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The GIST's Guide to Tennis

Unbeknownst to the majority of ppl is that tennis is actually quite a bougee sport with roots back to 16th century France where the sport was Royalty’s fave pastime.


Anywho, tennis is a racquet sport (duh) that is played individually or in doubles. Tennis is played on a court - grass, clay or hard surface court. The point of the game is to hit the tennis ball over the net so that the opponent can’t return the ball back over the net. And, points are awarded when one player isn’t able to get the ball back over. The scoring for tennis is pretty nutty. It’s measured in individual games, then sets, then match. The score in each game is 0 (aka love...we dunno why), 15, 30, 40 (40-40 is called deuce), and advantage. We again dunno why the score goes up by intervals of 15 and then just all of a sudden randomly goes to 40.


How is it organized?

What’s great about tennis is that it can be played indoors or outdoors so that the season is all year round, with it really heating up in the summer. The Association of Tennis Professional (ATP) World Tour hosts tournaments across the world over the year (FYI, WTA is for Women’s). Tournaments are set up in a bracket format. Similar to golf, a player’s world ranking is based on how they place in ATP/WTP World Tour tournaments.

The most important tours are the ‘Grand Slam’ events, which are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. These events get the most media attention. The most prominent tournament is Wimbledon which is played in London, England every July. Wimbledon started over 125 years ago and is played on a grass surface, which makes the game move a whole lot faster. Players have to wear all white get-ups while playing. Literally #cringing thinking of all of those grass stains.


The Best of the Best

Although tennis might be old school at heart, starting in 2007, it is the only mainstream sport that pays out women and men the same $$$ in tournaments and, for the most part, gives males and females the same airtime on TV. 

Romanian Simona Halep is currently the number one female in the world. However, this is largely because the true number one, American, Serena Williams, was OOO while she was pregnant with her first baby, Alexis Ohanian

Prior to giving birth, Serena dominated the courts as the world record holder for the most Grand Slam wins across female singles and doubles play! You may also recall Serena absolutely slaying in Beyonce’s “Sorry” music video. You should also know that based on the timing of her pregnancy, that she was pregnant when she won the Australian Open. Like WHAT THE HECK!!! We can’t even run 2km when we have a food baby. 

The number one male in the world is Roger Federer (Switzerland). Federer has been touted as the best male tennis player of all time with 20 Grand Slam titles. Off the court, he’s a total gentlemen and also remarkably has 2 sets of twins!! However, there are a group of men that really are the top cheese, and they tend to flip flop between who is the alpha male. Other names to know are Andy Murray (England), Novak Djokovic (Serbia) and Rafael Nadal (Spain). 

In the past, Canada wasn’t known for producing tennis talent; however, that has changed in the current era with Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard. Raonic is currently 31st in the world, but was as high at 6th last year. The drop in ranking is mostly due to injury. In addition to having a killer serve, Raonic sports a killer hairstyle that miraculously does not move on the court. Bouchard soared onto the scene in 2013. Although the tour has been harder on her as of late, Bouchard is best known for being the first Canadian to reach the finals of a Grand Slam singles. She was ONLY 20 at the time!! Following the Rogers Cup in 2017, we’ve also been keeping a close eye on Denis Shapovalov - at the ripe age of 18, he beat Rafael Nadal (ranked #1 in tournament) in the largest upset by a Canadian tennis player in history. He’s totally lived up to the hype as he’s now ranked 23rd in the world. ATTA BOY! 


Wait, what???

Did you know that Rafael Nadal plays tennis left-handed but he’s actually naturally right-handed?? His Uncle taught him how to be a lefty so it would be an advantage on the court. Talk about foresight! 

Did you know that tennis was initially played with your hands?? We’re asking u pls try this at home and send us a vid.

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Tennis is played in a game, set, match format. First is the game. A games scoring is from 0, 15, 30 to 40 until there is a game winner. Talk about wacky scoring.


Second is the set. A set is made up of the games. They are best 2 out of 3 sets for women, and 3 out of 5 sets for men. To win a set, you have to be the first player to win 6 games and you also have to win by 2. If you don’t win by two, it goes into a 7th game tie break.


The match is the one worth all the marbles. To win a match, you have to win the majority of the sets. Again, 2 for women, 3 for men for most tournaments. 

Single games:

1 player vs 1 player. Bring it on sista.


