Have you ever played tennis before? Chances are if you are reading this article then you haven't. This article will give you a head start before you hit the courts so you don't make a complete fool of yourself in front of your friends.
Tennis is a game played between 2-4 people. When you play with one other person you are playing a "singles" game. When you play with 4 people you are playing a "doubles" game. In this situation each team has two player. This can be a very fun way to play tennis. After all, the more the merrier!
You only really need 4 things to play tennis: a racket, a ball, a net and a court.
Tennis courts can vary in size but they always have the same set of lines on them and a net pulled taunt across the middle. The line closest to the net is called the service line. It runs parallel with the net. The next parallel line is called the baseline. It can be found furthest from the net. Finally there are two long lines along each side of the court called the alleys.
During a match of singles play the alleys are "out". This means that if a ball lands inside them it is not considered to be in play. However if you are playing doubles the alleys are considered in play.
On each side of the court is also what is called a service box. This is the box on the servers left hand side. The service box is between the alley and the middle of the court, between the service line and the net. A serve is only considered to be good if the ball lands in this box. Which brings us to the first part of the game. The serve.
The player who is serving will stand behind the baseline on the right side of the court. He must hit the ball onto the service box on the opposing teams side of the court.
On the other hand, if the serve is good then the person on the other side of the net must hit the serve either before it bounces or after one bounce. Any more bounces then one and the server will get a point.
Every time the player successfully serves the ball he must switch to the other side of his part of the court and serve from there.
Both players hit the ball back and forth until someone misses the ball, hits it out of bounds, or hits the net. If any of these happen then the other player gets a point.
The scoring of a game is complex and will not be covered here. Its an article on to itself!
The match is officially over when a player wins 6 games. But he must also have 2 more wins then his opponent. The match must continue until this criteria is filled.
These are the very bare bones of tennis. If you want to learn more the best way is to hit the courts with someone who already knows the game. Even if you decide not to play in the official format, it can be fun to just hit the balls back and forth.