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Tennis: Glossary and Terms

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  • Ace - a serve that is a winner without the receiving tennis player able to return the ball.
  • Ad court - the part of the tennis court that is to the left of the tennis players
  • Advantage - when a tennis player needs one more point to win the game after the score was deuce.
  • Alley - the extra area of the side court used for doubles.
  • ATP - stand for the Association of Tennis Professionals
  • Backhand - a way to swing the tennis racquet where the player hits the ball with a swing that comes across the body.
  • Backspin - spin of a tennis ball that causes the ball to slow down and/or bounce low.
  • Backswing - the motion of a swing that moves the racquet into position to swing forward and strike the ball.
  • Baseline - the line indicating back of the court.
  • Baseliner - a tennis player whose strategy is to play from the baseline. See Tennis Strategies for more.
  • Break - when the server loses the game
  • Break point - one point away from breaking serve
  • Chip - blocking a shot with backspin
  • Chip and charge - an aggressive strategy to return the opponent's serve with backspin and move forward to the net for a volley
  • Chop - a tennis shot with extreme backspin. Meant to stop the ball where it lands.
  • Counterpuncher - another name for a player who is a defensive baseliner.
  • Court - the area where a tennis game is played
  • Crosscourt - hitting the tennis ball diagonally into the opponent's court
  • Deep - refers to a shot that bounces near the baseline verses near the net
  • Deuce - when the score in a game is 40 to 40.
  • Deuce court - the right side of the court
  • Double Fault - two missed serves in a row. The server will lose the point.
  • Doubles - a tennis game played by four players, two per side of the court.
  • Down the line - hitting a tennis shot straight down the baseline
  • Drop shot - a strategy where the tennis player hits the ball just go over the net. It is used when the opponent is far from the net.
  • Drop volley - a drop shot from a volley
  • Fault - a service that is not in play.
  • First Service - the first of the two serves of a tennis ball a player is allowed. Generally the server will try a more difficult serve on the first service.
  • Flat - a shot with little to no spin
  • Follow through - the part of the swing after the ball is hit. A good follow through is important for accuracy and power.
  • Foot fault - when the server steps over the baseline while making a serve.
  • Forehand - a tennis swing where the player hits the tennis ball from behind their body. Often the forehand is the players best stroke.
  • Game point - one point away to win the tennis game.
  • Grand Slam - any one of the four most prestigious tennis tournaments including the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
  • Groundstroke - a forehand or backhand shot made after the tennis ball bounces once on the court
  • Head - the top part of the racket that has the strings and is meant to hit the ball.
  • Hold - when the server wins the tennis game.
  • I-formation - a formation in doubled where the both players stand on the same side of the court prior to starting the point.
  • Jamming - to hit the tennis ball straight to the opponent's body not allowing them to extend the racquet to hit the ball well.
  • Kick serve - a serve with a lot of spin causing the ball to bounce high
  • Let - when the tennis ball from a service touches the net but still lands within the service box. The server gets another try as this does not count as a fault.
  • Lob - a tennis shot where the ball is lifted high above the net. Can be a defensive shot in some cases, but also may cause a winner when the ball is just out of reach of the opponent, but still lands in play.
  • Love - zero points in a tennis game.
  • Match point - when one tennis player only needs one more point to win the entire match
  • Out - any tennis ball that lands outside the area of play.
  • Passing shot - when the tennis ball is hit such that it passes by the opponent at the net without them being able to hit the ball.
  • Poaching - an aggressive strategy in doubles where the tennis player at net attempts to volley a shot hit to their partner on the baseline.
  • Tennis Racquet - the main piece of equipment in tennis. It has a long handle and a oval shaped head with a string mesh stretched across it. It is used by the tennis player to hit the ball.
  • Rally - when players hit the ball back and forth to each other while the ball is landing in play.
  • Set point - when a tennis player needs one point to win the set
  • Singles - a tennis game played by two players
  • Second Service - the second serve that the server is allowed after missing the first serve. This serve must be successful or the server will lose the point (called a double fault).
  • Serve - starts the point by the server hitting the tennis ball into the opponents half of the court
  • Serve and volley - a tennis strategy where the player serves and then charges forward to the net for a volley off of the return.
  • Spin - rotation of the tennis ball as it moves through the air. Skilled tennis players can control the spin and, therefore, the ball's trajectory and bounce
  • Straight sets - when one player wins every set in a match.
  • Topspin - when the tennis ball spins forward. This can cause it to bounce higher as well as dip down quickly.
  • Unforced error - a missed shot by a player that was not caused by any excellent play by their opponent.
  • Volley - a shot where the ball is hit by the player's racquet before the ball hits the ground.
  • Winner - an outstanding tennis shot that cannot be returned by the opponent.
  • WTA - stands for Women's Tennis Association

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