Tennis terms

As with many sports, commentators can often make references which can confuse newcomers to the game. A quick reference guide to some commonly used Tennis terminology is provided below.

  • Ace – refers to a situation in which the ball bounces once in the service box, as the rules mandate, and is served so expertly that the receiver fails to return it.
  • Backhand – Refers to a stroke which requires the player to hit the ball across his/her body. The backhand is a notoriously difficult stroke to master.
  • Breaking a serve – Commentators often refer to a player breaking his/her opponent’s serve. By this, they mean that the server loses a game at Break Point. Matches are often won or lost depending on whether a player is able to “break” the serve of his/her opponent.
  • Donut/Bagel – Any set which is one by a player 6-0 (the bagel/donut referring to the 0).
  • Grand Slam – Refers to one of the four major tournaments of the Tennis calendar: The Australian Open; The French Open; Wimbledon; and The U.S. Open.
  • Ground Stroke – A stroke (either a forehand or backhand) which is taken after the ball has bounced once.
  • Golden Grand Slam – Refers to the unusual feat of winning all four Grand Slam tournaments during the course of a career, or, even more exceptionally, in the course of a single year.
  • Golden Set – The (very) unusual feat of winning a set without losing a single point to your opponent.
  • Har-Tru – A type of green clay used on the surface of some Tennis courts.
  • Toss – Commentators often refer to ‘the toss’ when describing a player’s serve. The toss is the part of the serve where the player throws the ball into the air before hitting it with his/her racket.
  • Volley – Hitting the ball back towards one’s opponent before it has bounced.