New to the game of tennis? Our Tennis Explained series will quickly bring you up to speed with all you need to know to fully enjoy the sport. We start here with the basics of the game itself.

From January to December, there is no lack of action on the Hologic WTA Tour. How are the tournaments structured? How do players spend their days at these events? Here's everything you need to know. 

How do players decide which tournaments to enter?

A number of factors go into a player’s schedule on the Hologic WTA Tour.

The first consideration is whether a player’s ranking will earn them a place in either the main draw or the tournament’s qualifying draw. Other factors include rankings points and prize money on offer. With all things being relatively equal, players can then choose their destination based on which city they would prefer to play in.

How many levels of tournaments are there?

There are four levels of tournaments -- three on the WTA Tour, plus the Grand Slams.

The WTA Tour includes 250, 500 and 1000-level events -- the categories denoting the number of rankings points awarded to the champion. Grand Slams award 2,000 points to the winner.

What are the different surfaces players compete on? How is the nature of the game different on each surface?

Tour events span hard courts, clay courts and grass courts.

Hard courts are generally a more neutral surface. Clay courts, with their slower and higher bounces, lead to longer baseline rallies. Grass courts, with lower and faster bounces, often produce quicker points.

Even within each surface, court conditions can differ from tournament to tournament. You will often hear players discussing the changes in speeds as they travel from event to event. 


Learn the game

How is a game scored within a match?

Don’t be alarmed when, after one point, a player leads 15/0. It’s not as big a lead as it sounds.

Within a match, each individual game is played first to four points, win by two. But rather than counting points as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, the scoring system uses Love, 15, 30, 40, Game.

The server’s score is always first. For example, if the server has won two points and the returner has earned one, the score would be 30/15.

If both players are tied at 40/40, the score is called “deuce,” and a player must win two points in a row to claim the game. The player who wins the “deuce” point earns the “advantage” and then has an opportunity to win the next point and close out the game -- or lose it and face another deuce.

How many games does it take to win a set?

A set is played to six games, win by two. If a set is knotted at 6-6, a tiebreak is played.

How does a tiebreak work?

A tiebreak is played to seven points, win by two. The players alternate serving, with one player beginning the tie-break by serving one point, followed by two serves each the rest of the way.