From Love to Match Point: How Long Does a High School Tennis Match Last?

  • Standard Formats Are Followed for Singles – Best 2 out of 3 Sets.
  • On Average, Singles Matches Last from 1-2 Hours.
  • Doubles Matches May Last up to 1 Hour.

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

   Your Guide

High school tennis is the STEPPING STONE for players before moving into college tennis.

Anyone can play on the team ONCE THEY START high school.

How Long Does a High School Tennis Match Last

Both boy’s and girl’s tennis matches are played, and generally, there will be many inter-school matches played each season.

As for how long the games can last, it’s usually anywhere from 1-2 hours, on average

Of course, this depends on the following:

  • How close a game is
  • How well-matched the players are
  • As well as their Overall Game Styles

Players THAT GRIND will usually have longer matches than those that like to hit big.

But there is more that influences the length of a high school game than just game styles and closeness of abilities.

There are also SUBTLE RULES that you need to be aware of when thinking of how long a match will last.

Specific Rules That You Need To Know About

Now I’d like to take a CLOSER LOOK at some of the finer details that tend to get overlooked with high school tennis.

Most Games Use Ad Scoring

Although some matches MAY WARRANT ‘no-ad’ scoring, most high school games will use ad-scoring.

Basically, this means that when a game GETS TO DUCE, a regular advantage will be played until the game has a winner.

This in itself means that high school games CAN LAST LONGER when ad scoring is used compared with no-ad scoring.

As we’ve seen on the professional tour, games that involve multiple deuces can sometimes last more than 10 MINUTES!

Should a high school game involve several of these, naturally, it MAY GO BEYOND the average of 1-2 hours of play.

Of course, there is no guarantee that this will happen.

Then again, if a high school game is played without advantages, once a deuce point is played, that will be the end of the game.

Over time, this can make QUITE A DIFFERENCE to the length of the match.

Doubles Is a Pro-set to Eight Games

While singles matches are played in a best 2 out of 3 set formats, doubles are QUITE DIFFERENT.

The way in which doubles is played is actually the exact same as we used to do in NCAA college tennis.

The format for doubles matches is known as a ‘pro set,’ and it’s essentially an EXTENDED SET.

Pairs are required to reach 8 games to win the match, and if the game goes to 8-8, a 7-point tie break will decide the match.

Given that these matches will NATURALLY INVOLVE FEW GAMES than singles, they tend to BE SHORTER.

For example, if one doubles pair dominates the other and wins the match by 8-0, that’s just 8 games they’ve had to play.

In contrast, the lowest number of games that can be played in a singles match is 12 – that’s assuming one player wins by a score of 6-0, 6-0. 

Even if a doubles game goes to a tie-break, however, it is QUITE RARE that the game lasts for much longer than one hour.

Singles Are Regular With a 10-Point Breaker

One of the main reasons that high school singles match RARELY GO much past the 2-hour mark is due to this rule.

Unless a player wins by 2-0 in sets, the match will be split and IT WILL BE one set apiece.

If this situation occurs, there is NO POSSIBILITY of a full third set.

That’s because full third sets have been scrapped for high school tennis, and the Championship tiebreak has replaced it.

A Championship tie break has also been introduced on the pro tour too, as seen at the Australian Open.

High school tennis has obviously followed suit and implemented the third-set tie-break rule.

Basically, this is AN EXTENDED TIE BREAK where one player needs to reach 10 points instead of the regular 7 points.

This has been done to avoid overly lengthy matches and to allow high school games to be wrapped up in an APPROPRIATE LENGTH OF TIME.

Of course, since the third set is played this way, matches can save up to one hour’s worth of tennis!

Regular Lets Are Used

For those that haven’t heard of this rule before, you’ll probably find this PRETTY INTERESTING.

In Division One college tennis, should a serve hit the net, it is still live.

So if the serve JUST TRICKLES over into the box, it is viewed as an ace and they will win the point.

This was introduced to speed up the matches, and it was briefly trialed on the pro tour too until players basically VOTED AGAINST IT.

In high school tennis, however, regular lets are used for all matches

This means that if a serve does hit the net and trickle over, the serve MUST BE REPEATED.

In my opinion, this is MUCH BETTER FOR THE GAME and lets don’t really extend the length of a match all that much anyway. 

Now that I’ve covered the scoring systems and average length of matches, I would hope that your question has been answered.

But let’s do a quick recap on the main points so that you leave this post fully informed!

So, for singles matches, you are usually looking at a length of 1-2 hours. 

The only way it would be less is if one player BLOWS THE OTHER one off the court, usually by a pretty convincing scoreline.

And the only way it would be more than 2 hours is if you had two very evenly matched players who played a somewhat GRINDING STYLE.

Of course, the match would likely need to go to 3 sets to EXTEND BEYOND the 2-hour mark too.

As for doubles, I can say with confidence that I have never had a College Doubles Match that lasted more than one hour.

And since this is the case in college, I would think that this is REPLICATED IN HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS.

Of course, there might be rare discrepancies, but this is fairly accurate!

Have any stories from high school tennis you’d like to share? Feel free to jump into the comments below.

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