The Ins and Outs of Tennis


Tennis balls at the Eccles Tennis Center. (Chronicle archives)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


Tennis has been at the University of Utah since 1910. The men’s tennis team has won 24 conference titles throughout its history and remains a fixture in University athletics.

The women’s tennis program plays in the toughest conference in the United States for women’s tennis. A Pac-12 team has won the national title 23 times since 1982. The team has consistently been ranked in the top 50 since the early 2000s.

With tennis playing such a prominent role in university sports, this article is set to provide you, the reader, a basic understanding of the game of tennis, despite the season being canceled this year. Broken down into three sections, the basics such as scoring and rules, the history of not only Utah tennis, but of the sport’s greatest players, and finally, through the context of the current best players in tennis. Welcome to Tennis 101.

The Basics

Scoring: The number one thing that turns people off to tennis is the scoring. Once it is explained though it is actually pretty simple. The general idea is this: to win a game, you must win two sets. Each set must be won with six matches with a lead of at least two. In order to win a match, you need to win four points. It is broken-down numerically as follows.


  • 0-Love
  • 1-15
  • 2- 30
  • 3-40
  • 4-Match point and you win the game. HOWEVER: if a match is 40-40 it is called Deuce and the player must score two consecutive points to win.

6 match wins=1 set win. Again, you can’t win 6-5 though. You must win by two matches, so you would have to win 7-5. Once you win two sets, you win the match. The same scoring type goes for doubles. Here’s a video for more info on scoring.

You score points by getting the ball to bounce once in the opponent’s court and then cross the baseline or the service line. If a player hits the ball into the net while the ball is in play, that’s a point for the opposite player as well. However, if the server serves and hits the ball into the net, that is not a point for the opposition, it is a fault. You get one redo, basically. If, after one fault, you serve into the net again; it is a point for the opposition.

A Brief History of Tennis

Brief Wikipedia research will inform you that tennis was first played and developed in France in about the 12th century. The first professional tennis tour took place in 1926. American Vinnie Richards was one of tennis’s first stars.

Tennis plays four major events: Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open. Focusing on the U.S. Open, the tournament is held at the USTA national tennis center in Florida. In the “Open Era” (after the year 1968) Americans Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras along with Swiss national Rodger Federer hold five titles each in singles.

Meanwhile, in the women’s game, American tennis legends, Serena Williams and Chris Evert hold six U.S. Open Titles, the most in the history of the event.

The Game Today

The top of the women’s game today is dominated by Ashleigh Barty, who is currently ranked number one in the world. She, at age 24, has already won the French Open back in 2019. The highest ranking American on the Women’s Tennis Associations list is 21-year-old Sofia Kenin. She has won the Australian Open already. Remaining in the top ten narrowly is tennis legend, Serena Williams. Williams has won 23 majors (grand slam titles) during her career, making her one of the best tennis players of all time.

In the men’s game, two names reign supreme right now. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic has won 17 grand slam titles in his career thus far. Nadal has 19 grand slam titles. These two currently vie for the title of greatest of all time. Not to be forgotten though is Rodger Federer, who has won 20 grand slam titles in his career.

The U.S. Open is currently being played and can be found on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.

While there might be no tennis matches on some university campuses this fall, it is never too late to watch a few games of the pros and come back next year ready to root for the Utes.


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