Beach Tennis Rules (According to the ITF): Scoring, How-To-Play, …

Beach tennis is a fun and engaging sport. This game is played by both the young and the old, and it is easy to learn. However, to enjoy the sport, it’s important that, at least, you have an idea about the rules, equipment needed, as well as, how to keep score. That’s why we made this guide!

Beach Tennis rules and scoring system are almost similar to that of tennis, only that the sport has no-advantage scoring, no service let, nor second serves. Also, unlike tennis, if the ball touches the ground, the point is over.

Besides tennis, the sport has many influences from beach volleyball, as well as, badminton. Several beach tennis rules borrow a lot from these three sports. Like those sports, beach tennis can be played as a competitive game or just for recreation. Besides, it can be played as singles or doubles, but the latter is usually preferred.

To get a head start, we recommended checking this Beach Tennis clip from the ITF. (It’s from several years ago, but it’s still quite relevant) .

Video Source: ITF Beach Tennis / YouTube

If you are interested in learning how to play beach tennis, you will need to know its rules. Below are standard rules and practices of beach tennis, as stipulated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the International Federation of Beach Tennis (IFTB).

Beach Tennis Scoring

The way you keep score in beach tennis is quite similar to that of tennis, with a few exceptions, for instance, the sport uses a no-advantage system after 40 all. Also, there is no service let, or second serve.

Sets

A beach tennis match is usually played either up to 7 (or 9) games, or to the best of three sets. In the latter, a player or team needs to win at least two sets to be declared the winner.

If the match is played to the best of three sets, the first team/player to win six games will win the set, as long as, the player or team is leading by at least two games.

  • If the score is tied at 5-5, the set will go up to 7 games.
  • If the score is leveled at six games, then a six points tie-breaker is played.

If the match is played up to first to 7 (or 9) games, the winner is decided by the side that wins 7 (or 9) games, and that leads by at least 2 games. But if the score is 6 (or 8) games all, then a tie-break is played.

Games

  • Just like tennis, a game score goes by as 0 (love), 15, 30, 40, and game.
  • A no-ad scoring system is used – If both sides have reached deuce (have scored three points each), then the side that scores the next point will win the game.

How to Score Points on Beach Tennis

A point is awarded to a player/team if any of the following happens:

  • If the ball touches the opponents’ court.
  • If the opponent side hits the ball outside the boundaries of the court. Note that if the ball hits the boundary line, it’s considered in.
  • If the opponents hit the ball into the net and/or post. (Keep in mind that if the ball hits the net and goes over, the ball is considered in play.)
  • If the opponent team/player intentionally distracts them/her, while hitting the ball.

Also, if a player/team hits the ball on the net, and the ball passes over to the other side and touches the ground within the boundaries of the court, then they get the point.

A player is prohibited from hitting the ball while invading the opponent’s court.

Beach Tennis Court

  • Beach Tennis is played on a court similar to that of beach volleyball.
  • The court is supposed to be a rectangle, measuring 16 meters long and 8 meters wide. The court for single is a bit narrower measuring 4.5 meters.
    Net
  • The court is divided into two equal parts by a net which is raised to a minimum height of 1.7 meters. For adult games, the net can be raised up to 1.8 meters.
  • The net height cannot be changed once the game has already started. Besides this, it should have small mesh to ensure the ball cannot pass through it. The permanent systems on the court are stakes, net, rope, and/or lines.

Equipment Needed for Beach Tennis

To play beach tennis, besides the court, you’ll need balls and rackets.

Balls

Initially, players were allowed to use green dotted (stage 1) balls, but nowadays, stage 2 (orange) balls are preferred; mainly because of their lower compression, which allows for longer rallies.

Racquets

  • The recommend racket for beach tennis should have a maximum length of 21.65 inches (55 cm).
  • Likewise, the maximum width of the racquet should be 11.8 inches (30 cm).
  • Besides this, the racquet should have a flat, but perforated (small holes), surface with no strings.

Note that players are not allowed to use more than one racquet at the same time. Players are allowed to change the playing characteristics of their rackets, during the game, unless it is prohibited by the tournament organizers.

Playing Beach Tennis 101

Beach tennis is predominantly a doubles game. Though rare, singles can be played on a narrower court.

Server and Receiver

As with many racquet sports, players must stand opposite of each other on their respective courts. The server is the player who starts the point, while the returner is the opposing player, who returns the serve. Before the start of the point, both sides, need to be ready and take their respective positions.

Toss

To decide which side starts serving or receiving, a toss is made before the start of the game. The side who wins the toss shall decide whether to serve, receive or the side of the court they want to start on. This means that the other team/player (loser of the toss) will have to choose between the remaining options.

Serving rules

Both, overarm and underarm serves, are allowed, however, during mixed doubles, male players must hit an underarm serve, below the waist. Moreover, any of the receiving players may return the serve.

After the end of each game, the receiver becomes the new server and vice versa. Keep in mind that the same player must serve during each game (even in doubles). Teammates are not allowed to alternate serves during the same game.

The serving player must not touch the lines while serving; therefore, players must always serve outside the baseline. Otherwise, it’s considered a foot fault, and the serving side losses the point. (Note that there are no second serves).

Also, a server losses the point if he hits the ball out, on the net, or at the post. As stated earlier, if a player serves and the ball hits the net, and the ball goes over inside the court, the point continues.

Changing Ends

At the end of the first, third, and after every odd game, the players should change ends. They, also, should change ends after the end of each set, as long as the total number of games is an odd number. When a tie-break is played, players should change ends after the first point, and, then, after every four points.

Since the game is played outdoors, It’s important to change ends because, depending on the side of the court, the sun can affect a player’s vision (even if they’re using sunglasses).

Let

A let, which means that the point should be replayed, might be called during the following circumstances:

  • If the ball is damaged during a rally.
  • When a member of the receiving side is not ready when the ball is being served.
  • If one of the court lines is broken or unattached when the point is going on.

Role of Match Officials

For games with referees, his or her decision is usually final. All competitive and professional matches must be controlled by appointed match officials and referees.

Ongoing Changes

Keep in mind that Beach tennis is a fairly young sport that is still developing; as a result, changes and updates to the rules might happen in the future. To stay updated with the current rules and practices, please check the ITF Beach Tennis website.

In closing

If you enjoy the beach, sun, and racquet sports, then you should definitely give Beach Tennis a try. There are many benefits to playing this sport. It offers an excellent opportunity to exercise, while, probably, making new friends during a nice summer day.

Whether you’re playing it competitively or recreationally, it’s important that you understand and stick to the common rules and practices, so you can truly enjoy the game.