What is the definition of Scoring in tennis?

Scoring in tennis may seem complicated at first, but it’s easy to understand once you become familiar with the basics. The tennis scoring system has been deeply rooted in the history of the sport and serves as a standard to determine the winner of each game, set, and match. Tennis matches can be played as part of a tournament or even just as a friendly pick-up game, but the same scoring rules apply to all.

The core of tennis scoring consists of four points: 15, 30, 40, and the game-winning point. Players must win four points to win a game and as they progress, they also need to win a specific number of games to claim a set. In most cases, a player must win at least six games to win a set, while also having a two-game lead over their opponent. However, when the scores are tied, there can be different rules for tie-breaking such as a traditional tie-break or an advantage set.

Tennis scoring has its unique terms and expressions, which add to the charm of following the game. For example, when both players reach 40 points in a game, it’s called deuce and you must win two consecutive points after deuce to win the game. By understanding the various terms and how they are used, spectators and players can fully appreciate the intricacies of the sport.

Key Takeaways

  • Tennis scoring is based on four primary points: 15, 30, 40, and the game-winning point.
  • To win a set, a player typically needs to win at least six games with a two-game lead over their opponent.
  • Tennis has its unique terminology, such as deuce, which can enhance the overall understanding of the game.

Basics of Scoring

Point System

In tennis, the point system is unique and different from most other sports. A player scores points in increments of 15 for their first and second point, then 10 for the third point. Here is a breakdown of the point system:

  • 0 points = Love
  • 1 point = 15
  • 2 points = 30
  • 3 points = 40

After a player reaches 40 points, they must win by a margin of two points to claim the game. If both players are tied at 40 (40-40), this situation is called a Deuce. To win the game from a deuce, a player must win two consecutive points. When the server wins the first point after deuce, it’s called Ad-In, and when the receiver wins the first point after deuce, it’s called Ad-Out. If both players alternate winning points after a deuce, the game continues until a player secures two consecutive points1.

Service Scoring

Scoring in tennis also depends on the player serving. The server’s points are called first, followed by the receiver’s points. For example, if the server has 30 points and the receiver has 15 points, the score is called 30-15. In tie situations, the term “All” is used, such as 15-All for a 15-15 tie.

It’s important to alternate service between players throughout the match. Players switch sides after every odd-numbered game in a set, and each player serves one game at a time. This continues until one player secures a sufficient number of games to win a set, typically six games with a margin of at least two.

Tennis Scoring Terms


In tennis, the term “Love” denotes a score of zero or no points. The origins of this term are disputed, but it possibly originates from the French term “l’oeuf,” meaning “the egg.” It is used to express the starting score of a player in each game of a set. For example, when a game starts, both players have a score of “Love.”


When both players have won at least three points (a score of 40) and have the same score, the term “Deuce” is used to indicate the situation. Deuce represents a tied score, and the game continues until one player achieves a lead of two points. To win a game from Deuce, one player must win two consecutive points.

For example, consider the following table illustrating the scoring progression in a tennis game that reaches Deuce:

Player 1Player 2Score Call
15015 – Love
151515 – All
301530 – 15
303030 – All
403040 – 30


In a game where the score reaches Deuce, the next point won by a player grants them the “Advantage.” It signifies that the player is only one point away from winning the game. If the server wins the Advantage point, the score call is “Ad-In” or “Advantage-In,” whereas if the receiver wins the Advantage point, the score call is “Ad-Out” or “Advantage-Out.”

However, if a player with the Advantage loses the following point, the score returns to Deuce. The game then continues with alternating Advantage points until one player achieves a lead of two points to win the game.

For example, consider the following table showing how the score may progress after reaching Deuce:

Player 1Player 2Score Call

In summary, understanding the terms Love, Deuce, and Advantage is essential for following the scoring system in tennis. Becoming familiar with these terms will enhance one’s appreciation of this popular sport.

Tie-Break Scoring

Tie-break scoring in tennis occurs when both players or teams reach a score of 6-6 in a set. It is a crucial aspect of the game as it helps determine the winner of a closely contested set. The tie-break rules have evolved over time, with some variations across different tournaments. Nonetheless, tie-break scoring follows a similar structure in most competitions.

In a tie-break, players take turns serving. The first server serves one point from the deuce court, after which the service switches to the other player. The second server serves twice, starting from the advantage court and then alternating between deuce and advantage courts. The players continue serving twice until the tie-break concludes. Points are counted using a numerical sequence, unlike the regular 15-30-40 scoring system in tennis.

To win a tie-break, a player or team must score at least seven points and maintain a two-point lead over their opponent. If both sides reach a score of 6 points each, the tie-break continues until one side achieves a two-point advantage. Switching sides in the tie-break occurs after every six points played to account for any external factors like sun and wind.

Different tournaments might have slightly adjusted tie-break rules. For example, the final set tie-break rules vary between major competitions such as Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the US Open, and the French Open. It is essential to be aware of these variations when following or playing in various tennis events.

In summary, tie-break scoring is an essential part of tennis, aiming to decide the winner of a closely contested set. The basic tie-break structure is straightforward, with players serving alternatively and scoring numerically. However, slight variations exist between different tournaments, making it essential for players and tennis enthusiasts to familiarize themselves with the specific rules in each competition.