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Tony Lee's Professional Tennis School

The ABC of Tennis


Advantage - What members of the royal family have in getting tickets to Wimbledon

Ambidextrous - Renee Richards

Amateur - A player who is identifiable by his repeated assertions that he receives no financial assistance from any source whatsoever. Virtually extinct.

Australia - Sixty and more years ago players would travel months by ship to go there to play a few sets in the Davis Cup. This cultural nirvana is now considered too far away even for Australian players, most of whom live in the US.


Backhand - Invented by K. Rosewall in the middle of the 19th century. Original still in use.

Ballboys - Groups of small children paid by players to distract opponents.

Beer - Basis of the Australian junior training programme.

Baseline - Two inch wide mark at the rear of the court. Said to contain hypnotic qualities giving double vision to players and umpires.


Choke - Colloquial (slang) term for state of extreme nervousness. To tighten up in the game, to lose rhythm. Can lead to the player losing his advantage, and usually the match. This phenomenon has been known to affect linesman who make adverse calls, and umpires who confirm them.

Crowd - Thousands of ordinary people paying dearly to sit close together and move their heads from side to side in unison during a match.



Dink - Taken between games by children to restore fluid balance.

Deuce - The French contribution to Lawn Tennis


Excuses - Haven't played for weeks. Sore arm. Hangover. Bad light. Bad Balls. Too hot. Too cold. The best excuses should precede the game. Any utterance after a loss is considered an excuse.


Finger - Found in a group along the arm. Sometimes given to linesman or umpires.

Flushing Meadow - Part of La Guardia Airport, New York. Used once a year for the U.S. Open

Racquet frameFrame - Racquet excluding strung area. Often used by novice players to strike the ball


Gamesmanship - Little known until the recent past. Became an art form through the dedication and creative energies of a Romanian duo in the '60s. Until then limited to stoppage of play to tighten up a shoelace or accidentally spilling a glass of Robertson's Barley Water on an opponent's racquet during change of ends. Can be profitable.


Hacker - term for a low quality player. Used extensively by ex Australian player, and now commentator, who has said 'losing to a hacker hacks me off!'. When he is not playing or commentating tennis, Stolle is studying to become a literary giant.


In - Judgement passed when the ball is on the line.


Just out - An opponent's call meaning just in.


"Knock-up" (English) (Aust) - Warm up period before a match commences when players either attempt to intimidate each other by an awesome display of shots or each disguises his actual talent by bumbling returns either out of play or into net. (U.S.A.) Has a totally different meaning.


Linesman - A deaf and blind person who sits in a chair on the court to mark the position of various lines.


Margaret Court- Australia's greatest-ever woman's player. Became so famous that the playing surface was named after her.


Net - The amount left after a player has paid his expenses.


Out - Judgement passed by opponent when the ball is on the line.


Passing Shot - Nasty comment made as opponents change ends.

Poacher - Player who encroaches onto partner's side of net intent on keeping all the game to himself. Some players poach without licence or approval. If the game ends in defeat a poacher is immersed in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.


Queue - Line of spectators seeking entry to tournament; "Far Queue", a term sometimes directed at tournament officials who decline to reverse bad line calls.


Robbed - Another term for having lost a match.


Slice - Percentage taken by managers.


Tank - Place where officials look for players who should have won easily but instead lose convincingly. Use of this term not approved by the A.T.P.


Umpire - Official who keeps score during a match. Duties include provoking players by confirming bad linecalls.


Wives - Sometimes travel on the circuit so their husbands won't be bored playing matches, practicing, drinking with friends, sightseeing, being lavishly entertained by wealthy divorcees or groped by hordes of enthusiastic young and beautiful women.

Winner - A shot which beats an opponent. A player who hits sufficient winners usually is one. Consistent winners can be recognised by massive muscular development of the forearm hand from habitually collecting prize money.


XXXX Beer. The secret of Pat Rafter's success.


Yefgeny Kefelnikov - Popular player in Australia due to his wit and charm and rapport with the Aussies.


Zvereva, Natasha - Famous for getting so excited over a great shot that she spontaneously showed her colourful tennis bra to the crowd at the 1995 Australian Open.


modified from The World's Best Tennis Book Ever

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