Dictionary tennis terms

Dictionary tennis terms

As with any serious sport, tennis involves the use of professional terminology that defines the basic characteristics of the game. Tennis terms include player actions, basic equipment usage, hit names, and tactical characteristics.

The tennis dictionary includes the following professional names and expressions:


Ace – serve through, when the receiver of the service does not have time to touch or reach the ball with the racket.


Ace-maker is a player with a powerful serve and a lot of aces. The best ace-maker for men is Croatian Ivo Karlovic


Approach – a preparatory strike for subsequent planned actions (usually attackers).


The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) is the governing body of men’s Tennis!


Backhand – a blow in which the hand, squeezing the racket, is facing the ball with the outside (for a right-hander, this is a left-handed blow, and for a left-hander – right).


Backspin – kick with a bottom spin, undercut.

Ball boy

Ball boy – a boy (young man) collecting and serving balls in the pauses between points or unsuccessful first serve.

Ball girl

Ball girl – a girl (girl) collecting and serving balls in the pauses between point rallies or unsuccessful first serve.


Bandana is a headband designed to prevent sweat from rolling down from the forehead to the eyes.


Beyslayner is a player who prefers to play on / behind the back line. Due to the correct choice of direction and rotation of the ball, he achieves the mistakes of the opponent. Baseliners come in an attacking and defensive style.


Block-volley – blocking blow from the air.


Break – winning a game to serve the opponent.

Break point

Break point – a situation in which the player receiving the serve, in case of winning the next rally of the ball, wins the game as well (for example, when the score is 15:40 or “Under”).


Bumper – a strip of plastic that is applied to the string holes on the top of the racquet rim to protect the rim from scratches when the racket touches the court surface.

Came back, comeback

Came back, comeback 1) a situation when, during the match, a hopelessly lagging player or pair breaks the tide of the struggle and wins; 2) the player’s return to the tour after a long break.


Challenge – determination of the place of the ball landing using the electronic Hawk-Eye system, carried out in cases of disagreement between the tennis player and the judge’s decision on this episode.

Challenge round

Challenge round is a competition system in which last year’s winner defends his title by playing only in the final with the winner of the qualifying tournament – the challenger (contender for the champion title). In tennis, this system was abolished in 1921, except for the Davis Cup, in which it was used until 1972.


Challenger is a men’s tournament hosted by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) or the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP) or a women’s tournament under the patronage of the European Tennis Federation (TE), with a prize fund of $ 25,000 + admission (free room and board) to $ 150,000 + admission. Since 2007 there are no ITF Challenger tournaments.


Championship is a competition (tournament) in which the title of champion is awarded to the winner.


Cheсk – determining where the ball lands on clay courts, when the referee, at the request of the player, examines the ball mark in the immediate vicinity.


Cheсk-step is one of the types of leg movements in which the player pushes off with one foot during the strike, and ends the striking movement by landing on both feet, for example, when performing a smash.


Choking is a psychological and biochemical state caused by fear and nervous overstrain (in sports slang – “jitters”).


Chop – a sharp (“chopping”) blow on the ball (usually cut).


Clinic is a demonstration training of a professional player with young tennis players or an open lesson.


Code is a penalty on a scale of penalties assigned to a player by a tower judge or head referee for violating the Player’s Code of Conduct. The first violation is a warning; second – awarding a point to the opponent; the third and subsequent ones are the awarding of a game in favor of the opponent.

Come on

Come on! – an encouraging exclamation like “Come on!” or “Forward!”


Consolation is one of the competition systems based on the Olympic system, which provides a consolation tournament for those who lose in the first round of the main tournament. The winner will be awarded a consolation prize.


Correction – “Correction” – exclamation of the umpire on the tower when correcting the error of the linesman when determining the place of the ball landing.


Court is a tennis court.


Court-master is a court worker who maintains it.


Cringles are plastic sleeves that fit into the string holes in the rim. Designed to protect the strings from chafing from contact with the sharp edges of the rim holes.


