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How to Score in Tennis in 2024

Welcome to the only guide you will need to understand how to score in tennis. If you’ve ever found yourself puzzled by the scoring system in tennis, wondering why it jumps from love to 15, and then suddenly to 40, you’re not alone.

I’m here to guide you through the ins and outs of how to score in tennis, with a hint of humor to keep things light. After all, understanding tennis scoring shouldn’t feel like solving a complex math problem – although sometimes it might seem that way!

So put your thinking cap on, because this guide will explain in no time how it all works!

Terminology You Need to Know

To effectively score the game of tennis, it’s essential to understand its unique terms. Here’s a quick rundown:


Surprisingly, in tennis, ‘love’ means zero. It’s the starting score of any game.

15, 30, 40:

These are the consecutive point values in tennis. Scoring moves from love (0) to 15, then 30, and finally 40.


This occurs when both players have scored 40 points, leading to a tie. It’s a critical juncture in the game that heightens suspense.


After deuce, the next point won is called ‘advantage’. This means the player is one point away from winning the game, unless their opponent scores, bringing it back to deuce.

Game, Set, Match:

The structure of scoring in tennis. A game is won by the first player to reach at least four points with a two-point lead. A set is a collection of games, and the match is determined by the number of sets won.

Understanding these terms is key to not only keeping score but also appreciating the strategic depth of tennis. Each term isn’t just a number or a word; it’s a crucial part of the game’s narrative.


A walkover is when as a victory awarded to a player when their opponent concedes a match before it begins, usually due to injury or illness.

How to Score in Tennis: The different parts

Scoring Games

Now, let’s get into the heart of how to score in tennis during games. In tennis, a game starts with a zero score, or as we love to call it, ‘love’. The first point won takes the score to 15, the second to 30, and the third to 40. If you’re thinking, “Why not just 1, 2, 3?”, you’re not alone. But that’s the charm of tennis – it has its unique quirks.

After 40, the next point won by a player usually wins the game, but there’s a catch: you need to win by a margin of two points. This is where deuce comes into play – if both players reach 40, the game is at deuce, and you need two consecutive points to win.

Understanding this progression of scores is crucial in mastering how to score in tennis. So, the next time you’re playing or watching, remember: love, 15, 30, 40, game – it’s as simple (and as complicated) as that!

Scoring Sets and Matches

After grasping how games are scored, let’s move up a level to understand how to score in tennis when it comes to sets and matches. A set consists of a series of games, and the first player to win six games wins the set. However, like a plot twist in a good book, there’s a condition: you must win by at least two games. If both players reach six games, a tie-breaker game is often played to decide the set.

A standard match is usually best of three or five sets if its a grand slam. Unlike many other sports, tennis operates in a knockout system at the professional level. As soon as you lose a match, your tournament is over. There are some exceptions to this, but this is how all grand slams and most major tournaments decide their champion!

Scoring a Tiebreak

When a set reaches a 6-6 deadlock, the tennis scoring rules introduce us to the tiebreak – a mini-game of nerves and precision. In a tiebreak, players alternate service points, starting with the player who was next in rotation to serve. The first player to reach 7 points wins the tiebreak, but similar to games and sets, there’s a catch: you must win by at least a 2-point margin. There is also the super tiebreaker, which is the same format but to ten points.

The scoring in a tiebreak is sequential (1, 2, 3, and so on), which seems straightforward, but under the pressure of a close set, each point feels like a monumental task. Players switch ends after every six points, which can be a mental breather or a momentum breaker.

In this scenario, player 1’s score is not displayed in the first set because it can be assumed they won at 7 points. This changes when they have played further than 6-6, in which the score is shown in the second set.

Understanding the tennis scoring rules for a tiebreak is crucial because this is often where matches are won or lost. It’s a test of focus, where strategy and mental strength are just as important as physical skill. The tiebreak is not just about scoring points; it’s about keeping your cool under pressure.

Why is Tennis Scored 15, 30, and 40?

Have you ever wondered why tennis scores leap from 15 to 30, then to the somewhat peculiar 40? It’s a scoring system that’s as unique as the game itself. To keep score in tennis, we follow this centuries-old tradition, believed to have originated from medieval France.

The theory goes that a clock face was used to track points, with each point moving the hand a quarter way around, hence 15, 30, and 45. But why 40 instead of 45? It’s speculated that the change was made to allow for the term ‘deuce’ when players tied at 40, ensuring a clear two-point win. As a tennis player, I’ve always found this scoring method adds a certain charm to the game.

It’s not just about counting points; it’s about embracing a rich history that adds depth and character to every match. So, the next time you step onto the court and call out ’15-love’, remember, you’re not just keeping score, you’re continuing a centuries-old tradition.

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