History of Tennis: Why Is scoring in the game so weirdly?

Interesting piece by Merrill Fabry:

All sports have their own vocabularies, the shorthand lingo to communicate intricacies of rules and how play proceeds. But usually the scoring can at least be counted on to be fairly straightforward. Not so much for tennis.

For the unfamiliar, tennis starts with both players at zero, called love: “Love-all.” One person scores: 15 to love. The server’s score is said first, the receiver’s second. The other now scores, and they’re tied at “15-all.” The next point is 30, then 40, and the following point wins that game. If they tie at 40 it’s called a deuce. From that tie the next person to get a point has the advantage, but generally has to win by two points — that is, to score twice in a row — to win the game. And it doesn’t stop there. Six of these games make a set, and the set must be won by two games or it goes to a tiebreaker. After the set is over, it repeats. To win the whole match requires either winning best of five sets or best of three sets, depending on the competition.

With the Australian Open set to begin on Monday, observers may once again ponder an inevitable question: Why count this way?

In short, we still do not know clearly why the scoring came to be this weird..

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