Cross – a ball sent diagonally from one corner of the court to another.


Cross-court is the same as cross.

Choice of ends

Side Selection – If a player loses the Serve Selection draw before the start of the match, he chooses the side of the court.

Clay court

A clay (clay) court is a tennis court, the surface of which is made of crushed bricks or various rocks. There are two types of coatings: red ground and green ground.


Default – removal of a player from participation in the competition due to violation of the Player’s Code of Conduct.


Disqualification – deprivation of the right to participate in competitions for a certain period established by the competent sports authority.


Dress-code is a set of requirements for a dress code. This is a section in the Player’s Code of Conduct.


Drive is a strong, biting blow.


Drive-volley is a sweeping blow from the air, in which the ball is given top spin.


Drop-shot – A short cut ball that has a low “dying” bounce and often bounces backwards or abruptly to the side.


Drop-volley – shortened air strike.


A shot that lands very close to the baseline rather than short around the service line


An expression that is used when the actual score is 40-40


The right side of the tennis court. It is called Deuce-Court because all deuce points are played from this side

Double Bagel

A match that ends with the score 6-0 6-0 is often called a double bagel in tennis circles. One of the funniest tennis terms in my opinion


When you have four players on the court and two are playing against two this is called a doubles match.

Down the Line

A shot that is hit straight along the sideline into the opponent?s court


Any shot in Tennis that does not land within the lines that it is supposed to land within is called an error

Fair play

Fair play – ethical and moral principles of fair play (examples can be found here), excluding actions aimed at achieving victory at any cost. The main principles are: a noble attitude towards the opponent and respect for the decisions of the referees (to make all decisions of the referee and challenge them correctly and in rare cases), emotional restraint, adequate perception of any outcome of the point and the match as a whole. The literal translation is “fair game”. There is the International Committee for Fair Play (CIFP), which awards the CIFP World Fair Play award every year. The term “sportsmanship” is often used in English, for example, one of the ATP awards is called the “Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award” (named after Swedish tennis player Stefan Edberg)


Fault – an exclamation from the referee stating that the ball has not been hit in the service field.

Fed Cup – Federation Cup

Fed Cup – Federation Cup  – International team competition for women, established by the International Tennis Federation in 1963. on the occasion of her 50th birthday (analogy for the Davis Cup).


Fitness – physical training aimed at increasing strength and endurance

Foot fault

Foot fault – a step (feed error) when the feed steps (steps) on the line, i.e. serving from the field. Regulated by Rule 18.


Forehand – a blow in which the hand, squeezing the racket, is facing the flying ball with the fingers (for a right-handed person – a blow from the right).

Foul shot

Foul shot – wrong shot. Typically this term refers to a flying shot where the racket comes into contact with the ball on the opponent’s side, i.e. the racket has been moved over the net before impact.


Futures is a one week competition, usually for beginner professionals, with a small prize pool of up to $ 25,000. Tournaments have three categories: “$ 25,000 + H”; “$ 25,000”; “$ 10.000”. Held under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Futures qualifying matches are played without referees, but only under the supervision of an inspector judge.


Whenever the ball bounces on your side before you hit it that is called a Groundstroke. Forehands, Backhands, and Slice Backhands are all groundstrokes.

Game ball

Game ball – drawing a decisive point in a game.


Game is a game in a set in which a separate score is kept, and the serve is carried out only from one side of the court and by one player.

Game point

Game point is the same as game ball.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam – “Grand Slam” is a symbolic prize that assumes victories in 4 open championships (majors) in one year: Australia (Australian Open), France (French Open), England (Wimbledon), USA (US Open). “Golden helmet” – to this is added the victory (in the same year) of the Olympic tournament (the owners of the “Golden helmet” are Steffi Graf and Serena Williams).


