Why Is Tennis Scoring So Weird? Fully Explained System

When tennis was first played in France hundreds of years ago, the symbol for scoring 0 was an egg. The French name for an egg is Le Oeuf, which then became love in English. The needle of a big clock was moved to score the game. The 15-minute mark was used to denote the first point, while the half-hour or 30-minute mark was used to signify the second point.

The clock would not stay at 45 minutes and would eventually drop to 40 minutes. If the game is tied at 40 points, you must score two shots in a row to win, thus the term deuce. The term “advantage” refers to the fact that the player just requires another point to win the game.

Billie Jean King recalled that when she initially learned about tennis, her instructor defined the point system as “15, then 30,” to which the enthusiastic and joyful student responded, “and then 45, right?” When advised that the next point would bring her to 40, King said, “Oh my goodness, what is this sport?”

Although King was not the first or last person to be perplexed by the tennis scoring system, most players actually follow the basic rules and move on, rarely questioning how the game came to be the way it is. “It was developed to induce annoyance to those who choose to play,” Andre Agassi famously said when questioned on the basis of the point names.

Related to: How to Read Tennis Scores?

No one knows when or how the terminology took hold, although there are various possibilities, some of which are more credible than others.

Figure Out Weird Scoring System

To figure out where the modern tennis scoring system originated? The game’s origins can be traced back to the 12th century. The game was played with the palms of the hands and the score was kept on a lock board because racquets were not invented until the 16th century. The minute hands-on clocks in the Middle Ages went a quarter of the way over each time: 15, 30, and finally 45.

45, on the other hand, was deduced to be 40, allowing the set to be deduced to be 50. When the game is over and the minute hand reaches the top of the clock, the game is over. Furthermore, at the time, this game was primarily played indoors, and there were no plans to popularise it until the 18th century. The game rules for the classic “Palm Game,” which is still played and integrated with the outdoor games, are created by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield of England.

The popularity of the game expanded, and main courts and a point-scoring hourglass appeared. England organized the game into a championship structure in 1877, replacing the old rules with new ones. At the time, points were still counted as 15, 30, and 40. This was the first Wimbledon Championship, which was later titled.

Number of points wonCorresponding call

According to Wilson, lawn tennis is associated with the upper classes since they can enjoy it and it has upgraded game characteristics. Even as the competition grew more intense by the day, it has become a social entertainment. It has now become a glamorous sport for people who play tennis, study tennis, and are familiar with the tennis scoring system.

Strangely, this lends it more cool factor, boldness, and elegance. In 1966, when players outnumbered spectators in American tennis, Ames Van Alen, president of the tennis hall of fame, criticized the scoring system. The story may be pondered by the International Lawn Tennis Federation, which oversees professional tennis.

Tie-Break Scoring

ScoreCorresponding Call
1 – 0One, Zero
4  – 3Four, Three
4 – 4, 5 – 5-, 6 – 6, etc.Four all, Five all, Six all, etc.
4 – 7, 10 – 8, etc.Set

Read More: 10 Point Tiebreaker in Tennis

Handicap Scoring

In handicap scoring, less skilled players are granted an extra point for a specific game. In the twenty-first century, handicapping is popular in major events as well as tournaments. Because these players have varied skills for a professional match, this scoring mechanism is used. This is done by dividing two numbers A and B by time-laps A.B for each player.

The starting score of the player is A, and the number of games in which the player gets an extra point is B. Every game would begin with a score of 15.2 for the player having a handicap of 15.2. In two of the six games in each series, the player would receive a supplemental point. As a result, they’d start two of every six games with 30 points and the other four with 15.

The R in front of these handicap rankings, which signifies that a player is collecting points, indicates that the player is gaining points. A handicap system in which the player is penalized for providing a bigger skillset is also possible, in which case the same two-number system is used. There is an “O” in front of these owing handicaps, which stands for “owed.”

Example set scoresCorresponding verbal score
1 – 0One Love
4 – 4Four all
6 – 3Game and set, six – three

Read More: How To Practice Tennis Alone?


Filling out the scorecard, which can be done on paper or digitally, is the responsibility of the chair umpire. On the scorecard, each piece of information is given, including all of the official statistics for each point, as well as whether any players have broken the game’s regulations.

Each point is labeled as follows:

/ – A won point.

A – Point gained as a result of an ace.

D – A point earned after a double-fault.

C – Point gained as a result of a code violation.

T – Point gained as a result of a time violation.

Some tennis players are becoming superstars, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators and millions of viewers via live broadcasts and the internet. Despite the scoring system, around 18 million individuals play tennis by themselves.