All sports, and tennis is no different, have some sort of scoring system to determine a winner and loser. To keep score in tennis, you must first understand that a tennis match consists of three main elements -- points, games and sets. Points are scored to win games, games make up a set and you must win two out of three sets or, in some professional tournaments, three out of five sets, to win the match. Scoring can be confusing, but once you learn the scoring rules for each element, you’ll have a better understanding of how to keep score.
Keeping Score in a Game
Points are scored when a player hits an outright winner, makes an error or forces his opponent to make an error. If you have no score or a zero score, this is referred to as "love." The first point scored is "15," the second is "30," the third is "40" and the fourth point scored is "game." To win the game a player must be leading by two or more points. So, if the score in a game is tied after the third point -- 40-40 or "deuce" -- the next point scored is an advantage to the player scoring the point and is referred to as "advantage" or simply "ad." This is because if the same player wins the next point, he has a two-point lead and wins the game. If it's the server's advantage, it's referred to as "ad-in" and if it's the receiver's advantage, it's "ad-out."
Alternate Game-Scoring Method
A match that uses "ad-in" and "ad-out" scoring could go on for some time until one player wins two consecutive points. To help reduce the length of matches, "no-ad" scoring can be used. Points are scored within the game as usual, but when the score is tied at 40-40 or "deuce," only one more point is played. The winner of this point wins the game.
Keeping Score in a Set
The first player to win six games, with a margin of two or more games, wins the set. For example, a score of 6-4 wins the set, but not a score of 6-5. If the game score within the set is tied at six games, a 12-point tiebreaker is played to determine the winner of the set.
Scoring the Tiebreaker
Instead of the game-scoring method of 15, 30, 40 and game, a tiebreaker is scored with points 0, 1, 2, 3 and so on. To win the tiebreaker you must win seven points and be leading by two or more points. If you win seven points and are not leading by two points, you continue to play until you or your opponent has a two-point lead. Sample tiebreaker scores are 7-1, 7-5 or 10-8.
Alternate Match Format
A 10-point match tiebreaker is sometimes used as the final set when you and your opponent have each won a set in a two-out-of-three-set match, or two sets in a three-out-of-five-set match. The points are scored 1, 2, 3 and so on and the first player to win 10 points and be leading by two wins the match tiebreaker and the match.