On the eve of Wimbledon – my favourite sporting event of the year – it seems fitting to write a blog about tennis.
Like any sport, tennis has its own lingo but rather than focus on the common terminology, I thought I’d dig around a bit to find some of the lesser-known terms associated with the game.
I was surprised by how many tennis terms I’d never heard of before, let alone used in my playing days. And what struck me in particular was how many of them have a food connection!
So, now you can talk like a tennis pro by brushing up with this glossary of terms.
Alley: the area of the court between the singles and doubles sidelines, also known as the tramlines
Bagel: a colloquial term for winning/losing a set 6-0 (the shape of the zero being reminiscent of a bagel’s round shape)
Blue collar tennis: when a player is under pressure in a match and needs to work extra hard to win points
Breadstick: a colloquial term for winning/losing a set 6-1 (the shape of the ‘one’ supposedly reminiscent of a breadstick)
Brutaliser: smashing the ball directly at the opponent
Can opener: a serve hit by a right-handed player with slice, landing on or near the intersection of the singles tramline and service line in the deuce court (advantage court for a left-handed player)
Dedans: an open gallery for spectators at the server’s end of a real tennis court
Daisy cutter: a low shot that skids or takes a very low bounce, usually due to adding slice
Dink shot: a soft dipping shot that just clears the net, often used in doubles, especially on return of serve
Dinner set: ‘awarded’ to a player who’s achieved a career Grand Slam and a runner-up finish at each of the four Grand Slam tournaments
Dirtballer: a clay court specialist
Donut: alternative for bagel
Double/treble bagel: winning two/three sets to love
Egg: when the ball is struck high enough to obscure its visibility
Ghost in to the net: to approach the net from the baseline while the opponent is busy retrieving a ball and therefore distracted
Golden set: a set of tennis that is won without dropping a single point
Grinder: another name for a baseline player
Hail Mary: an extremely high lob, used for defensive purposes when out of position
Jam: to hit the ball straight into the opponent’s body, forcing an awkward or weak return
Junk ball: a random slow and/or flat shot, designed to upset the rhythm of the game
Moon ball: a very high lob mixed into a baseline exchange, primarily used to change the tempo
Paint the lines: to hit shots that land as close to the lines as possible
Puddler: a player who hits a lot of chip shots and drop shots
Sledgehammer: a two-handed backhand winner down the line
Spank: to hit a groundstroke flat but with a lot of pace
Stopper: a player who won’t win or go far in a tournament but is good enough to knock out a top seed
Throat: the thin area of a racquet handle, where it meets the head
Trampolining: striking a ball flat with a racquet strung at a very loose tension, resulting in a shot with extremely high velocity
Tree: someone who is playing much better than normal
And here’s a bonus fact for you. Tennis is the only sport that uses love for zero. It’s believed to come from the French word l’oeuf (egg) and was used because an egg’s shape is similar to zero (0).
(image via under Creative Commons)