What is the definition of Singles in tennis?

Singles tennis is a popular variation of the sport where two players face off against each other in a one-on-one match. This type of tennis match is generally played between two men or two women, although matches between a man and a woman can also occur on an informal basis or as exhibitions. The basic gameplay involves each player using their racket to hit the ball over the net, with the objective of making the opponent unable to return the ball within the court’s boundaries. Success in singles tennis requires a combination of athleticism, strategy, and mental toughness.

There are some key differences between singles and doubles tennis, which involves pairs of players on each side. In singles tennis, each player is solely responsible for covering their side of the tennis court, which allows for more court space to exploit and makes speed and stamina essential. Top singles tennis players need to possess a balance of power, technical skill, and mental focus to consistently outperform their opponents.

Key Takeaways

  • Singles tennis is a one-on-one competition where individuals face off on their own.
  • A successful singles player requires athleticism, strategy, and mental toughness.
  • Differences between singles and doubles tennis include court coverage and required skill sets.

Basics of Singles Tennis

The Court

Singles tennis is played on a court specifically designed for one-on-one matches. The court is rectangular, measuring 78 feet in length and 27 feet in width. It includes a singles sideline on both sides, a baseline at each end, and a net that divides the court in half. The net stands at a height of 3.5 feet on the sides and 3 feet in the center.

Scoring System

The scoring system in singles tennis is based on points, games, and sets. Points are scored in the increments of 15, 30, and 40, with “love” representing zero. A game is won when a player reaches 40 and is at least two points ahead of their opponent. To win a set, a player must win six games with a two-game advantage. A typical match consists of best-of-three or best-of-five sets.

  1. First point: 15
  2. Second point: 30
  3. Third point: 40
  4. Game point: Advantage

Service and Return

The service is an essential part of singles tennis, as it initiates the point. The server stands behind the baseline and must hit the ball diagonally across the court, landing it in the opponent’s service box. The serve must be performed underhand or overhand, and the server gets two attempts to land a successful serve.

The returner must attempt to hit the ball back to the server’s side of the court after a valid serve. If the returner misses the ball or hits it out-of-bounds, the server scores a point. Successful returns commence a rally, with both players exchanging shots until one player wins the point.

In singles tennis, players alternate serving throughout the match. Each player serves for one entire game before switching roles. This rotation helps ensure a balance of opportunities for both players to serve and return during the match.

Key Skills for Singles Tennis


Effective footwork is crucial in singles tennis, as it allows a player to quickly change direction, maintain balance, and reach the ball efficiently. Some essential footwork techniques include:

  • Split step: A small hop that helps players react to their opponent’s shot.
  • Crossover step: A quick and explosive step used to cover lateral distances on the court.
  • Side shuffle: A lateral movement used to cover moderate distances while maintaining a player’s ready position.


A winning singles tennis strategy relies on understanding the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses to exploit them effectively. Here are the top five tennis singles strategy tips:

  1. Consistency: Focus on making fewer unforced errors than the opponent.
  2. Serve: A strong and accurate serve can pressure the opponent and set the pace of the game.
  3. Depth: Hitting deep and aggressive shots pushes the opponent back, making it difficult for them to attack.
  4. Angles: Utilize cross-court and down-the-line shots to move the opponent out of their comfort zone.
  5. Weakness exploitation: Identify the opponent’s weaker side and consistently target it.

Psychological Aspects

The mental aspect of singles tennis is just as important as physical skills. Some critical psychological components include:

  • Confidence: Trust in one’s abilities and maintain a positive mindset throughout the match.
  • Focus: Concentrate on each point and avoid being distracted by external factors or previous errors.
  • Mental toughness: Develop resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks during the game.
  • Emotional control: Manage emotions effectively to avoid frustration or overconfidence affecting performance.

By developing these key skills, singles tennis players can enhance their chances of success on the court.

Differences Between Singles and Doubles Tennis

Singles and doubles tennis are two distinct formats of the sport, each with its own set of rules and strategies. In singles tennis, there are two players competing against each other, whereas in doubles tennis, there are two teams consisting of two players each. This section will briefly discuss some of the key differences between these two formats.

Court Size and Boundaries – One of the primary differences between singles and doubles tennis is the size of the playing area. Although the length of the court remains the same, doubles matches utilize a wider court than singles matches. The additional court space in doubles, known as the alley or tramlines, allows for a different style of play and strategy compared to singles matches.

Player Positioning and Movement – In singles tennis, players are responsible for covering the entire court on their own, which leads to a significant emphasis on speed, agility, and endurance. On the other hand, doubles tennis requires teamwork and coordination between partners, who share the responsibility of covering the court. Communication and understanding each other’s playing styles are essential for success in doubles.

Game Strategy – The larger court size and the presence of a partner in doubles tennis necessitate different strategies than in singles tennis. While singles play often focuses on wearing down the opponent with powerful groundstrokes and well-placed shots, doubles play involves more complex tactics, such as utilizing various formations, targeting the weaker opponent, and effectively employing volleys and net play.

To summarize, singles and doubles tennis may seem similar on the surface, but they differ significantly in court size, player positioning, and game strategy. Players must adapt their skills and techniques to excel in each format, making tennis an engaging and dynamic sport.

Famous Singles Tennis Players

Tennis has seen numerous talented and iconic players competing in singles matches. Throughout history, exceptional athletes have left their mark on the sport. Here, we will discuss a few of these highly-regarded singles tennis players.

Rod Laver is often considered one of tennis’ all time greats. He is best known for achieving a Grand Slam in singles play twice, in 1962 and 1969 [^1^]. Laver’s aggressive serve-and-volley style, along with his relentless drive to win, earned him his legendary status in the world of tennis.

Another prominent singles tennis player is Roger Federer. With 20 Grand Slam titles, Federer is one of the most successful athletes in the sport. His effortless and elegant playing style combined with his versatility on all court surfaces have made him a fan favorite around the globe.

Serena Williams stands out as one of the most dominant female singles tennis players. With 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Williams has cemented her place in tennis history. Known for her powerful serve and relentless determination, Serena has inspired countless athletes and demolished numerous records during her illustrious career.

In recent years, the tennis world has seen the rise of Novak Djokovic. Currently holding 20 Grand Slam titles and spending over 300 weeks as World No. 1, Djokovic has showcased his exceptional talent and adaptability on the court. His powerful groundstrokes and relentless defense make him a formidable opponent for any challenger.

There have been many other extraordinary singles tennis players, including legends Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Rafael Nadal, and Steffi Graf. Each player has contributed to the rich history of tennis, and their talent and hard work have earned them recognition as some of the sport’s greatest athletes.