What is an Ace in Tennis? (+ 5 More Key Tennis Terms Explained)

Wondering what an ace is in tennis?

Our quick guide is going to explain exactly what an ace is as well as teach you about some other important tennis terminology.

Tennis is becoming more and more popular all over the world these days. This is a great thing for the sport as a more global sport means more players enjoying the game, more media coverage, and a wider pool of professional players to develop from. 

However, one of the quirky things about tennis, particularly compared to other mainstream sports, is the terms and phrases used. There are some pretty strange words that tennis players throw around and don’t really give a second thought. An ace is one of these, but there are a few other key terms that someone looking to take up the sport should know!

What is An Ace in Tennis?

Let’s start with the word ‘ace’. An ace is when a player hits a serve, and the returner can’t get it back into court and doesn’t even get a racket on the ball. This means the server wins the point by just hitting their serve, done and dusted. 

A player usually manages to hit an ace using their serve speed, or direction to beat their opponent. Of course, a combination of the two is even more effective! Adding more power to your serve takes time away from your opponent, making it more difficult for them to react, get into position, and return the ball effectively. 

Alternatively, the server may prefer to place the ball out of reach of their opponent and focus on accuracy over power. This tactic is also effective and can improve your ace count. 

Players like John Isner or Ivo Karlovic tend to focus on speed to hit their aces, due to their incredibly tall frames. Whereas, Roger Federer for example is not the biggest server of all time, but focuses more on pinpoint accuracy to hit his aces. Then you have players like Nick Kyrgios who serves with power and accuracy, and throw in the odd underarm serve to keep the opponent guessing!

How to Hit More Aces

There are a few tips that can help you hit more aces in tennis. It is not just about hitting with more power all the time! 

Watch Your Opponent

One of the key things to do if you want to increase the number of aces you hit when serving is to watch your opponent. Paying attention to where they stand, what shots they prefer to hit, how far back they return, and any space they are giving you all play into hitting more aces. 

If your opponent prefers hitting their forehand when returning, they may stand further over to their backhand side, to try and get their forehand into play as much as possible. If you notice this is the case, then aiming to hit more serves to their forehand side can exploit this gap and force them to cover this part of the court to avoid getting aced again! 

If you see your opponent likes to return further back, so they have more time to take a bigger swing at the ball, you may find that taking some pace off your serve and hitting more acute angles can help increase your ace count. This is because the returner is naturally giving you more court to hit into. Whereas, if your opponent is standing closer in, upping the pace on your serve will give them little time to react and allow you to hit more aces in total. 

Focus on Rhythm 

The next way to hit more aces in tennis is to actually focus more on service rhythm than power. Doing this will help you stay relaxed, improve your consistency and ultimately make your serve more effective throughout the course of a match. 

If you put too much strain or effort into your serves, this will use up precious energy and actually slow your serve down compared to when you hit with a relaxed arm and a flowing motion.

Mix Things Up

Finally, another tip to help you hit more aces when serving in tennis is to avoid becoming too predictable. Even the fastest servers can be nullified if they are serving to the same locations time after time. It is important to change up your serve placement, pace, and spin so your opponent is never completely comfortable when returning. This will throw them off balance and allow you to hit more aces. 

If you want to improve your ability to hit aces on your serve from the comfort of your home, then check out our Secrets of the Serve online course. This is a dedicated resource to help you boost your serving power, improve your consistency and get the most out of your technique.

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5 More Key Tennis Terms You Should Know

Now we have broken down what exactly an ace is in tennis, we can take a look at some other key terminology so you know what you’re talking about on the court! 

Key Term 1:  Deuce

Another strange but important tennis term is ‘deuce’. This word refers to a game where the score is 40-40, in which a player will always be serving from the right-hand side of the court. Therefore, the right-hand side and left-hand side of the court are often referred to as the deuce and advantage sides. 

The word deuce originates from both the Latin and French words for two, harking back to the French heritage of tennis. This indicates that both players are on the same score in the game.

Key Term 2:  Double Fault

Another key tennis term that some players may find unfamiliar is the double fault. This is actually a self-explanatory phrase, which indicates that a player has missed both of their serves in a row. 

In tennis, serving players receive two opportunities to get their serve in the service box. If they miss both their first and second serve, they will automatically lose the point then and there. This is known as a double fault.

Key Term 3: Break Point

When returning an opponent’s serve, the aim is to win the game and ‘break’ the serve. Given that serving in tennis is a big advantage if a returning player can manage to win their opponent’s service game, this gives them an opportunity to get ahead on the scoreboard. 

Therefore, a ‘break point’ refers to a returning player having a game point in their favor, i.e. the returner being 40-15 up. 

The pressure is then on the serving player to save these break points and close out their own service game, otherwise, they will be presented with the difficult task of breaking their opponent back. This is why holding serve (when the serving player wins their own service game) is so important in tennis. 

In order to break serve more often in tennis matches, it is important to learn how to improve your returns. We have put together a specially designed online course dedicated to helping you improve your returns, and break your opponent’s serve more often. Our Return of Serve course offers specific guidance on return positioning, technique, and mindset to help you get the most out of your return games!

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Key Term 4:  Let

Another strange but important tennis phrase to understand if you are new to the game is the let. A let in tennis occurs when a player hits a serve that clips the top of the net but still lands inside the service box. 

This then means the server can have another serve, in most cases. There are some formats of the game when a let is considered to still be in play.  Even if the ball hits the net and drops dead into the service box, the point is still live. This can call for some pretty interesting rallies compared to when a let doesn’t count as live under traditional tennis rules.

Key Term 5: Tie Break

Finally, a tie break is a scoring format that occurs at the end of a set to decide a winner. A tie break is traditionally played as a first-to-7-point scoring format, with one player having to win by 2 clear points. 

Tie breaks have become more common in all tennis formats as they are a short, sharp way to decide a match or set, and give both players an opportunity to serve every 2 points. 

Tie breaks are usually played when a set reaches 6-6, or a tie break to 10 is sometimes played in place of a full third set.

Simple Guide to Key Tennis Terms 

Overall, there are a number of key tennis terms that are important to understand when you start taking the game a little more seriously. Hitting aces will make the game a lot easier when serving, and mixing up your serve placement, speed and spin will help you hit more aces throughout a match. 

We hope this simple guide for understanding an ace in tennis, as well as other key terms and phrases, helps you feel at home on your local tennis court!

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