Doubles Tennis Rules & Tips – Be Responsible for Every Victory

'The Spirit of Teamwork - Communicate to Dominate'

Doubles Tennis Rules & Tips

There is one reason above others that I choose to play Tennis in Doubles rather than singles. As the name implies, I get to play with a partner against a pair of opponents.

Unlike some people who enjoy playing doubles with a friend or spouse for the companionship it brings, my motivation is slightly different. When I play doubles, the loss is never my fault, while each victory is thanks to me, and thanks to my own skills and abilities.

Singles vs. Doubles

To start, what is more challenging, singles or doubles? This is a very subjective topic, speaking not only on the individual prowess of yourself and your partner, or even the opponents’ skill levels, but also taking into account your ability to work together as a tandem.

In my opinion, competition is competition in the sport of tennis, but there is an obvious clear-cut difference in the dynamics of the game when competitors compete in doubles tennis.

Doubles tennis

Since there are two tennis players on a team in doubles (compared to one tennis player on a team in singles) an individual tennis player has less court to cover making it less demanding, but not necessarily less challenging than singles.

The primary objectives in singles and doubles tennis competitions are constant. Win …

  • points to win games
  • games to win sets
  • sets to win matches
  • every match and ultimately the championship in a tennis tournament

Most of the singles tennis rules and guidelines are applicable in doubles tennis, but there are a few differences. First and foremost, the court size is wider. The boundaries are extended from side to side to the doubles sidelines.

This includes the alleys between the singles and doubles sidelines on the court. Keep in mind though that the doubles tennis court boundaries are only in play after the ball is served.

Doubles Tennis Serving Rotation

Doubles Tennis

Serves rotate from team to team, but instead of a two player rotation (singles) a four player rotation (doubles) is noted and maintained throughout a set.

For instance, let’s say competitors A and B (Team 1) are playing a set against competitors X and Y (Team 2). Player B is serves first on Team 1 and Player X is serves first on Team 2. It has been determined that Team 2 is serving the first game in the set.

  • Game 1 – Player X serves
  • Game 2 – Player B serves
  • Game 3 – Player Y serves
  • Game 4 – Player A serves

The serve continues to rotate – so X, then B, then Y, then A, then back to X, then B again, etc… for the entire set. Simply put, each player rotates to serve every fourth game until the set is finalized.

Doubles Tennis Serving

In the set(s) that follow, teams can decide which player will serve first for their respective team and establish a new rotation. Strategic gameplay can come into play, but my advice is to let the best server on your team serve first. Losing an early break can be very demoralizing!

There is a slight addition to serving options in doubles in relation to singles. The server gains the area behind the alley, along the baseline between the singles and doubles sidelines.

In other words, the server in doubles tennis can choose to serve from anywhere behind and along the baseline from the center mark to the doubles sideline on the team’s end of the court.

Opt To Receive: Deuce Court or Advantage Court

Prior to gameplay, teammates must opt to receive serves in the right service court (deuce court) or left service court (advantage court). Once this is decided, each player on that team can only return serves from his or her designated service court for that set.

Switching service courts to receive serves’ is not an option until the set is over. At that point, teammates can switch service court sides to start a new set and at the beginning of each new set.

Teammates can stand anywhere on the team’s end on the court providing that the player expected to return the serve actually attempts or executes the return and not the other player. Typically, the receiver positions behind the baseline to receive serves, while the teammate positions in or along with the adjacent service court.

Doubles Tennis Rules

Don’t Speculate, Communicate

Communication is essential in doubles tennis. As the tennis ball travels from one end of the court to the other end of the court, only one competitor on that team can strike, smash, slice, lob, volley… the ball each time it is returned over the net.

For instance, if you and your teammate attempt to return the same ball and both of your racquets touch the ball, the point is awarded to the other team. However, if only one of the racquets touches the ball, gameplay continues until a team wins that point.

The game is doubles, but that does not imply that competitors must take turns striking the ball. In fact, after the serve, a competitor for a team may decide to cover the entire court and execute every return in an effort to win a point (and let’s be real, who hasn’t done this before).

Every now and then that may be necessary, but if this competitor habitually covers the entire court – expect an aggravated response from his or her teammate.

