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Baylor Tennis: A Beginner’s Guide

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A not-so-speedy mini manual on the game

BaylorProud

Hi everyone! My name is Noelle and if you came here from #BaylorTwitter, you might have seen me and my dad jumping around and yelling at our TV while watching Baylor Football games this past season. I’m brand new to ODB and it seems like Baylor Women’s and Men’s Tennis teams are as well, so why not collectively gather around for a quick introduction to the world of Williams and Federer?

Of course we all love to celebrate the successes of Women’s and Men’s Basketball, Football, A&T, Volleyball, etc., but did you know Baylor’s tennis teams are damn good too? The Women’s team—led by 20th-season head coach Joey Scrivano—has won 19 combined Big 12 Championships in regular season and tournament play and advanced as far as the NCAA Final Four in 2008 and 2011.

After taking the helm as Men’s Tennis interim coach from 2020-2021, Michael Woodson was named head coach in May 2021 and guided the team to their all-time record for wins in a single season and their first No. 1 ranking since 2005. The Men have notched 24 Big 12 titles, were national finalists in 2005 and 2021, and won the National Championship in 2004.

Tennis can be a wildly exciting sport to watch (and play for those athletic types) and the rules aren’t that difficult to follow.

Equipment wise, there are two objects tennis players need to play the game: a racket and a tennis ball. I’m no expert on the specificities of why players use certain rackets or how they need to be strung, so I’ll leave those tools at face value.

The athletes also have clothes and shoes designed for the game, but those depend on teams’, players’, and coaches’ preferences.

Let’s look at the tennis court:

Tennis Uni

The court, as perfectly illustrated above, is divided in half by a short net and features five boxes on each side. The two small sections labeled ‘Service Box’ on either side of the net are where players can serve the ball into. The larger boxes that take up the other half of the court is where players can hit the ball post-serve. The court is also sectioned into sidelines that the athletes can play within if they’re in a singles or doubles matchup. The singles sideline thins the court and the doubles sideline takes up the entirety of it, so aforementioned players hitting alone or in pairs challenge in those parameters.

And the scoring system:

Tennis scoring can be broken up into four parts—

Point: 0-4 from Love-Game (including a fun You throwback for my fellow Netflix watchers)

  • 0 is Love
  • 1 is 15
  • 2 is 30
  • 3 is 40
  • 4 is Game

Game: consists of four points if the winning player has a 2-point advantage

Set: won when a winning player takes 6 games and has a 2-game advantage (ex: 6-4)

Match: usually consists of 3 or 5 sets and won when a player or team earns the majority

Tiebreaks:

  • If both athletes win 6 games in one set, they must play a tiebreak. The players must participate in a 7-point challenge switching sides after each service point made and the winner must score at least 7 points if they win by 2 points (ex: 7-5). If the tiebreaker takes place in the final set of the match, the players play until one person reaches 10 points, but still must win by 2.

Now for the rules:

For singles play

When a player serves the ball, it must land within the opponents’ opposing service box. For example, if MT junior Adrian “Adi” Boitan is standing in the area where the ‘Baseline’ is labeled, he must serve the ball to the right service box. If he were to the right of the ‘Center Mark,’ he would serve into the left service box.

He has two attempts to serve the ball into said box. If he serves and it bounces off the net onto the opponent’s side, it’s called a “let” and he would serve again starting with one.

If the ball doesn’t get into the service box upon first serve, it’s called a “fault.” However, if he serves twice and the ball doesn’t make it over the net or it travels outside of the proper service box, he “double faults” and the opponent earns a point.

Singles players can only play within the singles sideline and if the ball crosses the line and enters into the doubles sideline, the opposing athlete earns a point.

For doubles play

Doubles tennis can be composed of two single sex players or opposing sex players (what is known as mixed doubles), but college tennis is only made up of the former. Mixed doubles takes place in Grand Slam tournaments and World Team Tennis.

Doubles play has almost the same rules as singles, except the ball can land within the realm of the entire court rather than solely in the thinner singles sideline.

For BOTH singles and doubles play

  • The server must call their score followed by their opponents’ one before serving the ball (ex: love, 30 for 0-2)
  • Service starts on the right of the court and alternates after every point
  • The players alternate serving after each game
  • Players’ rackets and bodies can’t touch the net at any point of the match
  • The tennis ball can only bounce once between hits and if it double bounces, the point is over
  • Even if the ball lands within the court and bounces out of bounds, it’s still in play

Tennis is a wonderful sport to watch and Baylor has some of the best coaches, athletes, and facilities in the country.

If you’re in Waco, I highly recommend showing up to support the men on Friday in their doubleheader against Louisiana at 12 pm and Abilene Christian at 6 pm and the women on January 28 during the ITA kickoff weekend. If you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away (like me), follow along their Live Scoring and Live Video sections on baylorbears.com and follow the Women’s and Men’s teams on Twitter!