2 players on each side of the court face off vs. each other. Normally one teammate is in charge of the front court (closest to the net) and one teammate is in charge of the backcourt (baseline).


Is used to start a point (beginning of a game). Players toss the ball decently high up in the air and try to overhand hit it at the highest point of the toss so they can get as much force behind it as they can. The ball must go over the net and onto the opposite side of the court. Then the other player tries to return it. If the ball touches the net during the serve you get a “let” and get to redo. You’re allowed 2 tries to serve so you better focus!!


The server doesn’t get their serve in the service box (hits the net, completely misses) OR their foot moves beyond the base line. That’s a no-no.

Double Fault:

The server doesn’t get their serve in twice. Womp womp. Opponent wins the point.


A serve that the opponent simply cannot even touch normally because of it’s sheer speed. STOP - Can’t touch this...duh duh duh, da da da da


Sequence of back and forth shots between two players. Starts with a serve and players rally until someone scores (the other player can’t return the ball) ending the rally.

No Mans’ Land:

The area between the service line and base line. It’s not a great place to chill because the ball’s gonna bounce in at your feet and you’re awkwardly going to try and grab it and likely be unsuccessful.

Double’s Alley:

The two strips on the far left and right of the court that is only counted as in if you’re playing doubles.


When the ref calls it out but you’re like “nah b that was certainly in” (or vice cersa). Each player gets 3 challenges per set.


Hitting the ball with your dominant hand on your dominant side. The racquet is open-faced once you hit it.


Hitting the ball with your dominant hand (or two hands!) on your non-dominant side. Similar to the backhanded compliments, this type of stroke can be sneaky.


Love stands for zero. Pretty depressing take on love, no??


Deuce occurs when it’s tied 40-40. When it’s tied 40-40, you have to play additional points because again, you have to WIN BY 2!


When it’s 40-40, and then you win next point, it’s called “advantage” because you only have to win one more point to win the game. If one player has advantage, and the other player win’s the next point, it goes back to 40-40. You can imagine that this can lead to a pretty entertaining, teeter totter end to a game!


In general, the person who is serving wins the game because having a serve is an advantage to start the rally. Breaking someone means that you win the game when it’s the other person is serving. Breakpoint is that moment when you can win the point to take the set to break your opponent.

Unforced error:

Sometimes you win a point because you did something right (high five!), but sometimes you win a point because your opponent does something wrong. This is called an unforced error. It normally consists of hitting the ball into the net, or my personal fave, a swing and a miss.


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Do the better players play singles or doubles? 

The quick and dirty answer is that the better players play singles. The difference between singles and doubles is that in singles, you don’t play with the “doubles alley” section of the court, which are the thin rectangular strips on the right and left side of the court. It’s not too much more surface area so having two people covering a court is much easier. That said, a lot of the best singles players still play doubles, like the sister duo, Venus and Serena Williams. 

What’s the difference between major tournaments and minor tournaments?

There are four major tennis tournaments on the tennis tournament circuit: the Australian Open, French Open (aka Roland Garros), Wimbledon and the US Open. A lot of the time, these major tournaments are also called Grand Slams. Otherwise, the other tournaments aren’t considered “minor”; they’re just considered as tournament. The major difference with the Grand Slams is that there’s more money on the line, so all of the best players ensure they can play. Players also collect more “points” from Grand Slams so their results in these tournaments affect their rankings more. 

Why is serving so important? 

Generally, the server has the advantage in a set. That’s why it’s a HUGE DEAL when the returning player (person without a serve) “breaks” the person with a serve.  The serve is important for a whole lotta reasons: 

  • You’re the first one to hit the ball which is so important. This is like talking first over a dating app. Such a power play.

  • With a serve, in comparison to any other strokes, you’re hitting the ball with a raquet from high above your head meaning that you can have the most power as possible. BOOM BABY.

Why is tennis so mental?

Tennis players have some of the best mental toughness of any sport. Why?! A couple of reasons. First, tennis (outside of doubles) is a one-on-one game. The players are on the court all by themselves, with no teammates to talk to, no one to talk strategy with, no one to joke around with, and no one to pick them up when they could be feeling down. Next, tennis matches are SO FKN LONG. The average length of a women’s game is just over two hours, and for men’s it’s about three and a half hours. That’s like running at least a half marathon or even a marathon ALL BY YOURSELF!!!! The heck! No TY - v happy to keep reporting on tennis and not go pro. 

