40 and the game-winning point.

If both the players make it 40, then the score is called “deuce.” After deuce, a player must win two consecutive points: the first point, known as “advantage” and the game-winning point. If the opposite player succeeds to score the next point, the game once again returns back to deuce.

Scoring A Set

A player must win at least six games to win a set. A player must also win by two games in order to win the set. So if a game is played to a 6-5 score in the set, then the leading player must win a seventh game in order to win the set.

Type of Sets

There are two main ways of scoring a set.

Advantage Set

In an advantage set, a player or team has to win six games, by two, to win the set. This means that there is no tiebreak game played at 6-6. The set continues until one player/team wins by two games.

Tiebreak Set

In a tiebreak set, a player or team needs to win six games to win a set. If the score gets to 5-5 (5-all), one player must win the next two games to win the set. If the score reaches 6-6 (6-all) in the set, a tiebreak game is played.

Scoring A Match

The structure of a tennis match is designed with an odd number of sets to ensure a winner emerges at the end of the match. Typically, tennis competitors play the best 2 out of 3 sets to determine a winner of a match. The potential outcome could end up in a final score of 2-0 or 2-1 for the winner of a match.


A duce happens when the score reached at 40-40. Since there is no concept tie in tennis game and one has to win/ lose the game. A player/team must win 2 consecutive points in order to take the game. If a player wins one point, they have advantage, but if they lose the next point, the score returns to deuce.


The tiebreak was introduced in 1965 in order to prevent tennis matches that were simply too long for both the players and spectators.

If the score reaches 6-6, a tiebreak will be played to determine the winner of the set. Tennis tiebreakers keep match lengths within a reasonable range and prevent matches from becoming too long.

Tennis Scoring Rules

There are different methods for scoring/earning points. Some are:

  • An unreturnable ball (ball bounces twice); 
  • Players/teams cannot carry the ball or catch it with the racquet.
  • Players cannot hit the ball twice.
  • If the ball hit outside of bounds, the results would be in the loss of the point earned.
  • Ball hit into the net.
  • There is a penalty for racquets that leave the hand or verbal abuse.
  • If the ball hit outside of bounds, the results would be in the loss of the point earned.
  • Players/teams cannot touch the net or posts or cross onto the opponent’s side.
  • Players must wait until the ball passes the net before they can return it.
  • A player that does not return a live ball before it bounces twice loses the point.
  • In case the ball hits or touches any of the players, there will be a penalty.
  • Good bouncing balls are those that reach the boundary lines.
  • A serve must bounce first before the receiving player can return it.

The Tennis Scoreboard

A standard scoreboard for a three-set match could appear like this:

 Set 1Set 2Set 3
Player A66(5)6
Player B47(7)1
  • This would mean Player A won the first set 6 games to 4.
  • Player B won the second set on a tie-break taking it 7 games to 6 (by winning 7 points to 5 in the actual tie-break).
  • Player A won the third set 6 games to 1.
  • Player A won the match by 2 sets to 1.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the scoring system in tennis is an integral part of the game, determining the winner of a match through a combination of points, games, and sets. The basic principle is simple: the player who is able to score more points, win more games, and take the most sets is declared the winner.

However, the details of the scoring system, such as the use of tiebreaks and the different formats used in different tournaments, can make the game more complex and exciting for players and spectators alike.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, understanding the scoring system in tennis is crucial to your success on the court.

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