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How to Read Tennis Scores

How to Read Tennis Scores: A Comprehensive Guide

Tennis, with its rich history and global appeal, has a unique scoring system. For beginners and even some intermediate fans, deciphering tennis scores can sometimes seem like decoding a foreign language. This guide will walk you through the basics of reading tennis scores and understanding match progress.

Summary of Reading Tennis Scores

  • Point System: Basics of scoring in tennis.
  • Games and Sets: Progression from points to sets.
  • Advantage Scoring: What happens in a deuce situation.
  • Match Progression: How players move towards victory.

1. Point System

Score CallPoints

Tennis doesn’t use a straightforward 1, 2, 3 point counting system. Instead, the first point won is called “fifteen,” the second “thirty,” and the third is “forty.”

2. Games and Sets

To win a game, a player must score four points and be two points ahead. A set is a collection of games, and players must win six games (and be two games ahead) to win a set.

Number of Games WonSet Score

3. Advantage Scoring

When both players reach a score of forty (three points each), it’s termed as ‘deuce’. The next player to win a point gets an “advantage”. If the same player wins the next point, they win the game. If not, the score returns to deuce.

4. Match Progression

Tennis matches are usually played as the best of three (for women’s singles) or best of five sets (for men’s singles in Grand Slams). The player or pair first to win the majority of sets is the match winner.

Notable Quote

“I just try to play tennis and don’t find excuses. You know, I just lost because I lost, not because my arm was sore.”Goran Ivanišević 1


Q: What does ‘Love’ mean in tennis? A: ‘Love’ in tennis denotes a score of zero. If a player hasn’t won any points in a game, their score is referred to as ‘Love’.

Q: Why does tennis use such a unique scoring system? A: The origins of the scoring system are debated, but it’s believed to have historical roots, potentially related to the use of a clock face to keep score.

In Conclusion

Understanding tennis scores is essential for anyone looking to fully enjoy watching or playing the sport. While it might seem confusing initially, with a little attention, the system becomes second nature.

Further Reading

Understanding Tennis Scores – Wikipedia


  1. Goran Ivanišević Quotes

-By Scott Jones