Grip – the base winding of the racket handle made of genuine leather or compacted artificial materials (1.5-2.3 mm thick), which is wound around the handle frame. Provides comfortable and tight contact of the palm with the handle, absorption of sweat, partial damping of vibration and recoil of the racket when it contacts the ball. It can be with or without an inner adhesive layer.


Grip – the grip of the racket (the way you hold the racket in your hand).


Half-court – the area of ​​the playing court near the service line on each half of the court.


Half-volley – hitting the ball from a half-flight.


Handicap is an advantage in the score given to a weaker opponent in order to balance the chances of winning (same as a handicap).


Hard – synthetic tennis court flooring. The surface can be smooth or rough.


When you win your service game it is called a hold.

Hot shot

Hot shot – unusual (eccentric) finishing blow. Direct translation of “hot” blow (author’s note – I would use the word “awesome”).

Keverse cross, inside-out

Keverse cross, inside-out – a diagonal kick that is performed with a forehand from the left sector of the court or a backhand from the right (this combination is true for a right-hander, and vice versa for a left-hander).

Kick serve

Kick serve – serve with high speed and strong top rotation of the ball (after bouncing the speed of rotation is doubled). After the rebound, the ball is at the height of the receiver’s shoulder and abruptly goes to the side. Professionals use kick serve as a second. The term twist serve is often used.


Kicks – an unsuccessful kick, after which the ball flies in an unpredictable direction and / or trajectory. This occurs most often when the ball hits the edge of the string surface or rim. “Kiksanut” (slang) – hit unsuccessfully.

Lawn tennis

Lawn tennis is the original name of tennis, meaning “tennis on the grass”. The literal translation is “tennis on the lawn”. The term was used from 1874 to 1977.


Let is a referee’s expression that means that the point should be replayed, including during service, when the ball, touching the net, enters the service zone.


Linesman is a line judge.

Lucky loser

Lucky loser – a player who lost the qualifying selection, but was included by the organizers in the main draw of the tournament in the event of refusal of any of those included in it, if such is provided for by the regulations of the tournament. Literal translation – “lucky loser”


Major – a category of the tournament of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), part of the Grand Slam series (Grand Slam) – 4 of the highest rating and highest paid tournaments: Australian Open (Australian Open), French Open (Roland Garros), Open championship of England (Wimbledon), US Open (US Ouren). When using this term, for example, they say: “Won three out of four majors.” The term “Major” was coined by the ITF in 1923, and the phrase “Grand Slam” has been used in the tennis lexicon since 1933. (more details here). Before the beginning of the “Open Era” professional majors were also held: “US Pro Tennis Championships” (since 1926), “French Pro Championship” (since 1930), “Wembley Championships” (since 1934).


Masters is a category of the tournament of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), one of the 9 largest tournaments, which in terms of prize money and awarded rating points are second only to the Grand Slam tournaments – majors.

Match ball

Match ball – a decisive point, the winning of which ends with the victory in the match.


Match is a sports meeting that determines the winner.

Match point

Match point is the same as match ball.

Match tie-break

Match tie-break is an alternative scoring system when the score in a match by sets becomes 1: 1 or 2: 2 (in a 5-set match) and one tie-break is played to determine the winner (up to 7 or 10 points with a 2 point advantage) … This tie-break replaces the deciding set. Regulated by Appendix IV to the Tennis Rules.


Midsize is the average size of the racket head.


Mini-break – a point won in a tie-break on the opponent’s service.


Mixed – mixed doubles (a pair consisting of a tennis player and a tennis player).


A shot hit very high over the net. These are usually defensive shots and many tennis player dislike playing against players that hit moonballs. Just hearing the tennis term “Moonball” can cause some tennis players to get into a bad mood.

Main draw

Main squad – a list of players entered the main round of singles or doubles competitions.


Net – the referee’s exclamation, fixing the ball touching the net during the serve.

Net point

Net point – a point won by hitting the net.


Net-ball- scoring a point after the ball that flew over the net touches it, and the opponent could not play it back.

