Tennis Glossary

Tennis Court Layout

The tennis court is a rectangle on a flat surface, 78 feet (23.77m) long and, for singles matches, 27 feet (8.23 m) wide. For doubles matches, the court is 36 feet (10.97m) wide. It is divided in the middle by a net suspended between two net posts at a height of 3.5 feet (1.07m), dipping to a height of 3 feet (0.914m) at the centre. The ball typically must pass over the net when hit, but it is also legal to hit the ball around the net posts.

The boundaries of the court are defined by lines, which are there to show where the ball can be legally hit, and where the players can legally stand when serving or receiving a serve. Balls that land beyond the court boundaries on the first bounce after crossing the net are considered ‘out’, while balls that bounce either on or inside the lines are considered ‘in’.

The lines on the court have specific names and purposes:

  • Baseline: marks the long boundaries of a court. The server must stand behind the baseline, between the centre mark and the sideline when serving.
  • Singles sideline: marks the wide boundaries of a court when two singles players are playing.
  • Doubles sideline: marks the wide boundaries of a court when doubles is being played.
  • Doubles alley/tramline: the 4.5 feet (1.37m) gap between the singles sideline and the doubles sideline
  • Service lines: located 21 feet (6.40 m) from each side of the net, parallel with the net.
  • Centre service line: the line located parallel to the singles sidelines and halfway between them, creating two service boxes. A player’s serve must cross the net and land in the service box diagonally opposite in order to start a point.
  • Deuce court: the half of the court located to the right of the centre mark and centre service line from the server and returner’s perspective.
  • Ad court: the half of the court located to the left of the centre mark and centre service line from the server and returner’s perspective.
  • Centre mark: located in the middle of the baseline, the mark indicates the central boundary of the deuce court and ad court for the server.
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