Tennis Rules and Laws

Not much has changed in the rules over the last 80 years with the exception of two major changes in 1908 and one in 1961. In 1908 a rule was added that required the person serving the ball to keep on foot on the ground at all times while in the serving motion. The other change was in 1961 when the tiebreaker scoring system was introduced in order to speed up the game and end sets and matches in a timely fashion.

The game is started by the serve and the server must hit the ball into a marked area that is diagonally from them. The server is given two chances to do so. All balls are considered "in" as long as any part of the ball is touching any part of the out of bounds lines or the service lines. If the serve hits the top of the net and goes over, then it is considered a "let" and is not considered one of the server's two chances.

Players have to return a ball hit to them before the second bounce and if they choose they can return the shot before it touches the surface of the court. The first player to win six games in a set and be in front by two or more games wins the set. If the players reach six wins a piece then the set enters a tiebreaker and the first player to score seven points and be in front by two points wins the set.

New technology has been instituted into the game in the last five years including an electronic eye the follows the ball and can be used by players to challenge an umpire or linesperson's call. Players are given an unlimited number of challenges but if they are wrong on three in one set, then they cannot use any again until the next set.

When doubles is played (two teams of two players) the court is larger to compensate for the extra players. The same court is used although new out of bounds lines are used. The International Tennis Federation is considering instituting a new rule for "grunting" when hitting the ball. This first started with former player Monica Seles and is very common in the women's professional circuit but many claim it is very distracting. There are also rules about using performance enhancing drugs and other illegal drugs while playing and recently there have been some scandals due to betting on matches which have resulted in suspensions and fines.


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