How to Score the Game of Tennis


Often tennis professionals are asked how to keep score in the game of tennis. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. The explanation provided below may prove useful.


In the game of tennis – points make up a game, games make up a set, and sets make up a match.



A point is scored when someone makes an error, hits past the opponent, or forces the opponent to make the error. The points are scored in this manner:

0 = Love

1st point = 15

2nd point = 30

3rd point = 40

4th point = Game

In scoring, the server’s points are always given first. For example: If the server wins the first point the score would be 15-Love. If the receiver should win the first point, the score would be Love-15.



The most difficult part of scoring in tennis is the game. Points make up a game. The first person to win 4 points (by a margin of two or more) is the winner of the game. The unusual thing about the game is what happens if the score becomes 3 points all (tied at 40-40). At that time the score would be “deuce”. The next point won after deuce would be one of the players “advantage” or “add”. It might be stated “your add”, or more formally stated “advantage, Mr. Smith”. Some players might say “add-in” if it is the server’s advantage, or “add-out” if it is the receiver’s advantage. All of these methods are acceptable means of calling the score in an advantage situation.


The next point won after someone’s “add” would either be “game” or “deuce” again. Deuce, add-in, deuce, add-out can go on indefinitely until someone wins by a margin of two or more points.


Let’s run through a hypothetical game:

Smith – server; Ryan – Receiving

Ryan wins the first point: love – 15

Smith wins the second point: 15 – all

Smith wins the third point: 30 – 15

Smith wins the forth point: 40 – 15

*Ryan wins the fifth point: 40 – 30

Ryan wins the sixth point: deuce

Ryan wins the seventh point: Ryan’s add, or add-out, or advantage Ryan

Smith wins the eight point: deuce

Smith wins the ninth point: Smith’s add, or add-in

Smith wins tenth point: Smith wins the game (finally!)

*Had Smith won either this point or the next one, he would have won the game.



A set is completed when one of the players wins six games by a margin of two or more games. Therefore, the score could be 6 – 2, or 6 – 3, or 6 – 4, but not 6 – 5, It could be 7 – 5 (because a player won by a margin of two games). Should the score go to 6 games – all, a tiebreaker would be played to determine the winner of the set.



A match can consist of:

  1. The best 2 out of 3 sets (the most common).
  2. The best 3 out of 5 sets (same is used in major tournaments such as U.S. Open and Wimbledon).
  3. The first to win 10 games (a pro set).



The tiebreaker is played if the players reach 6 games – all. The next player to serve (player A) will serve the first point from the right hand (forehand) court. The next two points will be served by player B beginning from the left hand (backhand) court, then the right (forehand) court. The forth and fifth points will be served by player A, beginning with the left court, then the right court. The sixth and seventh points will be served by player B, beginning with the left (backhand) court, again. This goes on indefinitely until either player wins 7 points, by a margin of 2 or more. It is possible for the score to be as high as 21-19, because a player must win by two points or more to win the tiebreaker! One final note: After each six points of the tiebreaker, the players should switch ends of the court. 


The best way to learn the way to score a match is to sit down in front of the television while a major tournament is on. Try to give the score along with the announcers.


Authored by Dean Snyder, USPTA; Farmington Hills, MI