Newbie’s Guide to Paddle Tennis Tournaments

Paddle tennis tournaments are a great way to elevate a person’s game to the next level by entering into a competitive atmosphere with other players. Rules and regulations of paddle tournaments are governed by the American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) which provides resources for game play. Learn what to expect when signing up for the first tournament.



Etiquette and sportsmanship are fundamental to the sport of paddle tennis. Unsportsmanlike conduct is not tolerated. Some examples of this include: throwing the paddle, abusive or foul language, threatening verbal or physical behavior or name calling. Tournament directors consider the level of severity when determining penalties for egregious behaviors. Etiquette in paddle tennis tournaments include guidelines which promote respect for the rules, other players and elevate the game for all involved.



Two important pieces of equipment in paddle tennis are the ball and paddle. There is a rubber ball with flocking and a paddle which is 18 inches in overall length. The paddle is perforated with up to 87 holes, approximately ⅜ inch diameter. All paddles and balls used in APTA sanctioned tournaments must be approved by the APTA Rules Committee.  A player may not carry a second paddle or ball during play but it is permissible to use both hands on the paddle or to switch the paddle from hand to hand during play. As long as the ball is in good condition, only one should remain in play.


Game Play

Paddle tournaments are played as doubles although singles tournaments are sometimes permitted. A toss is conducted to determine who serves first which usually involves spinning the paddle. The winning team has the right to serve first, the right to receive first, the right to choose the end or the right to require the other team to make first choice. Players take respective places on opposite sides of the net. The serving team must deliver service from behind the baseline between the center mark and sideline, diagonally cross court from the receiver. Players then alternate serving and receiving from their respective sides. The ball must pass over the net and hit the deck within the service court before the receiver may return it. Service may be delivered overhand, underhand or sidearm per server’s choosing.


Game scoring starts at zero or ‘love.’ The first point is called 15 (sometimes ‘5’), second point 30, third point 40 and fourth point Game. The server customarily calls the score of the serving team first (love 15, 15-30, etc). The game continues until a team wins two points in a row from deuce (both teams scoring 40 points).

Good manners govern paddle tennis tournaments. Players must be punctual, bring a ball, compliment good play by the partner and opponents and be gracious at end of game play by taking a moment to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to the opposing team, tournament chairman and tournament committee. This ensures a positive experience for all players, win or lose.