Basically, tennis is a game with two or four players divided equally on two halves of a court having a net stretched across its width. The players decide who is to "serve" first. The server will serve on his/her half of the tennis court to the opponent(s) until the game is won by at least 2 points (points are "love" (zero), 15, 30, 40). If a game is tied at 40-40, it is called, "deuce"; the server continues until one side has won by two points (the player winning the next point from deuce is said to have the "advantage"; "ad(vantage) in" if it is the server or "ad(vantage) out" if it is the opponent; if the other player/team wins the point, then the score reverts to "deuce"). When the game is completed, the opponent becomes the server; this cycle repeats until a "set" is won, which is at least 6 games won by at least 2 games. If a 3-set match is being played, then the person/team winning 2-out-of-3 sets is the winner; if a 5-set match is being played, then the person/team winning 3-out-of-5 sets is the winner.
There are variations in the way the game is played, both among amateurs and professionals, and there are special rules concerning where the ball is allowed to land, changing ends during a match, changing the balls during a match, "tiebreaker" scoring, et al. Such details are too long and involved to be printed, here; instead, view the links, below, for further information.
== == == == Improving your game
You hit awesome shots during practice, but mess up those very same shots during a match. What is going on? Why does this happen? A match means that there is a specific desire result involved. This can cause nervousness. When something is on the "record" our competitive nature kicks in and adrenaline rises. If we aren't 100% confident in our shots, concerned about our opponent, or are focused too much on the final score, then are muscles can tighten up. These factors can lead to missed shots. When you hit great shots during practice, stop and take a moment to record this information in your mind. Think about how loose and strong your muscles felt during the shot. Focus on your footwork. Connect a positive experience with the shot. Spend a few moments each day to visualize hitting great tennis shots. Remember how it felt to hit those shots successfully during practice. Realize that nerves will play a factor during match play. If you miss your backhand, don't automatically assume that you can't hit any more good backhands during the match. Take time between points to fiddle with your racquet strings. Breathe deeply and remember how it felt to successfully hit that shot in practice. Removed the missed shot from your mind by focusing on the upcoming point.
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