The server alternates serving from the two halves of the court. In both a standard game, and tie-break game, the server begins by serving from the right half of the court. The serve must pass over the net and hit the service court that is diagonally opposite the server, before the receiver may return it.
The players, or teams, stand on opposite sides of the court. The server is the one who puts the ball into play for the first point. The receiver is the player who is ready to return the ball put into play by the server.
Whichever team is due to receive in the first game must decide which partner will receive the first point of the game. For the second point, the other partner will receive and this rotation will happen for the rest of the game and the set. When the other team receives serve in the second game this same pattern will happen; the team decides who receives first and who receives second and this rotation will happen for the rest of the game and the set. Bear in mind that after the receiver has returned the ball, either player can hit the ball.
In competitive play, one player of a doubles team is not allowed to play alone against opponents.
Singles: After each game the receiver then becomes the server.
Doubles: The team that is due to serve in the 1st game of each set decides which player will serve for that game. In the second game of each set the opponents get to decide which player will serve first. The partner of the player who served in the 1st game then serves in the 3rd game. The partner of the player who served in the 2nd game then serves in the 4th game and this rotation continues until the end of the set.
Players change sides of the court at the end of the first, third and then every odd game of each set. Players change sides at the end of each set, unless the score of the games is even. If the set score is even for that set, then players change sides at the end of the first game of the next set. During a tie-break, players change ends after every 6 points.
The choice of ends, and who serves, happens before the match begins. This is decided by a toss before the warm-up begins. The player (or team) who wins the coin toss (or spin of the racket) may choose one of the following options:
- To serve or be the receiver for the 1st game of the match, in which case the opponent gets to choose which end to play on.
- The end of the court for the 1st game of the match, in which case the opponent gets to choose whether to serve or receive.
- To require the opponent to make one of the above choices
There are different methods to scoring in a set; the two main methods are the “Tie-break Set” and the “Advantage Set”.
The “Advantage Set”
The first player (or team) to win six games wins the set. However there must be a margin of two games. If necessary the set continues until there is a margin of two games.
The “Tie-break Set”
The first player (or team) to win six games wins the set. However there must be a margin of two games. If the set score becomes 6 – 6, a tie-break game must be played.
During a tie-break game, the points are scored “zero”, “1”, “2”, “3”, etc. The first player (or team) to win seven points wins the game, and set. However there must be a margin of two points over the opponent. The tie-break game continues until this margin of two points occurs.
In a standard game the score is called using the following termonology:
No point – “Love”
First point – “15”
Second point – “30”
Third point – “40”
Fourth point – “Game”
When calling the points, the server’s score is always called first. If each player has scored three points the score is called “Deuce” (instead of 40 – 40). After “Deuce”, the winner of the next point has a score of “Advantage”. If the same player subsequently wins the next point, that player has won the game. If the same player loses the subsequent point, the score goes back to “Deuce”. A player (or team) needs to wind two consecutive points after “Deuce” to win the game.