The tiebreaker – more recently shortened to just "tiebreak", though both terms are still used interchangeably – was invented by James Van Alen and unveiled in 1965 as an experiment at the pro tournament he sponsored at Newport Casino, Rhode Island,[23] after an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to speed up the game by the use of his so-called "Van Alen Streamlined Scoring System" ("VASSS"). For two years before the Open Era, in 1955 and 1956, the United States Pro Championship in Cleveland, Ohio, was played by VASSS rules. The scoring was the same as that in table tennis, with sets played to 21 points and players alternating five services, with no second service. The rules were created partially to limit the effectiveness of the powerful service of the reigning professional champion, Pancho Gonzales. Even with the new rules, however, Gonzales beat Pancho Segura in the finals of both tournaments. Even though the 1955 match went to 5 sets, with Gonzales barely holding on to win the last one 21–19, it is reported to have taken 47 minutes to complete.[24] The fans attending the matches preferred the traditional rules, however, and in 1957 the tournament reverted to the old method of scoring.
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Regardless of the number of games and sets in a match, players must continuously rotate sides when the total number of games in a set is an odd number. For instance, if the total game score in a set is 3-2, simply add 3 + 2 = 5. Since 5 is an odd number, the players rotate sides prior to starting the next game. If the total game score in a set is 5-1, simply add 5 + 1 = 6. Since 6 is an even number, the players do not rotate sides.
Your swing style is another important factor to consider when shopping for tennis racquets. If you have a fast and long swing, you are likely able to provide all the power you need and may want to consider a racquet with a mid or mid-plus head, which can help you control your shot. If you have a shorter and slower swing, an oversized racquet head may be a better choice as it can increase the power of your shot.
We’ve now covered scoring, the first step to learn as a tennis beginner — let’s move on to understanding the court. A tennis court is 78 feet long by 27 feet wide, and divided in half length-wise by the net. At each end of the court, there are white baselines — here, the serves are taken. These are also the out-of-bounds lines — a ball must not bounce beyond them or it’s out and the player who hit the ball loses a point.

Two hands give the player more control, while one hand can generate a slice shot, applying backspin on the ball to produce a low trajectory bounce. Reach is also limited with the two-handed shot. The player long considered to have had the best backhand of all time, Don Budge, had a powerful one-handed stroke in the 1930s and 1940s that imparted topspin onto the ball. Ken Rosewall, another player noted for his one-handed backhand, used a very accurate slice backhand through the 1950s and 1960s. A small number of players, notably Monica Seles, use two hands on both the backhand and forehand sides.


The first thing to consider when looking at tennis racquets is the frame. You have many options when it comes to size, shape, material, and so on. A racquet with a larger head will help you make more powerful swings, whereas a smaller head affords you more control. Can’t decide? A mid-sized head offers a little of both! For length, a longer racquet can offer better leverage per swing for more power, but a traditional-length racquet provides a better balance of power and control. When considering the weight of a racquet, remember that heavier tennis racquets offer more power and less control while lighter racquets yield more control at the expense of power. The shape of your racquet determines where the sweet spot is: Traditional oval racquets have a sweet spot at the bottom, and a teardrop racquet features a larger sweet spot overall.
To begin to learn to play tennis, you need to understand its unusual scoring method. As a tennis beginner, you must understand how to keep score. Scoring doesn’t start with 1 or 0 — it starts with the term “love”, equivalent to zero. The first point is then 15 followed by the next point, 30, and the next point, 40. The following point is the winning point and it’s called game point or set point or match point — depending on which you are playing.
Most large tournaments seed players, but players may also be matched by their skill level. According to how well a person does in sanctioned play, a player is given a rating that is adjusted periodically to maintain competitive matches. For example, the United States Tennis Association administers the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP), which rates players between 1.0 and 7.0 in 1/2 point increments. Average club players under this system would rate 3.0–4.5 while world class players would be 7.0 on this scale.

From 'No advantage'. Scoring method created by Jimmy Van Alen. The first player or doubles team to win four points wins the game, regardless of whether the player or team is ahead by two points. When the game score reaches three points each, the receiver chooses which side of the court (advantage court or deuce court) the service is to be delivered on the seventh and game-deciding point. Utilized by World Team Tennis professional competition, ATP tours, WTA tours, ITF Pro Doubles and ITF Junior Doubles.[57][58]
For a right-handed player, the forehand is a stroke that begins on the right side of the body, continues across the body as contact is made with the ball, and ends on the left side of the body. There are various grips for executing the forehand, and their popularity has fluctuated over the years. The most important ones are the continental, the eastern, the semi-western, and the western. For a number of years, the small, frail 1920s player Bill Johnston was considered by many to have had the best forehand of all time, a stroke that he hit shoulder-high using a western grip. Few top players used the western grip after the 1920s, but in the latter part of the 20th century, as shot-making techniques and equipment changed radically, the western forehand made a strong comeback and is now used by many modern players. No matter which grip is used, most forehands are generally executed with one hand holding the racket, but there have been fine players with two-handed forehands. In the 1940s and 50s, the Ecuadorian/American player Pancho Segura used a two-handed forehand to achieve a devastating effect against larger, more powerful players. Players such as Monica Seles or France's Fabrice Santoro and Marion Bartoli are also notable players known for their two-handed forehands.[76]
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In Tennis: A Cultural History, Heiner Gillmeister reveals that on December 8, 1874, British army officer Walter Clopton Wingfield wrote to Harry Gem, commenting that he (Wingfield) had been experimenting with his version of lawn tennis “for a year and a half”.[13] In December 1873, Wingfield designed and patented a game which he called sphairistikè (Greek: σφαιριστική, meaning "ball-playing"), and was soon known simply as "sticky" – for the amusement of guests at a garden party on his friend's estate of Nantclwyd Hall, in Llanelidan, Wales.[14] According to R. D. C. Evans, turfgrass agronomist, "Sports historians all agree that [Wingfield] deserves much of the credit for the development of modern tennis."[8][15] According to Honor Godfrey, museum curator at Wimbledon, Wingfield "popularized this game enormously. He produced a boxed set which included a net, poles, rackets, balls for playing the game – and most importantly you had his rules. He was absolutely terrific at marketing and he sent his game all over the world. He had very good connections with the clergy, the law profession, and the aristocracy and he sent thousands of sets out in the first year or so, in 1874."[16] The world's oldest annual tennis tournament took place at Leamington Lawn Tennis Club in Birmingham in 1874.[17] This was three years before the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club would hold its first championships at Wimbledon, in 1877. The first Championships culminated a significant debate on how to standardize the rules.[16]
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