The sport tennis
Tennis is a racket sport. It is played on a court of roughly 24 by 11 meters. The players take position on opposite sites of a low net and use their rackets to send balls towards their opponent. It is played either 1 vs 1 (singles) or 2 vs 2 (doubles). Tennis on Wikipedia
This game however is not a sport, nor does it have anything to do with returning balls to the other player. You are merely a manager who trains his players and sends them to the tournaments he thinks they will profit most from.
Tennis is played on professional level all around the world, mostly in knockout tournaments which means that you play on as long as you don't lose untill only one player remains. The most notable tournaments are the four "Grand Slam" tournaments held yearly in Australia, France, England and the USA. You can find a lot of information about the men's professional tour at the ATP website.
This game does not use names of real tennis players, any possible coincidence in names is purely accidental. The singles and doubles entry ranking system do follow the rules of the ATP and the major tournaments and challengers follow the real professional tennis calendar.
Tennis Match Scoring
A tennis match follows a relatively complicated scoring system.
The smallest scoring elements are called points. One player starts by bring the ball in the game (serving). The players keep returning the ball to the other side until either the ball lands outside the court (fault) or is not returned by the opponent (winner).
During a game, one of the player serves each point and the other player receives.
The player that wins the point goes to 15-0, then 30-0, 40-0 and the next point wins the game. You need to have at least two points difference to win a game though. If the game goes to 40-40 it's called Deuce and after that it's either Deuce (tie), Advantage (serving player is one point from winning the game) or Disadvantage (receiving player is one point from winning).
After the game, the service goes to the other player, regardless of who won.
Serving in a game gives a distinct advantage so that the pressure is on the player serving to win the game. If the serving player always wins, the match stays even. If the receiving player wins then he takes an important advantage in the match. Winning a game on the service of the opponent is called a "break". A point that can result in a break is called a "breakpoint".
The first player to win 6 or more games wins the set, but he must have at least 2 games more than the opponent. This means he must have at least one "break" more than his opponent. If the set stays even till 6-6 then the players must play a tiebreak.
A tiebreak is like a game, but now the players alternate service. First one player serves one point, then the other serves two, then the first serves two and so on untill one player has more 7 or more points and at least two more than his opponent. This player wins the set with 7/6. In some important tournaments there is no tiebreak in the decisive set. Such set can in theory last forever if no player ever takes a 2 game lead.
A match usually is a best of 3 sets, which means that the first player to win 2 sets wins the match. In the prestigious "Grand Slam" tournaments, a match consist of at most 5 sets.
Most professional doubles matches are played with a slight variations to the rules:
- No deuce/advantage: at 40-40 in a game, the winner of the next point wins the game
- Instead of a third set there is a match tiebreak. This is like a regular tiebreak, but till at least 10 points (and at least two points difference)
Doubles matches of five sets, or matches in Grand Slams are played by the normal singles rules.
Most tennis tournaments are "knockout" or "single elimination" tournaments, which means that when a player loses he is immediately eliminated.
The last player standing is the winner of the tournament. When only two players remain, they play the finals, the last four players play the semi-finals and the last eight play the quarter-finals.
Most regular tournaments allow 32 participants. In this case the winner is known after 5 rounds.
To allow more players a chance to participate. One or more qualification rounds are played before the tournament starts. Winners of these rounds can earn a place in the main draw when their ranking is not high enough to qualify direcly.
In the game abbreviations are often used to indicate rounds:
WIN: tournament winner
RUP: losing finalist
F: finalist (when the final is not yet played)
SF: semi finalist
QF: quarter finalist
1ST-4TH: 1st to 4th round (only used for rounds with more than 8 remaining players, so the 3rd round would actually be called QF in tournaments with 32 players)
Q2: second qualification round
Q1: first qualification round
To encourage the top players to play each other on a regular basis, some tournaments are given a special status. These tournaments are more important for the ranking and give more prize money to the winners. They also usually allow more players to participate and thus have more rounds.
The most "important" tournaments in tennis are the "Grand Slams". These are the Australian Open, Roland Garros (or French Open), Wimbledon and the US Open. Grand Slams all have a main draw of 128 players for singles and 64 for doubles and take 7 rounds for singles and 6 for doubles.
Below the grand slams, there are 9 "master" tournaments during the year. Most of them allow 64 participants for singles and 32 for doubles.
The rest of the major tournaments are tournaments of the "International Series". In this category there is the distinction between the regular and the "gold" tournaments, where winners of the latter are awarded with more prize money and ranking points.
For the lower ranking players there are the "Challenger" and the "Futures" tournaments. The "Futures" are the lowest level of professional tennis. Top players of this level can move to the "Challenger" tournaments and from there move to the major tournaments.
Players are ranked based on their achievements in the past 52 weeks. The ranking is called the "entry" ranking because it is used as the main criterium for deciding which players are allowed to participate (enter) in a certain tournament.
The ranking is cumulative, you can only win points. You only lose the points you got for a tournament when this tournament becomes older than 52 weeks.
The ranking is in principle simple the sum of the best N tournaments. The more important a tournament is, the more points you can win in this tournament.
For the singles ranking, the best 18 results in the past year count. But if your rating qualified you to participate in a Grand Slam or Masters tournament you MUST count this tournament for your ranking even if you did not actually play it (in which case it counts as 0 points). Players whose rating was not high enough for direct placement can count another tournament in its place.
For the doubles entry ranking, the best 14 results can be counted. It doesn't matter which tournaments these were, so it's not obligatory to join the doubles masters tournaments though these tournaments do give more points than the lower level tournaments.
In the game there are two more rankings, namely the Junior Singles ranking and the Junior Doubles Ranking. These are made up and are simply the best 10 results on junior tournaments.
Tennis is played on four very different type of surfaces. These all have their own characteristics which results in players being significantly stronger on one court than on another. Only very few players are strong on all different surfaces.
The main surfaces are "clay" and "hardcourt" as the bulk of the tournaments is played on either of these two surfaces. When it is too cold, "indoor" (usually carpet) courts are used. The fourth surface is grass, which is the surface of Wimbledon, the oldest tennis championship. Apart of wimbledon there are only a few tournaments played on grass each year and they are all played a few weeks from each other.