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GLOSSARY OF TENNIS TERMS

Ace: an unreturnable serve winning the point. Ace is recorded when the player serves the ball which isn’t touched by the opponent’s racquet. John Isner, Milos Raonic and Io Karlovic are the best ace hitters today.

Angled crosscourt (offensive stroke): a crosscourt with extra spin imparted to it. Sidespin, as a rule. Play based on sharp-angled short crosscourts have become widely spread today. This is one of the latest and most dangerous shots. One of the best masters of such crosscourt shots is Novak Djokovic.

АТР: men's tour, to put it simply. Association of Tennis Professionals – international organization which unites tennis male professionals. The Association organizes the series of professional worldwide tournaments (pro tour) which are played all year around; interestingly enough, Grand Slam events do not fall under the auspices of the ATP.

Backhand: a stroke hit from the left (from the right by the lefthanders). It can by either one-handed (hit with one hand) or two-handed (hit with two hands). The back of the hand precedes the palm. Also suggest reading our article on the backhand different types.

Baseline play: tennis strategy (or some of its elements) when the player runs along the baseline. The baseliner usually has good defending abilities and can hit the ball back to the opponent’s side of the court. This strategy requires good techniques and reliable footwork. It’s especially popular among Spanish players and representatives of Latin America. Very efficient on slow courts.

courtBaseline, halfcourt, net. Conventionally, the court is subdivided into three parts, starting from its end. Its farthest end is called a baseline. Half court is a middle zone of the court, where the serving line is drawn. Net is a zone on either sides of the court just in front of the net.

Break point: a point which is won by the receiver may result in his winning the game on his opponent’s serve. It arises when the score is 0:40, 15:40, 30:40 or 40:А.

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Crosscourt shot, reverse crosscourt shot

Crosscourt shot:  a stroke played diagonally across the court.

Reverse crosscourt shot: a crosscourt stroke hit in response. Usually, the players gripping the racquets with the same hands (lefties and righties correspondingly) hit backhand for backhand or forehand for forehand.

Drop shot: a shot travelling along the short trajectory and landing just over the net on the opposite side of the court. Bounce in this case is low. A drop shot may be hit either with a volley or after the ball bounces on court. More often it is performed at the net, but some players may execute it from the baseline. Jerzy Janowicz is a big fan of short drop shots performed on the baseline.

Flat: high-speed shot with a little topspin. Some additional velocity is added, but lack of spin increases the error chances.   

Forehand: a stroke hit from the right (or from the left by the lefthanders) with the hand facing the opposing player.

Half-court play: hitting balls from the half-court. It’s not very difficult to send the balls to the centre of the court, or half-court, which is very secure to execute as the chances to have long balls are miserable. From the other point of view, balls aimed to the half-court are very easy to handle and enable the opponent to make an attack.

Hitter: a player whose favorite shot is a forceful flat stroke. Most of them belong to the American school. Powerful forehands and backhands are supplemented by an excellent service play. 

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Lob: passing shot hit high above the net against the player who is up at the net. One of the variations of passing shots. It is also used to force the opposing player to get back to the baseline. Half volley lob is another widely used term. In this case the ball is hit on the rise. The half volley lob became prominent in the hands of the defending players, mostly representing the mentioned above Latin and Spanish tennis schools.  

Net play: in this case the player standing at the net strikes the ball before it lands, i.e. it makes no bounce on his own side of the court. These shots are called volleys (meaning flight in French) – a shot made before the ball bounces on the ground. The players of old generation (Federer, for example) are considered to be masters of the play at the net.

Passing shot: a type of shots made to pass by the opponent at the net. It has become popular very recently to fight the serve and volley style. Many young players are good masters of it, and the best is probably Rafael Nadal. This is one of the reasons for his domination over Federer, noted for his fine serve and volley tactics.

Serve and volley: a combination of serve and fast movement towards the net. In other words, the player serves the ball and then runs forwards to the net to hit a volley. Ivo Karlovic is a notable example of this style. Marin Cilic has recently brought it almost to perfection.

Server: a player possessing very strong and reliable serve. This term is more of a sleng rather than a professional one. It is closely related to an ace. In the nearest past the strategy of winning points due to the powerful serve was very popular. Consequently, the players with a powerful service play were on top (mostly the representatives of the American school). Do you remember Andy Roddick? Vivid example of good servers.

Service (serve): a shot made to start a point.

FedererSlice: a backspin or underspin shot. It’s a useful defensive weapon working as follows. The ball is sliced so that it loses its energy and travels in a flat trajectory. As a result, it takes the ball longer to make a bounce on the opposing side of the court.  Slice shots help the plyer performing it to buy himslef a little time to get back into hitting position in the centre of the baseline. This shot is created from the backhand and at times it is used by the players who have troubles in performing a conventional backhand. Good example is Milos Raonic who perfers to make slice backhands.

Smash: overhead stroke. It’s executed in a serve manner and is hit hit above the player’s head usually before the ball bounces. Generally smashes are created against  unsuccesful lobs or half-lobs.

Spin: topspin, sidespin

Ball rotation. The ball maybe rotated in horizontal (topspin) and vertical planes (sidespin). The topspin shot makes the ball’s flight trajectroy more curving and consequently the ball bounces higher and if the rotation is strong enough, it can be called a half-lob. If sidespin is imparted on the ball, the shot becomes beating out and after the bounce it goes aside due to its forceful rotation. 

Tiebreak: additional game played in some scoring formats with 6:6 on scoreboard. A player winning a tiebreak takes a set 7:6. It’s necessary to win 7 points in the tiebreak or make a difference of two points over the opponent if the score happens to be 6:6 again. The players serve alternately for two consecutive points except fot the first ball kickking off. In that case a plyer serves once. We can see a tiebreak game on fast courts when it’s more difficult to break the opponent’s serve or when two servers face off each other.

WTA. Logically enough, it’s an abbreviation for the Women’s Tennis Association. It is a body governing the series of eite tournaments in women’s professional tennis. It was founded in 1973 by the American tennis player Billy Jean-King.

And in the very final one hitter illustrating how to break through Nadal’s defence

 


Relevant articles:
FOREHAND AND BACKHAND SHOTS IN MODERN TENNIS


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