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Playing Within the Lines

by Ariana D’Avanzo

Before even thinking about stepping onto a tennis court, you must first know the surface you’re playing on. The lines of a tennis court give structure to the match and aid the player in setting up accurate, precise shots.

The two base lines are the shorter of the four lines that make up the boundaries of the court. These lines are 36 feet long and are where the player will stand to serve. On the base line is a small tic mark that determines the half-way point of the court.

That tic line splits the court into two sides: the deuce (the right side) and the add (the left side). These two sides will be explained later when we discuss scoring. For now, just keep in mind to stay to the right side of the half way line when serving on the deuce side and vice versa, and to not cross the base line.

There are two sets of lines that run along the vertical side of the court, each line 78 feet long. When playing singles matches, the singles lines represent the boundary. These are farther in then the other set, known as doubles sidelines.

The space between the doubles and the singles sidelines is called the alleyway, which is 4.5 feet wide and is only used when playing doubles. A hit that is placed down the line and lands in the alleyway is called an alley shot.

The service line is 18 feet in front of the baseline and 21 feet from the net. It serves as the boundary for the service boxes and is the line that tends to be where a doubles player will stand when they are playing the net position.

The two service boxes that are created by this line is where the players serve is suppose to bounce first. When serving, the player will hit the ball to the opposite side of the court but inside the service box. All serves must be hit in their designated box in order to be playable.

One thing to keep in mind when playing a match: if a ball bounces on a sideline, it is considered to be in – so when your opponent asks “line,” they’re asking if the shot was in or out.

Once you get the hang of tennis, it is not a difficult sport to pursue. Learning the lines and their meanings is only one step in becoming a well-rounded tennis player.