No Advantage

No-Ad; completely – No Advantage – the name of an alternative scoring system in the game, in which when the score becomes “Exactly” the decisive point is played. The receiver must choose in which service field he will receive the ball (left or right square). In doubles it is decided which of the players will receive. In the mixed category, if the man serves, he must serve the decisive point in the field in which the man receives the opponent’s pair, and if the woman serves, then in the field in which the woman receives. Doubles and mixed players are not allowed to change reception areas before a decisive point is played. The player (pair) who wins the decisive point wins the game.

  • or a representative of the top 50 to participate in a challenger tournament;
  • or the player for whom this permit was purchased.


Out – a) missing the ball into the court; b) an exclamation of the referee stating that the ball has landed outside the tennis court.


Overgrip – replaceable tape (winding), which is wound on the main grip of the racket handle to reduce slip by absorbing sweat and fat from the palm (0.38-0.75 mm thick).


Overhead – hitting the ball, flying above the head. It differs from smash in that the sash beats vertically above the head, and the overhand is from the side.


Oversize – extra large racket head size.

Paddle tennis

Paddle tennis is a game similar to tennis.


Placement – the direction of the ball to the intended place (aimed strike at the “place”).

Play off round

Play off round is a preliminary round in the Davis Cup and Federation Cup tournaments, in which the teams that took the 9-16th place in the final stage of the World Group (highest) and the best rated teams of the zonal groups I participate. participants of the preliminary stage of the “World Group”.


Play-off is a competition system in which the loser ends his participation in the competition. In tennis, it is used when, at the initial stage, meetings are held in subgroups according to the circular system (round robin), and then at the playoff stage, the winners of the subgroups meet among themselves according to the Olympic system. Or it is carried out to enter the main stage of the competition (transitional stage) between several applicants, for example, to enter the Davis Cup World Group or Fed Cup.


Point – point, as the smallest unit of account.


Pre-stretch – stretching a tennis string before pulling it onto the racquet. It is carried out so that the tension “sags” less.

Pro set

Pro set – a match consisting of one set, which is played up to eight games won, and not up to six, as in a regular set. When the score is 8: 8, a tie-break is held. Often used in veteran tennis.

Racquet maker

Racquet maker is a specialist well versed in the properties of racquets and constantly monitors new products coming to the market. He professionally recommends tennis players to choose the right model. The racket maker, when contracted with the player, monitors his sports development, suggesting in time to change the old model of the racket to a new one, more suitable in terms of technical parameters. In addition, he deals with the fitting of racquets: changing the weight, balance, moment of inertia, handle size (details about these and other characteristics of racquets and their effect on the playing qualities of racquets here). The United States Stringer Association (USRSA) trains racket makers and issues a certificate after training. “Master Racquet Technician”.


Qualifier is a qualifier, i.e. a player who managed to successfully pass the qualifying (qualifying) tournament and get into the main tournament bracket. Sometimes they say “qualify”.


Qualifying is the qualifying stage of the competition, the winners of which will advance to the main stage of the tournament.

Racket Balance

Racket Balance is a characteristic of the racket indicating the position of its center of gravity relative to the geometric center. The balance can be: “neutral” when the center of gravity coincides with the geometric center; “in the head” – shifted towards the rim; “in the handle” – shifted towards the handle.


Ranking is an international scoring system that determines the position of a player relative to others based on the results of participation in tournaments.


Rating – has two meanings: 1) the system of qualification of players by tennis associations (federations, associations), which ranks the places of tennis players in the general list depending on their performance in competitions; 2) the individual place of a tennis player in the classification list.


Rebreak is a reverse break when a tennis player who loses a game on his serve wins, in the same set, a game on his opponent’s serve.


Referee is the chief judge of the competition (tournament).

Replay point

Replay point – replay a point.


Reverse is an overhead kick in which the hand squeezing the racket is facing the outside of the ball. Same as reverse smash.


