Rule of Doubles Tennis

The Court

In doubles, the entirety of the court is inbounds, including the lines. The line furthest away from the net is the baseline. This is the line you must stand behind when serving. The horizontal line between the baseline and the net is the service line. Notice this is bisected by a vertical line, making two “service boxes.”

Order of Play

Randomly determine who will serve first. This player serves an entire game, alternating serves from the right and left sides of the baseline. When serving from the right, you must serve into your opponents’ left service box, and vice versa. You get two chances to serve the ball into the correct service box. After two misses, a “double fault” is called, and the receiving team wins the point. If the ball hits the net but still falls into the correct service box, this is a “let” and the serve is replayed. Once the game is finished, alternate the serve between teams and players for the rest of the match. Teams switch ends of the court after every odd numbered game in a set.

Scoring

Newcomers to tennis are often baffled by the unique scoring system. Teams start at love (0), and with each point won go to 15, 30, and 40, followed by winning the game. The first team to win six games wins the set. Usually, doubles matches are played best two out of three sets. During a game, if teams are tied 40-40, this is known as deuce, and a team must win two points in a row to win the tennis game. The team who wins the first point at deuce gains the “advantage,” and if they win the next point, they win the game. If they lose the next point, the score goes back to deuce, and the process starts over.

A set must be won by two games more than the opponent. Therefore, if a set is tied 6-6, a tiebreaker is initiated. A tiebreaker is scored with individual points up to seven, with a two point margin of victory needed. The first server serves one point from the right side of the baseline, then teams switch ends. Going forward, each server serves two points, starting from the left side, with teams switching ends every four points.

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