Tennis Scoring System Explained in 2024: Points & Sets

Tennis is a popular sport that is played by millions of people worldwide. It is a game of skill, strategy, and endurance, and it requires both physical and mental strength to play at a competitive level. For those new to the game, the tennis scoring system can seem complicated with many new words and phrases.

This article will explain how to keep score during a tennis match and explain the basics of the tennis scoring system.

tennis scoring system

Introduction: What is Tennis?

Before we dive into the scoring system, let’s briefly explain what tennis is. Tennis is a racket sport that is played between two players (singles) or four players (doubles). In the game, the player hits a small, light ball over a net and into the opponent’s court, attempting to make it difficult for the opponent to return it. A player scores points when their opponent is unable to return the ball within the boundaries of the court.

The Basics of the Tennis Scoring System

How does tennis scoring work? Tennis has a unique scoring system that can be confusing for beginners. The scoring system is based on a series of points, games, and sets. Find out how it works below.


In tennis, points are scored in a sequence of 15, 30, 40, and game. In this game, the first player to score four points wins. Deuce, however, refers to a tie between two players at 40-40. From deuce, the player who scores two points consecutively wins.


A game is won by the first player to win four points. In order to win, a player must score two points more than their opponent. When the score reaches 6-6, a tiebreaker is played. Tiebreakers are decided by who scores seven points first (with a two-point lead).


A set is won by the first player to win six games, with a two-game lead. In the event of a tie, a tiebreaker will be played. If the first player reaches seven points (with a two-point lead), the set is decided by a tiebreaker.



When a set reaches 6-6 there is something called a tiebreak that is played out to determine the winner of the set. It is the first player to score seven points who wins the tiebreak and the set. If players tie at 6-points-to-6, the first one with a 2-point margin wins the set.The tie-break was invented by James H. ‘Jimmy’ Van Alen in 1970.


Amatch is normally played in a best-of-three or best-of-five set format. It is common for championship matches to be played over the best of five sets.

Set 1Set 2Set 3
Player 1656
Player 2471

The match was won by Player A with scores of 6-4, 5-7, and 6-1. The second set was won by player B by two games.

Tennis Scoring Rules

The basics of the tennis scoring system are relatively simple, but there are a few scoring rules to be aware of:

  • Unreturnable ball [ball bounces twice].
  • Double fault;
  • Ace [unreturnable serve].
  • The ball hit out of bounds [the lines count as in].
  • The Ball hit into the net.

What are the tennis scoring terms?

Tennis plays its first three points at 15, 30 and 40 rather than 1 point or 2 runs like other sports do.

There is no clear origin of the tennis scoring system as we see it today if you are looking for a definitive answer on why tennis uses it. Several theories have been put forward, however:

  • For tennis scoring, hands were placed at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes marks on clock faces. As a result, the 45-minute mark was reduced to 40, and the game ended at 60 minutes. The addition of minute hands to clocks didn’t begin until the 17th century, so this theory or urban legend is more about theory than fact.
  • There are numerical values associated with Jeu de Paume, a French game played with a hand instead of a racket. In addition to moving 15 feet per point scored, the serving player can move up to 45 feet. There was a 90-foot court on which the game was played.
  • There is no definitive answer to how “love” gets its name, but it is likely to be derived from “l’oeuf,” which means “the egg,” in French.


What is the scoring system in tennis?

Unlike other sports, tennis has a unique scoring system based on points, games, and sets. It awards points in sequences of 15, 30, 40, and game when the opponent cannot return the ball within the court boundaries.

What is a tiebreaker in tennis?

A tiebreaker is played when the score reaches 6-6 in a set. Sets and tiebreakers are won by those who reach seven points first (with a two-point lead).

What is “advantage” in tennis?

“Advantage” is when a player is one point away from winning the game. Upon winning the next point, they win the game. Should their opponent win the next point, the score will return to deuce.

What is a “double fault” in tennis?

The term “double fault” refers to a player who misses both of their serves during a game. One point is awarded to the opponent.

What happens if the score is tied at 40-40 in tennis?

In case the score is tied at 40-40, this is known as “deuce.” From deuce, the first player to score two points in a row wins the game.

Conclusion: Understanding Tennis Scoring

Tennis is a game of skill, strategy, and endurance, and its unique scoring system is crucial to its success. It has a unique scoring system and one that once you understand it makes for a compelling addition to an already fantastic game.


David Harris

David is the founder and chief writer at Tennis Pursuits. A tennis fanatic, David has extensive experience of the game and has reviewed 100s of products to date. He is passionate about helping others on their tennis journey.

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