The Doubles Tennis Tie-Breaker

Doubles Tennis Tie-Breaker

Basically, singles tie-breaker scoring and guidelines are maintained in the doubles tie-breaker, but there is an exception. Similar to singles, the two-point rotation starts after the initial point is played out and the serving rotation is maintained.

The difference is that instead of two, there are four players participating in the two-point serving rotation. For example, let’s say competitors A and B (Team 1) are playing a tiebreaker against competitors X and Y (Team 2). The serving rotation is maintained above and Player X is next in line to serve.

  • Point 1 – Player X Serves
  • Point 2 – Player A Serves
  • Point 3 – Player A Serves
  • Point 4 – Player Y Serves
  • Point 5 – Player Y Serves
  • Point 6 – Player B Serves
  • Point 7 – Player B Serves
  • Point 8 – Player X Serves
  • Point 9 – Player X Serves

This rotation continues until a team wins the tie-breaker. To win the tie-breaker and finalize the set, a team must score a minimum of seven points combined with a two-point advantage. Possible tie-breaker scoring results for the winning team could be 7-1, 7-5, 8-6, 14-12, 21-19, etc.

Alternative Doubles Competition

Mixed Doubles – The term ‘Mixed’ refers to the gender of the competitors. The rules and guidelines remain intact as stated, but there is a condition. One male and one female are the conditional members of each team.

Canadian Doubles – This alternative of doubles requires three players. This is a two-on-one competition. In other words, this is doubles vs. singles. One side of the court has two players and the other side of the court has one player.

Canadian Doubles tennis

The doubles players’ boundaries is the singles court, while the singles players boundaries are the doubles court. Three sets are played and each player must play singles in at least one set. This is tennis with a twist, but the typical tennis rules and guidelines are enforced.

The championship is determined by the singles player who wins the majority of combined games played in the match.

Australian Doubles – Similar to Canadian Doubles, but there are a couple of differences. Australian Doubles is still doubles vs. singles, however, the singles player always serves and players rotate positions on the court after every game giving all players an opportunity to play singles every third game.

The scoring rules are not etched in stone. Since this is considered an unsanctioned style of tennis, scoring can be determined prior to gameplay by tournament officials, coaches in practice, and at times the players participating in a pick-up game.

Typically, many adopt the Canadian Doubles guidelines (most combined games are won by a singles player) to determine a winner.

Another common method is to determine a specific point value for each game. For instance, let’s say a game is worth 4 points. If the singles player wins, he or she gains 4 points for that game. If the doubles players win, each player on that team split points, gaining 2 points a piece.

Tennis is considered the ‘sport for a lifetime’.This is brilliantly stated and credited to the United States Tennis Association in a captivating slogan, aimed at promoting tennis as a lifelong recreational and competitive sport.

Spectators admire its electrifying nature while tennis athletes relish the competition. Yes, the fast-paced energetic action in double tennis competition compliments the dynamics of the sport as it is stimulating to watch and no doubt a blast to play.

So whether you’re playing doubles with a friend, remember to have fun and MOST important, the loss is NEVER your fault, but the wins BELONG to you. Now go out there, and have some fun!


What is the court size for doubles tennis?

The court size for doubles tennis measures 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for doubles matches.

Can players from the same team stand anywhere on their side of the court?

Yes, players from the same team can stand anywhere on their side of the court as long as they do not hinder their opponents or violate any rules.

Can a player reach over the net to hit the ball in doubles tennis?

No, a player cannot reach over the net to hit the ball in doubles tennis. Players must hit the ball on their own side of the net.

Is there any specific order in which the players on a doubles team should hit the ball?

There is no specific order in which the players on a doubles team should hit the ball. They can decide amongst themselves who will hit the ball.

What happens if a player unintentionally touches the net during play in doubles tennis?

If a player unintentionally touches the net during play in doubles tennis and it does not affect the point, it is generally not considered a violation. However, if it does affect the point, the opponents will be awarded the point.

Are there any specific strategies or tips for success in doubles tennis?

Yes, some strategies and tips for success in doubles tennis include effective communication with your partner, utilizing teamwork and coordination, playing aggressive net play, and using strategic positioning to cover the court efficiently.