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How to Play Real Tennis

The Court


The court is a cross between Lawn Tennis and Squash. The Playing area is surrounded by four walls, three of which are joined to a sloping roof called the Penthouse. The court is divided into two halves, the Service End (from which the service always takes place) and the receiving, or Hazard End. Players may hit the ball off any surface providing the ball crosses the net before it bounces. At Hatfield, anything above the blue line at the top of the court is out of play.



The scoring in Real Tennis is basically the same as for Lawn Tennis i.e. 15, 30, 40, Deuce, Advantage, Game. A set is won by the first player to win 6 games with 6-5 being a completed set. Unlike in Lawn Tennis, the score of the player winning the previous point is always called first.




The Server puts the ball into play by serving up onto the side Penthouse Roof. The ball must make contact with the Penthouse at least once between the centre line and the join between the back and side Penthouses. The ball must then land on the floor within the red area in the back half of the court, which is divided by a further red line.



Once the ball is in play it is live until it enters an opening, goes out of play, or bounces on the floor for a second time. Players can win points in the following ways:

by hitting the ball into one of the three winning openings:

by hitting the ball onto the winning area of the floor at the Hazard End on the second bounce

by forcing one's opponent to make an error by either hitting the ball out of play or hitting the ball into the net

by winning a chase




In a game of Real Tennis, players must earn the right to serve. They can do this by making the ball bounce twice anywhere at the Service End and in the front half of the Hazard End. Once the ball has bounced twice, a point is not conceded but a Chase has been "laid". Chases can also be laid by hitting the ball into the Side Galleries at either end. The players then change ends* and the chase is played off.

Players can only change ends if there are 2 chases, or if there is 1 chase and one of the players has a game point i.e. 40-15. A chase is basically one point played in two halves. The first half of the point is Player B laying the chase and the second half is Player A trying to beat the chase, once they have changed ends.



Player A serves to player B. Player B returns the ball and Player A misses it completely. The 2nd bounce lands on the 6 yard line and so "Chase 6" is called. The players now change ends and Player B now serves to Player A. To win the point Player A must get his 2nd bounce nearer the back wall than the 6 yard line. If he fails to do this Player B will win the point. It's a challenge! Who can get their ball closest to the back wall on the 2nd bounce. Once the chase or chases have been decided, play returns to normal with the new receiver having once again to earn the right to serve.

Official Laws of Tennis:


Click here to view the official laws of tennis from the T&RA (Tennis & Rackets Association) website.

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