Round – meaning the holding of matches, the winners of which go to the next stage of the competition (according to the tournament grid) and so on until two players remain, who in the final are playing the title of winner or champion.

Round robin

Round robin is a round robin system (with a drawing of all places), in which each participant plays with all other participants. In competition calendars it is referred to as “RR” In tennis tournaments it is often used at the initial stage, when all participants are divided into 2, 4 or 8 subgroups. In the next stages, the playoffs are held, when the winners of the subgroups play the play-offs and then according to the Olympic system.


Satellite is the lowest level tournament held by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for beginner professionals (with ATP rating points), with a prize pool of $ 25,000 or $ 50,000. It consisted of 3 preliminary tournaments and the 4th final tournament, in which 24 tennis players took part, who performed most successfully at the previous stage. Since 2007 not carried out.


Senior – veteran tennis player. Tennis players (men and women) who have reached the age of 35 (taken into account, only the year of birth, day and month are not taken into account) are in this status. Players 60 years of age or older have super-senior status. Veteran tournaments are held by individuals, tennis clubs and public organizations, as well as some national tennis federations (associations). The International Tennis Federation has a veteran tennis department, which organizes separately tournaments (including majors) for former professionals and tournaments for amateur tennis players. For the latter, the most prestigious tournament is the personal and team World Championships, which are annually held in different countries separately for seniors and super-s


Service – the same as serving.


Serving – serving. The kick by which the ball is put into play for a point.

Second serve

Second serve – the player’s second attempt to break through the service. It is given to the player in case of an unsuccessful first serve; in order to avoid a double error (loss of a point), the tennis player punches it at a lower speed, compensating with a backspin.


Servvolleer – a player who prefers to go to the net after serving. Players of this style have a powerful, directional serve and a sense of identifying the opponent’s least defended zone at the moment of the final blow from the air.


Semi-final – a match preceding the final; the stage of the tournament, in which only 4 players (teams) remain in the competition


Set is a game in a match in which each point corresponds to one game won.

Set point

Set point is the same as set-ball.


Set-ball – playing a decisive point in a set.


Set-break – a break between sets of 120 seconds. Regulated by Rule 24a.

Short set

Short set – an alternative system of scoring in a set, in which the player (pair) who won 4 games first, with an advantage of 2 games over the opponent, wins the set. When the score is 4: 4, a tie-break is played.

Shot lock

Shot lock – timer control for the first serve, limited to 25 seconds.


Side-spin – a kick with a side spin.

Special exempt

Special exempt – a special admission for a player who must participate in a qualifying tournament, but at the time of the start of qualifying, he ends up playing another tournament (singles) included in the same Competition Calendar. A place is reserved for such a player in the main draw of the tournament, if such is provided by the organizers. Notification of such a player is given by the head judge of the previous tournament.


Squash is a game similar to tennis.


Stop-volleys is a shortened blow from the air, characterized by the fact that the ball almost does not bounce off the string surface and falls immediately behind the net. It is performed with a rigid hand with a relaxed forearm (the hand seems to absorb the kinetic energy of the ball).


Stretching – carrying out exercises aimed at stretching muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is carried out before the start of the match or training (static warm-up) in order to prevent injury. After training – to improve the elasticity of muscles and tendons.


Stringer is a specialist in stringing racquet strings as well as tuning the racket with special tennis accessories. Good stringers are highly respected among professional tennis players. André Agassi put it this way: “The result of the match can depend on the quality of the string tension. A match could be a career change. And a career can mean that life will turn out differently. ” In the United States, there is the USRSA Professional Stringer Association.

Super tie-break

Super tie-break is a tie-break in which the winner must score 10 points, not 7 as in a regular tie-break. When the score is 9: 9, the game continues until the difference in the score is two points. May be stipulated by the position of the tournament, instead of the decisive set (tie-break match). The super tie-break score is indicated in square brackets, for example, [11: 9]. Sometimes the name “championship tie-break” is used.


