A guide to tennis jargon: Top 15 things to know

I look forward to watching the Wimbledon tennis match on TV every year. In my family, playing badminton on a weekly basis was common in lieu of a community tennis court. For this reason, my family is naturally inclined to invite over friends to play badminton and watch tennis matches.

Of course, not everyone is a seasoned tennis fan. After decades of watching tennis on TV with friends, I have an idea of which tennis terms beginners need to know.

However, some online guides to tennis definitions are several pages in length. Having so much data to sort through can be overwhelming to the amateur spectator. In order to get started, a few basic terms can help you organize your ears and start understanding the commentary you are listening to.

Five basic tennis terms

Naturally, a tennis game is called a match and it is played on a court. When you are watching tennis, there will be two or four players on the court. Two players are singles and four players are doubles. However, you may hear about an advantage set.

In an advantage set, two players will go against each other because they have won six upper-level games in the past. Wimbledon, the French Open, the Davis Cup and the Australian Open are all annual advantage set games. This group of tennis match winners is showcased to see who is No. 1.

Four tennis jargon terms about games, styles, and return moves

In general, you will be watching a game between two people called singles. Singles is basically a term that means there will only be two people playing in the tennis game. After the ball is hit or served, it can be returned by the other player in a few ways. Primarily, a slice means that the ball was served with an under-spin or a side-spin.

Secondly, a smash is similar to a slam-dunk in basketball. A smash also makes the ball non-returnable by the other player. In a reflex volley, it means that the player has returned the ball over the net but didn't have time to think out how to hit the ball.

Three tennis terms about lost points

Of course, not every tennis match has return moves. Some of the tennis terms about not returning the ball that was served are the ace, return ace, and touch. Touch is easy to keep track of because it means you lose the point if the player touches the net. Ace is when the ball is not returned by the player that it was served to. In other words, they missed the shot.

The ace often touches an area that the player has a hard time controlling near the foul areas of the side and back court. You will also hear a lot about a return ace. In tennis, this means that the player served a ball to another player. They hit the ball to return it to the server, but the original server did not hit the ball.

Strange tennis jargon about the scores

When it comes to the world of tennis, the way scores are kept can be a bit strange. For example, the tennis jargon for a score of 6 to zero is called a bagel. When no one has any score after the ball has been served several times, it is called love. In other words, a 0-0 score is a love—and to finally get a point after a long period of love is to break love.

One last tennis term that you need to know

Above all, the best tennis term you will need to listen out for is the dive. In their video clip posting about spectacular tennis shots, Sports Illustrated highlights the dive over and over again. Although there are other terms that are associated with the dive shots, they are fairly easy to understand right away. For example, the behind-the-back dive and the dive volley.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Updated Monday, May 23, 2011