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 The GIST's Guide to Wimbledon

Chip, chip cheerio gov’na, it’s the time for the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon


Wimbledon is the third (out of four) Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. The tourney is always held at the beginning of July, and this year, it’s taking place from Monday, July 2nd to the 15th. Yes, that means Wimbledon and the World Cup of Soccer are gonna be playing at the same time, so you might have some difficult decisions to make on which to watch. Oh, bollocks. Wimbledon takes place at the All England Tennis Club just outside of downtown London, England and is the only Grand Slam to be played on grass. It’s also the only tennis tournament that requires all players to wear ONLY white. Seriously, not even “off-white” is allowed. SMDH at whoever thought this grass court and white clothing combo was a good idea. We’re legit feeling anxious just thinking about all of the grass stains. Need to brush up on your tennis knowledge before watching Wimbledon? NBD, we gotchu. Check out our guide to tennis here.

WTF is it Such a Bloody Big Deal?

Wimbledon is not your average tennis tournament. Similar to Harry Potter there’s a certain element of ~magic~ about it. Here are a few reasons why Wimbledon is such a bloody big deal: 

  • Put simply, Wimbledon is old AF. Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world having started back in 1877. Because of how old it is, a lot of tennis traditions, rituals, rules and formats actually started with Wimbledon.

  • The Royals are ALWAYS in attendance, with Princess Kate Middleton being the official “royal patron” of the tennis club. And GET THIS: up until 2003, players had to bow/curtsy to any of the Royals watching. Since then, however, players only have to bow/curtsy to Lizzie (yes we’re on a nickname basis with Queen Elizabeth) and Prince Charles (we’re not there yet with Charles, but if we were, his nickname would be Chuckie).

  • Okay. So as much as this tournament seems as extra as Jonathan on Queer Eye, it’s still very much for the people. Anyone can get Wimbledon tickets through a lottery system before the tournament starts, AND there are tickets held for same-day matches, meaning that you can line up just like you do at movie theaters to get a ticket. The tickets are also not that outrageously expensive. The average ticket apparently goes for the equivalent of 100 CAD smackers. And, surprisingly, Wimbledon isn’t too uppity or stuffy like other tennis tournaments - they encourage people to take pics, wear outrageous outfits, and have reasonably priced beers. Our kinda tennis!

How’s it Organized?

Like all tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is set up in bracket formation. Basically, winner moves on, loser gets sent home. Bye, Felicia! The bracket is initially organized based on a player’s seed. A seed is determined by a player’s world ranking. But, in Grand Slam tournaments, the organizers have some ability to change seeds based on a player’s recent performance. Generally, only 32 players are given a “seed” ranking in the tournament. For really all tennis tournaments, the top players are “protected” meaning they square off against lower ranked players first. Learn more about this year’s bracket here

Another thing you need to know is that in Grand Slam tournaments the women’s tournament is best of three sets, and the men’s is best of five meaning that you have to win two or three sets respectively to win the match. Why is it different for the women and men? The true reason can’t really be pinned down, but many guess that it’s routed in history and sexism. An unfortunate classic. 

But, what IS important to note, is that thanks to tennis heroes like the OG Billie Jean King and the Williams sistas, starting in 2007 tennis became one of the only sports where women are awarded equal prize money to the men for all four major tournaments. It was a long battle to achieve pay equity, but thank goodness it finally happened. Speaking of pay, the Wimbledon 2018 champions will be walking away with the same amount $3.9M CAD. Not bad for two weeks of work, eh!?

Who You Gotta Look Out For

Sh!t is gonna be going down on the grass courts with all of the best players in attendance, but there are a handful of athletes you gotta keep a close eye on. 

Serena Williams: Hands down, Serena is the kween of the tennis court. Not only does she hold the world record for most Grand Slam wins across singles and doubles play, she’s won seven Wimbledon titles. No sweat. What’s more incredible though, is that Serena won a Grand Slam (2017 Australian Open) while she was pregnant. PREGNANT!!!! SOAK THAT IN FOR A SECOND!! Anyway. Since giving birth to the cutest baby in the world in September 2017, Serena’s ranking dropped because, um, SHE HAD A BABY, and obviously couldn’t play. What we like about Wimbledon though, is that although her WTA ranking is 181, Wimbledon is giving her the 25th seed in the tournament, making her look particularly dangerous and a favourite to win it. FYI, Serena’s long-legged sister, Venus, is the 9th seed. Talk about good genes.

