28 Rules Of Long Tennis Every Player Should Know

Tennis is a popular sport that can be played either as a recreational activity on the weekend or as an individual and/or team sport at competitive levels on both small and large scales.

A long tennis match has many rules and regulations on how it must be run to ensure player safety and make sure games are not delayed for too long; these rules vary between different levels of play. Here are the top rules of long tennis that must be considered:

Table of Contents

1. A long tennis match is a set of at least five games:

A player must win 5 games to win a set, but there is no limit on how many sets are played to determine a winner.

2. Matches can be played best out of three, five, or seven sets:  

This rule depends on the level of play and time availability to complete the match. Best out of three is most often used for QuickStart Tennis at local parks, while best out of seven is more common for league matches.

3. Players change sides after every six games with 2 alternating serves:

After one player wins 6 games, the players switch sides so that each competitor will have served an equal number of times. Also, at this point, the servers alternate, and the first serve of the next set is decided by a coin toss.

4. The tie-break is played to 7 points:  

At six games, each player gets one point to serve until there is a two-point difference between them (e.g., 7-5 or 8-6). If it goes to deuce (6-6), then whoever wins two consecutive points wins the tie-break; this repeats until someone has more than seven points.

5. A player cannot win by forfeit:    

A match cannot end early because one competitor forfeits and ‘defaults’ their games (similar to a walkover in tennis). However, the only time this is allowable is when a player fails to show up to the match on time or withdraws before it starts.

6. Players must hit into opposite halves of the court:    

This rule makes it so that players cannot just aim for their opponent’s side of the court and win by default if they miss; this can be seen as an unfair way to win because it’s not based on skill. The lines dividing each half are also called ‘out of bounds.

7. Returning serves outside of the boundaries is allowed:   

Even though returning serve out of bounds results in loss of service for a player, getting close enough isn’t considered illegal zone access if one gets within one step from the line.

8. Coaching is allowed only between games and not during play: 

This makes it so that players cannot ask their coaches questions about the match or strategies during gameplay to ensure neutrality. This rule can be excluded if both players or teams agree before a match to allow coaching during a certain game only.

9. Players are responsible for damaged equipment:    

If a player breaks a racquet, damages a court, or injures themselves by hitting into the fencing, they must pay the cost of replacing anything broken or fixed since they would have been at fault for carelessly damaging property. In rare cases where someone else was at fault (e.g., another player’s ball hit them), each competitor could pay half the cost of those damages.

10. If an injury is caused by a player’s use of an illegal shot, then they lose the match:  

If a player injures themselves or another person because of an intentional serve or swing that was not within the rules of tennis, then they are disqualified from the game and therefore lose by default. This includes raised balls for smashes.

11. Each match has at least one umpire who uses the same scoring system as players:   

The umpire must accurately score points for both players so that if there is ever any question about which competitor won point X, then there will be evidence to support it on paper. The umpire also keeps track of all games played so that players don’t have to remember the score.

12. Injury timeouts last one minute:    

Injuries during a match are given enough time to allow the player to recover fully or for a doctor visit if necessary before continuing gameplay. If another player causes an injury, they must also be given this kind of timeout to recover from injuries sustained from someone else’s fault or negligence.

13. A ‘let’ can be called on serves provided it does not interfere with play:

A let is when a serve hits a net and falls into the proper area, allowing them to replay their service without losing service because of interference from something other than their opponent. This has to be done before the ball bounces for players or after it bounces, depending on which netting body is closer.

14. If a player does not make contact with the ball while serving, then they lose service:   

This rule prevents players from trying to get an unfair advantage by purposely missing serves so that their opponent cannot hit them back. It also ensures that there are no early forfeits because one player did not try hard enough during gameplay.

15. The tie-break is played best two out of three games instead of best two out of five:   

A match can end much sooner if one player wins both sets in a single game because winning the next set would give that person the match victory. This also means that if a winner isn’t decided by the end of the third set, they play another tie-break until someone wins by two games instead of just one.

16. Players are responsible for any ball that goes into the spectators:

Players started getting distracted during matches worrying about who hit into where and why. Spectators may be told to not stand in certain places or move out of players’ way, but it’s ultimately up to them whether they listen or not, so this rule makes it so players won’t get penalized if spectators interfere with gameplays unwillingly.

17. A player can receive coaching between sets without penalty:   

Coaching is not affected by the no-let rule; if a coach gives players advice between sets, then it’s too bad for them if that advice distracts their opponent, they lose.

Players can still talk to other people as long as those people don’t say anything during gameplay and do not touch any player without permission from the umpire, but coaches should be mindful of what kind of coaching is allowed and what isn’t so that there will be less trouble later on.

18. To win a match, players must defeat their opponent in two out of three games:    

If every set has one winner regardless of how many games are won or lost, ties become more likely because nobody wins two sets in a row. There is less chance of unfair results, and players don’t have to worry about how many games they’ve won compared to their opponent.

19. Players may not use receiving equipment:    

Using a receiving line or wire behind the service area makes it so that players can hit serves with more power because those items make catching those balls easier.

This means matches could be over quickly if one player is good at serving and another barely tries, resulting in an unfair match where one person wins too easily and the other loses too much.

20. The winner stays on while the loser must replace their opponent: 

If player order doesn’t change throughout gameplay, this rule ensures that no one will sit out for very long. If one player wins quickly, then the other will have a chance to go again in no time, eliminating any unfairness because of this rule.

21. The net is 3 feet high at the posts and stretched to be 5 feet high in the center:    

This ensures that only the most challenging volleys will make it over, keeping gameplay fair because one person can’t get an edge by hitting balls that come over easily.

22. A center mark is placed on each baseline: 

Even though players should know where they’re standing without these marks, seeing them puts everyone more at ease and ensures there will be less confusion during matches about who did what and when they did it. The rules also state that if a ball hits something off-court, then it’s deemed not to have been in play, so this rule makes sure two players won’t argue about whether or not the balls were good.

23. A ball is out if it clears the net and lands without being touched:    

This rule exists, so there won’t be any arguments about whether or not balls are still in play, making gameplays fairer for everyone involved even though referees could do this job already.

24. The serve must go diagonally across the court:   

A player cannot hit with too much power because they can easily come over to where their opponent isn’t standing and score points that way, but diagonal serves make it more challenging for players to hit back because of how difficult they are to reach.

25. Players must make every effort to move quickly between the service line and baseline:

Even though this rule does not exist in the men’s game, it is important for women because they can hit powerful serves. If players know that there might be consequences if they don’t move quickly enough during gameplay, they will make sure to do so without being told beforehand.

26. A let is allowed if the ball hits the net on an otherwise good serve: 

This makes it so that any balls that could’ve been scored as aces can still count if they wind up hitting nets first, making volleys fairer and more interesting since anything goes.

27. Players may use their racket to return the ball but must not strike at it it has touched their court:    

This might seem like a useless rule at first, but it ensures that players won’t accidentally hit the ball into their court when playing volleys and then lose them.

28. The order of serving, receiving, and ends must be changed after every odd game:    

Changing player order throughout matches makes gameplay fair because each person gets to go once in a while instead of having someone always go twice while their opponent goes once. Everyone has an equal opportunity to win sets without any unfair advantages.


These rules were created to even out gameplay so that no one player or team would have an unfair advantage over others just because of the game’s mechanics. With these rules in place, matches are fairer than otherwise, and players can enjoy them more by not worrying about arbitrary circumstances changing the outcome.