If you’re new to tennis then it’s worth taking some time to understanding the dimensions and layout of a tennis court. I’m a firm believer that this type of knowledge helps instill confidence in new players and it’s a great opportunity to introduce the idea that tennis is a sport of angles.
Beyond that, I think it’s fun to introduce players to some of the intricacies of the sport, which many players tend to appreciate.
Tennis Court Dimensions & Layout
In total, tennis courts measure 78 ft. x 36 ft. or 2,808 sq. ft., however the full area of the court is only used for doubles matches. The singles court measures 78 ft. x 27 ft. or 2,106 sq. ft. Every court is composed of quite a few elements, so let’s take a look at each individual component.
Here’s a diagram that you can use as a point of reference as we cover each part of the court.
The Lines of a Tennis Court
Baseline: Doubles 36 feet / Singles 27 feet
The baseline runs parallel to the net and defines the furthest boundary or back of the court from the net on both sides. It’s typically where you will hit most of your groundstrokes (forehands and backhands) and the approximate location you’ll return serves from. Any shot (other than the serve) that lands beyond this line is considered out.
Center Mark: 4 inches long
The center mark divides the baseline in half and runs perpendicular to the net. It’s defines the point you cannot cross when hitting a serve in both the deuce and ad court. In general, it’s a great point of reference when playing tennis as you’ll find coaches telling you to always return to the center of the baseline after you hit a groundstroke.
Service Line: 27 feet wide
The service line runs parallel to the net and marks the halfway point between the net and the baseline. It also marks the end of the service boxes, however unlike the baseline it only extends to the singles sidelines. Any serve that lands beyond this line in the court is considered out.
Center Service Line: 42 feet long (21 feet long on each side of the court)
The center service line runs perpendicular to the net and meets the service line to create two equal sized service boxes.
Singles Sidelines: 39 feet long
The singles sidelines also run perpendicular to the net and define the side boundaries of the court for singles matches.
Doubles Sidelines: 39 feet long
A few feet outside of the singles side lines are the doubles sidelines. These sidelines run perpendicular to the net and define the side boundaries of the court for doubles matches.
The Areas of a Tennis Court
Left & Right Service Box: 21 feet x 13.5 feet (283.5 square feet)
The two equal sized boxes created by the center service are the left and right service boxes.
Doubles Alley: 39 feet x 4.5 feet (175.5 square feet)
The space created between the singles and doubles sidelines is called the doubles alley.
No Mans Land: 18 feet x 27 feet (486 square feet)
If you’re new to tennis you’ll probably hear someone yell, “Get out of no mans land,” more times than you care for. This is the largest box on the court that falls between the service line and the baseline. Typically you want to avoid standing in this area because you’ll be too close to hit a groundstroke and to far to hit a solid volley.
Additional Elements of a Tennis Court
The Net: 42 feet x 3.5 feet high at the post (3 feet high at the center)
The net splits a tennis court in half and runs directly through the middle of the court. A white strap measuring 2 inches wide in the center of the net is used to control the height and is faceted to the ground. Tennis nets should be mesh that is small enough so that a tennis ball can’t pass through, and the top of the net should have a white band measuring 2-2.5 inches in depth.
Helpful tip: keep a retractable measuring tape in your tennis bag and measure the height of the net prior to playing. There are enough variables in tennis already, so I always urge my players to make sure they control the factors that they can whenever they step on the court.
Net Posts: 3.5 feet tall and no more than 6 inches wide
On most courts net posts will fall 3 feet outside of the doubles sideline directly at the middle of the court. Some courts have the ability to install a singles net, and on these courts the net posts would fall 3 feet outside of the singles side lines. The posts shouldn’t be any more than 6 inches wide.
Singles Sticks: 3.5 feet tall and no more than 3 inches wide
If you’re playing singles on a court with a doubles net installed then two sticks should be used to prop the net up 3 feet outside of each singles sideline. In many cases courts won’t have singles stick and many competitive matches in high school and college are played without them. However, whenever you watch professional tennis you’ll notice the sticks are always installed for singles matches.
Well, there you have it! You should now be a master of the dimensions and layout of a tennis court. Make sure you share with friends and teammates and heck, now you have some cool little tidbits of knowledge for your next cocktail party.
Have questions about tennis courts? Let me know in the comments below – I’d be happy to help out.
(Photo Credit: Johnny Lucas)