Origins of the Tennis Scoring System

The weekend just gone I went up to Cambridge to see my old man and my cuz Tim, we had a round-robin game of tennis for about 2 hours. It was only the 2nd time in my life I played and now I’d like to play some more.

We were wondering how the scoring system originated. This is what I found:

“The rules of the new game of lawn tennis were drawn up by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1875. Scoring derived from real, or royal, tennis, which had its origins in medieval cathedral cloisters. The name comes from the French habit of calling out tenez! (take this!) before serving. In real tennis, each exchange was worth 15 points, the score of 40 being an abbreviation for 45.

“In the beginning, both rackets and tennis scoring were used for lawn tennis. With rackets scoring, a game comprised 15 aces, which could be won only by the server who remained “hand in” until the loss of a rally. Tennis scoring was adopted for the first Wimbledon Championships in 1877 and became the standard.

“The origins of the 15, 30, 40 and so on are not known, but have medieval and French roots. One possible explanation is that the scoring system is based on the presence of a clock face at the end of the tennis court. A quarter move of the appropriate hand was made after each rest, with the score being called as 15, 30, or 45 as the case might be. As the hand was moved to 60, making the complete circuit, this was the game.

“The term “deuce” is derived from the French “deux”, an advantage of two points having to be gained. “Love” is generally taken as being derived from the French “l”oeuf”, the egg, symbolising nothing.”

Not the most comprehensive, but there you have it.

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One thought on “Origins of the Tennis Scoring System”

  1. Good to know, have been wondering for a while, shame you can’t make it this wknd for the rematch!!
    take it easy cuz

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