top of page

Anyone for Tennis ? - How to discuss and follow a tennis match in English

Tennis lovers enjoy one of the Grand Slam Tournaments of the year here in Wimbledon, London.

Together with Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta, and The Ashes, Wimbledon is one of the regular summer events we have in London. When you think of Wimbledon, you picture strawberries and cream, great tennis and the reliable British weather !

I have many clients who enjoy watching tennis. Some of them stayed with me during the Wimbledon season and found it hard to follow the television commentary or to simply discuss a match in English with my husband, a tennis lover. They didn’t have the tennis vocabulary in English.

So I thought I’d dedicate this post to all my clients and English Language Learners who share a love for tennis by sharing a list of 10 key words you’ll need to follow and discuss a match in English.

1. Ace - a winning serve which the receiver fails to touch with his or her racket.

Ex : Andy Murray won the match thanks to having served 10 aces.

2. Backhand - a stroke in which the ball struck on the opposite side of the body to the racquet hand.

Ex : If your opponent is right-handed and has a weak backhand, you must hit the ball to his/her left if you can.

3. Break Point - a point which will result in a break of service if it’s won by the receiver.

Ex : Federer has break point. He is 30-40 up. If he wins the point, he wins the championship.

4. Deuce - a score of 40 - 40, after which a player must win two consecutive points to win the game.

Ex : It’s deuce on Nadal’s serve. He is two points from victory.

5. Double Fault - two faults served in a row, resulting in the server losing the point.

Ex : After serving a fault, my second serve was slower to avoid a double fault.

6. Drop Shot - a gentle shot that just drops over the net.

Ex : Serena played a perfect drop shot that took her opponent by complete surprise.

7. Forehand - a shot hit from the racket-arm side of the body.

Ex : Nadal has a very strong forehand, so it is best to play to his backhand.

8. Groundstroke - a shot hit from the back court after the ball has bounced.

Ex : Djokovic is hitting fantastic groundstrokes and has got his opponent on the run.

9. Rally - a long series of shots

Ex : The longest rally in the match went on for 22 shots before Federer put it away with a perfect volley.

10. Volley - a shot on which the ball is hit before it bounces.

Ex : Volleys can be hard to control, so you need to have a strong wrist.

Did you know ?

The “zero" in tennis (only) scores is known as "love”. It comes from the French word “oeuf”, meaning egg. It was used because the egg’s round shape resembles the figure zero (0).

Tennis Idioms used in everyday life :

the ball is in your court - it’s your decision or responsibility to do something

Ex : I’ve done all I can. The ball is in their court now.

get into the full swing - to be comfortable doing something after some time

Ex : It will probably take me a month in the job before I get into the full swing of things.

Do you play tennis ? Do you enjoy watching tennis ? Will you be watching Wimbledon ?

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please share it.

Ciao for now


Shanthi Streat

Graduated in Politics and International Studies from the University of Southampton, UK in 1989. After 20 years in the world of Finance in such varied fields as life assurance, stockbroking, fund management, and wealth management, she decided to re-train as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Trainer. She studied for the CELTA at International House, London in 2009 and has since been a freelance English Trainer both offline and online.

Source: English Club

bottom of page