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Introduction to Tennis

Tennis is a fun, competitive game played by people of all ages, shapes and sizes. All you need is a racket, a tennis court, a few tennis balls and a partner, and you're ready to play. Tennis can be played between two players (singles) or between two teams of two players (doubles). Each player uses a racket with strings to hit a yellow, felt-covered hollow rubber ball over the net into the opponent's court.

Tennis as we know it started in England in the late 1800s, where it was mainly played by upper class citizens. Today, tennis is played all over the world, and is an Olympic spot. There are four major tennis tournaments, called the Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open.

The Basics

The basic game of tennis is relatively easy to learn, though you can spend a lifetime perfecting your technique and strategy. A game of tennis consists of four points, called 15, 30, 40 and game. Zero points is referred to as 'love'. The first player to win four points, wins the game, though you must win by two points. Thus, if the players are tied at 40, it is called 'deuce', and the player must win two additional points to win the game. To win a point, a player must hit a serve or shot that cannot be returned by their opponent, or their opponent must hit a shot into their own net, or outside the court lines.

Each point begins with a player serving the ball into their opponent's service box. Each player gets two chances to serve the ball into their opponent's service box. If the ball hits the net and bounces into the service box, it is called a 'let' and the server gets a do-over for that serve. A match is divided into sets. To win a set, a player must win 6 games, and again, you must win by 2 games. If a set is tied 6-6, a tiebreaker game will be played to decide who wins the set. In a typical match, the first to win two sets, wins the match. In men's championship matches, the first to win three sets wins the match.

There are 8 basic tennis shots: the serve, forehand, backhand, volley, half-volley, overhead smash, drop shot, and lob. The serve, forehand and backhand are the most commonly used shots, and beginners should start by learning these three shots well.

Getting Started

A great way to get started playing tennis as a beginner is to take a private or group lesson. It's difficult to un- learn bad habits, so if you have a chance to learn from a Pro, take it. Otherwise, you may want to consider getting an instructional video or book, or ask a friend who's been playing to teach you. Borrow, rent or buy yourself a racket, grab a partner and give it a shot. You can also find a practice wall to hit against if you're not quite ready for partner play. Either way, don't forget the main point of tennis is to have fun!