Understanding Wheelchair Tennis Rules: A Comprehensive Guide

Wheelchair tennis is an adaptive and inclusive sport that allows people with physical disabilities to participate and excel in competitive tennis. Governed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), wheelchair tennis follows specific rules and regulations to ensure fair play and exciting matches. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to wheelchair tennis rules, offering valuable insights into how the game is played and the adaptations made for players using wheelchairs.

  1. Wheelchair Tennis Rules: Court Dimensions and Equipment

The dimensions of a wheelchair tennis court are the same as a standard tennis court, measuring 78 feet in length and 27 feet in width for singles matches, and 36 feet in width for doubles matches. The net height remains the same, standing at 3 feet at the center.

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September 04, 2018 – Wheelchair tennis player Dana Mathewson with writer Erin Maher during the 2018 US Open.

Players use sports wheelchairs designed to enhance mobility and stability while playing. These wheelchairs have unique features, such as anti-tip wheels, cambered wheels for better balance, and strapping systems to secure the players during intense movements.

  1. Serving:

The wheelchair tennis serve follows similar principles to the able-bodied game, where players must serve diagonally over the net to the opponent’s service box. The server must keep at least one wheel in contact with the ground during the service motion. Failure to do so results in a fault.

  1. Ball Bounce Rule:

The Ball Bounce Rule in wheelchair tennis is a fundamental adaptation that accounts for the players’ mobility constraints while ensuring an engaging and competitive game. Unlike traditional tennis, where players must return the ball before it bounces twice, wheelchair tennis players have the advantage of an additional bounce, making the game more accessible and thrilling for participants and spectators alike.

First Bounce Within the Boundaries of the Court:

After the opponent’s shot, the wheelchair tennis player must allow the ball to bounce once within the boundaries of the court. This rule ensures that players have ample time to position themselves for a well-executed shot. The first bounce within the court provides an opportunity for strategic maneuvering and adds an element of anticipation to the game.

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Second Bounce Can Occur Outside the Court:

The second bounce in wheelchair tennis is unique and sets the sport apart from standard tennis. Unlike the one-bounce rule in traditional tennis, the wheelchair tennis player can let the ball bounce twice, with the second bounce occurring outside the court’s boundaries. This adaptation is crucial for wheelchair players, as it allows them to retrieve and return balls that may otherwise be considered out in regular tennis. The second bounce outside the court enables players to utilize the entire court space effectively, enhancing the tactical aspects of the game.

Impact on Gameplay:

The Ball Bounce Rule significantly influences the pace and rhythm of wheelchair tennis matches. Players must not only anticipate the ball’s trajectory but also adjust their positioning and shot selection accordingly. This rule encourages wheelchair tennis players to develop strategic skills and adapt their playing styles based on the court surface and their opponent’s tactics.

Leveling the Playing Field:

By allowing an extra bounce, the Ball Bounce Rule helps level the playing field for wheelchair tennis players of varying abilities. It provides players with more time to react to the ball, particularly those who have limited mobility or may need to adjust their chair position to hit the ball effectively. As a result, wheelchair tennis becomes a sport where skill and strategy take precedence over physical limitations.

Wheelchair Tennis Rules

In conclusion, the Ball Bounce Rule in wheelchair tennis exemplifies the sport’s commitment to inclusivity and adaptability. By allowing the ball to bounce twice, with the second bounce outside the court’s boundaries, wheelchair tennis creates a dynamic and exciting playing environment for athletes with physical disabilities. This rule not only accommodates the players’ unique needs but also fosters a competitive and enjoyable experience, making wheelchair tennis a truly remarkable and admired sport in the realm of adaptive athletics.

  1. Wheelchair Tennis Scoring:

In wheelchair tennis, the scoring system closely mirrors that of traditional tennis, employing the familiar terminology of 15, 30, and 40 for each point earned. However, there are some distinctive features that set wheelchair tennis scoring apart and add to the excitement of the game.

Points System:

Similar to regular tennis, players earn points progressively during each game. The first point won is referred to as “15,” the second as “30,” and the third as “40.” If a player wins the next point after reaching “40,” they secure the game point and win the game. If both players or teams reach “40,” it results in a “deuce.”

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Deuce and Advantage:

When the score reaches “deuce,” it indicates a tie, and both players must win two consecutive points to secure the game. The first player or team to gain an additional point after “deuce” is said to have the “advantage.” If the player with the advantage wins the next point, they win the game. However, if the player without the advantage wins the next point, the score returns to “deuce.”

Winning a Set:

To win a set in wheelchair tennis, a player or team must be the first to win six games, provided they have a lead of at least two games over their opponent. For example, a player could win a set with a score of 6-4 or 7-5. If the set reaches a 6-6 tie, a tie-breaker is employed to determine the set winner.

Tie-Breaker Rule:

In wheelchair tennis, a tie-breaker is used to decide the outcome of a set that reaches a 6-6 score. During the tie-breaker, players take turns serving just one point each. The player who wins seven points and has a two-point lead clinches the tie-breaker and the set. The tie-breaker score is often represented as, for example, “7-6(5),” where “7” signifies the winning player’s points, “6” represents the opponent’s points, and “(5)” indicates the number of points the tie-breaker was won by.

Winning the Match:

To win the overall match, players in wheelchair tennis must triumph in two out of three sets (best-of-three sets format). The player or team that wins two sets out of three emerges as the match winner. If a player wins the first tw

  1. Let Rule:

The let rule applies in wheelchair tennis, just as it does in standard tennis. If the serve clips the net but lands in the correct service box, it is considered a let, and the server gets another chance to serve without penalty.

  1. Movement and Contact Rules:

Wheelchair tennis players are allowed to touch the baseline or sideline with their wheelchair wheels while playing. However, the players are not allowed to touch the court with any part of their body while the ball is in play.

  1. Out of Bounds:

If the wheelchair tennis ball lands outside the court’s boundaries, it is considered out, just like in standard tennis. However, the ball is still considered in if it lands on any part of the lines demarcating the court.


Wheelchair tennis is an exciting and challenging sport that brings together athletes with diverse physical abilities. By adhering to the rules set forth by the International Tennis Federation, wheelchair tennis provides a platform for fair and competitive play. Understanding these rules allows players and spectators alike to appreciate the skill, determination, and athleticism displayed by wheelchair tennis players on the court. Whether you are an aspiring player or a tennis enthusiast, knowing the rules of wheelchair tennis enriches the overall experience of this remarkable sport.

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