Tennis Scoring?

Yeah I have a problem…I don’t understand how you tell the score!

and how you would say it aloud!

please help!

tennis dummy

OK, I’ll do the first part.

“Love” in tennis scoring has little to do with affection. It is the phonetic English version of the French “L’Oeuf (short for “le oeuf”)”, which means “the egg”. It refers to the shape of the number zero (0).

Next poster to serve.

I’ll return the 40:

For whatever reason, tennis is scored by 15’s. Eventually, 45 was shortened to 40, just to make it easier to call out.

I think that the verbal scoring is along the lines of “30 serving 40”. Once the score is 40-40, the score becomes “deuce”. When a player scores next, it’s called “Advantage ‘Smith’”. If Smith’s opponent scores next, it’s back to deuce, and if Smith scores again, it’s game.

Each time you win a volley, you get 15 points. (When I started playing, you said “45” instead of “40” – it changed to the latter as a form of shorthand.) Sixty points is game.

You always give the score of the server first. Thus “love-15” is different than “15-love.”

If the two players tie at 40-40, it’s called “deuce,” probably because someone had to win two in a row to win the game. After the next point, it’s “advantage in” or “advantage out,” depending on if the server wins the point (“advantage in” – though nowadays, they often say “advantage Smith”). “Advantage” probably derives from the fact that the person winning the point only had to win the next one to win the game, giving him a strong advantage. If your opponent has the advantage and you score the next point, it’s “deuce” again. In the old days, a game could go on a long time before someone won.

A “set” is a series of games; the first person to win six games wins the set. But you had to win by two games (i.e., 6-5 was no good). Again, in the old days, a set could last indefinitely (15-13, for example), but once TV started broadcasting they set up a tiebreaker. When reporting the score, you say the score of the server first.

A “match” is made up of three sets (women) or five sets (men). Thus, a tennis score would read “Smith beat Jones 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1” Smith’s score always comes first for each set, though it varies as the sets are being played.

Here’s Cecil’s response:

Why is tennis scoring so weird?


Hmm, strange. I’ve heard the same explanation as Coldfire many times (probably why Cecil says it’s a common misconception). But thing is, Cecil says the game originated in France, whereas I have heard it originated in Egypt. There is a radio program in Canada that has been running since 1982 on CBC Radio stations across Canada (though it started out in Calgary). It’s concept is similar to Cecil’s column, though it’s more for interest sake then for entertainment (why I prefer Cecil). Anyway, in their first book, the first question is this one.

From That’s A Good Question 1989

They also give the same explanation for “Love”, as well as say “Deuce” is also an anglacized French term (originally deux a, meaning “Two to go”).
As far as the scoring system goes, the explanation in That’s A Good Question is that a new dial-clock system was placed at each end of the court. So each person’s clock was advanced 15 minutes for each point. Later the 45 was shortened to 40 because it was shorter and easier to say.

So now I’m confused. I’m used to depending on Cecil and the That’s A Good Question books. They usually agree.

Sorry, I meant they give the same explanation for “Love” as Coldfire.