Super-vizier is a representative at the tournament of the association or federation whose calendar includes this tournament. The main function is to monitor compliance with the requirements for organizing and conducting the tournament. At the tournament, he is the last resort for interpreting the rules and making decisions.

Synthetic gut

Synthetic strings – all types of strings other than natural; are made of polymeric materials, according to their chemical composition and structure, they are divided into 3 groups: aramid, kevlar and multi-fiber. In terms of playing characteristics, modern synthetic strings are as close as possible to natural ones.


Tactics – ways and means of implementing tactical plans of the game. Distinguish between single and doubles tactics.


Teenager – the age category for boys and girls under 18.


Tie-break is a decisive game in a set in which the score is scored by awarding points for won balls with natural numbers up to seven, if the difference is at least two points. In a tie-break 6: 6, the game continues until the difference in the score is two points, for example 14:12. A tie-break is played when the score in the set is 6: 6. Regulated by Rule 56. Literal translation – “drawbreaker”. The term “bullet, shootouts” is sometimes used – “to win on shootouts”.

Tie-break set

Tie-break set – a set in which, according to the regulations of the tournament, with the score 6: 6, the final game is played – a “tie-break”. It is regulated by Rule 6. The tie-break score is indicated in parentheses and only the figure corresponding to the points of the losing side, for example, 7: 6 (3), is given. score in a tie-break – 7: 3.


Time – the referee’s team, warning about the end of the warm-up or rest of the players (when switching sides and set-break).


Time-out – a break during the match: medical or toilet break.


Timing – the synchronicity of all elements of the strike in time, starting with movement towards the ball and ending with the exit from the strike (i.e., the consistency of movements in time).


Topspin – A heavily twisted shot in which a significant top spin is imparted to the ball. It differs from other types of impact by a steeper trajectory of the ball and a very high rebound from the surface of the court. Historians believe that the founder of this blow was the Scotsman Herbert Lawford – the champion and 5-time finalist of Wimbledon in 1880, 1884-1988.


Tour is a series of tournaments, according to the results of performances in which the rating of the players is kept.


Tweener – a blow between the legs while either facing the net, or back to the net. In the first case, it is used if it drops in front of the feet, in the second – when reaching the ball sent by the opponent with a bypass candle. At the official level, the back-to-back twiner was first shown by Argentine Guillermo Vilas at the 1975 Indianapolis tournament.

Twist serve

Twist serve is the same as kick serve.

Two! (Take two!)

Two! – means that the server has two more serves; in game use (when playing without a referee), the receiver announces to the server after the first unsuccessful service that the service must be replayed (the ball touched the net, but landed in the service field).


This is another expression for backspin. The ball rotates backwards and stays low on these shots

Unforced Error

When Player 1 misses an easy shot that is called an unforced error

US Open

The US Open is the final calendar tournament of the Grand Slam series, held since 1881 in August-September as the US national championship.


Vamos! – An encouraging exclamation like “Come on!”


Volley – hit from the air.

Wild сard

Wild сard – special admission (literal translation “random” card), issued by the organizers of the tournament in the following cases: – either to a young promising player to participate in the main draw; – or a well-deserved player with a low rating, due to missing a large number of horizontal bars through no fault of his (author’s note – In 2017, there was a precedent when the former first racket of the world Maria Sharapova, after a 15-month disqualification in some tournaments, was given a wild- card);

  • either to an honored player who did not timely submit an application for participation in the tournament, and then decided to participate in it;
  • or a representative of the top 50 to participate in a challenger tournament;
  • or the player for whom this permit was purchased.

In team competitions, a “random” card is given to the team.


Winner – a) an actively winning ball that the opponent is unable to hit; b) the winner of the tournament (match, set, game).


Wimbledon is the oldest Grand Slam tournament and the only one of its kind currently held on the grass. It has been held since 1887 on the grass courts of the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in the suburb of London, Wimbledon.