Simona Halep: Now, while Serena was OOO, Halep stepped up her game and is the official number one ranked player. This Romanian just won her first Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, earlier this year so we can look at this two ways: 1) She’s on a rolllllll and will keep that momentum going into Wimbledon, or 2) She doesn’t have enough experience in Grand Slam situations to make it happen back-to-back. Either way, without a doubt, we think/hope Halep will make it into the quarters. 

Garbine Muguruza: Muguruza is the reigning Wimbledon champion and is the third seed for this year’s tournament. This Spaniard is a force to be reckoned with as she uses her height - 6ft - to get some serious powa behind her serve. 

Roger Federer: R-Fed (pls do NOT confuse him with Britney’s K-Fed) is number one in our hearts, and number one seed in the tournament. This Suisse father of two sets of identical twins (#nothankyou) is the GOAT. He’s won eight Wimbledon titles and is the reigning champ. R-Fed has dominated tennis for the last decade, only dropping from the top three rankings a handful of times, including in 2016 when he missed most of the season because of a knee injury he sustained from… drawing a bath for his twins. Gotta love fatherhood. On the court, everything Federer does is perfection, and we’re hoping this “old” 37 year-old gentleman can win his ninth. 

Rafael Nadal: Outside of this Spaniard being a notorious wedgie-picker, he’s also a notorious winner. Nadal is ranked number one in the world, but number two in this tournament. Most recently, he won his 11th French Open title since 2005. Domination station. Although he’s best known for owning clay courts thanks to his upbringing on the surface, he’s still a top contender to bring home the hardware at Wimbledon. 

Novak Djokovic:This homeboy’s last name is pronounced JOKE-O-VITCH so of course he’s inevitably known as the “The Joker”. You can never count this Serbian prince out. The former world no. 1 has won an incredible 14 tennis majors, three of them at Wimbledon. Unfortunately for The Joker though, is that the going has been tough as of late. He’s been plagued with some injury trouble and also hasn’t won a major in two years! If his poor form continues you expect that he will freak TF out of the court, similar to this clip.  


Of course, we gotta highlight our top Canadian athletes, especially because Wimbledon starts right after Canada day.

Genie Bouchard: Bouchard is our Canadian gal and is currently ranked 132 in the world. Bouchard roared onto the tennis scene about three years ago and was the first Canadian to ever reach a single finals in a Grand Slam tourney. But unfortunately, as of late, nothing’s roaring. We hope she proves us wrong, but we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a first or second round exit. 

Denis Shapovalov: AKA El-Shapo, soared onto the scene last season when he beat Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup. Since then, he’s gone “all the way up” the tennis ladder, representing the 26th seed at this tournament. This energetic kid is also only 19 years old. Excuse us?! When we were 19, a win was simply making it to a 9am class on time. 

Milos Raonic: Pronounced RAH-OH-NITCH, this guy might be our best Canadian bet at winning a Grand Slam. Yep, even more than El-Shapo. Why? He’s got one of the strongest serves in tennis, has 10 years of pro experience, was ranked no. 3 in the world back in 2016, and has perfected his hair style. His hair is literally perfect throughout the course of a two hour match. If you know what type of hair product this guy uses, please pass along the info. 


Let’s be honest, we all really like to be that person that just kills it at the trivia table. We’ll help you get there with these random facts: 

  • The signature dish at Wimbledon is strawberries and cream. This dish has been served since the inception of the tournament in 1877 and something tells us that in the middle of summer, this “treat” ends up being downright gross. Maybe time for an upgrade, Wimbledon?

  • Okay this fact is not really a fact as much as it’s hot gossip, but we find hot gossip irresistible so had to include it. The Royals that are expected to attend Wimbledon this year are Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle! That’s right. Rumour has it the American Princess will be gracing the tennis courts with her presence and we can’t wait.

  • Being selected as a ball girl or boy (those kids that collect the balls on the court) is a BFD for Wimbledon. They go through an intense selection process and then months of training just to be able to fetch balls and towels. Honestly, we think it’s prolly worth it just to get a front row seat. Learn more about the grueling process here.

Where can I watch?! 

TSN is your home for all things Wimbledon. *HOT TIP* If you don’t have cable, be sure to ask your parents for their Cable network password, and you can use that to watch TSN Live from your computer. 

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