What Does “Ad” Mean In Tennis?


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01: The U.S.A Sofia Kenin wins the 2020 Australian Open after beating Garbine Muguruza (not seen) of Spain 2-1 to claim the first grand slam title in her career in Melbourne, Australia on February 01, 2020. (Photo by Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Don’t come at us, tennis devotees — but the racquet sport’s scoring system is kind of inexplicable. Love? Deuce? Break point? Some tennis terms don’t even sound like complete words. Looking at you, “ad”! But while the word may sound silly, the term ad in tennis actually has a relatively straightforward meaning.

What Does Ad Mean In Tennis?

In tennis, ad means “advantage.” (OK, so what does “advantage” mean in tennis?)

This term is used only when a game is tied 40-all — meaning, each player has scored three times, otherwise known as deuce — and a player must then score two consecutive points in order to win. A player gains the advantage when they’ve scored once, because they only need one more point to win, while their opponent would need to score twice.

Outside of professional tennis, the term “ad” is also used in a few variations, depending on whether or not the player with the advantage is also the server at the time. Let’s say you’re serving when you get the advantage — you could say, “ad in” or “my ad.” If the opposite happens, and your opponent gets the advantage on your serve, this would be called “ad out” or “your ad.”

Either way, if the player without the advantage scores next, the score returns to 40-40 (aka, deuce), and play continues until someone scores twice in a row. As you can imagine, this can take a long time, especially at the elite level.

One other time you might hear the word “ad” in tennis is in the term “ad court” or “advantage court.” This refers to the left side of the court, from the point of view of the player or team receiving service. The right side is called a “deuce court.” That’s because deuce points all start on the right side of the court, while ad points start on the left.

Oh, tennis — we don’t always understand you, but we love you!

—Additional reporting by Mirel Zaman

Amanda Prahl is a freelance writer, playwright/lyricist, dramaturg, teacher, and copywriter/editor. Amanda has also contributed to Slate, Bustle, Mic, The Mary Sue, and others.

Mirel Zaman is the health and fitness director at POPSUGAR. She has nearly 15 years of experience working in the health and wellness space, writing and editing articles about fitness, general health, mental health, relationships and sex, food and nutrition, astrology, spirituality, family and parenting, culture, and news.

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