My Opinion: What’s the Story With Tennis Lingo?

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I was recently at a dinner party at a friend’s apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I got caught up in a conversation with some guy who said that he worked in the city as some sort of financial or investment banker. I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about, because I was trying not to fall asleep while he was explaining to me what he does for a living. Battling the melatonin that this guy’s job description was forcing my brain to secrete, I quickly tried to change the subject so I wouldn’t collapse and destroy another coffee table like I did back in my college days (I went to a state school … nuff said!).

While looking at this guy cross-eyed and trying to keep my head up, I interjected, “How about those Mets this year? What a disaster this team has become! The only way these scrubs can possibly do well this year is if they tree every game they play. But seriously, even if they do that, I see them getting bageled every other game.”

This uptight guy looked at me as if I was speaking another language and walked away scared for his own well-being. Ironically enough, this is nothing new for me. I’m pretty used to getting this response when I use my tennis lingo to people outside of our tennis world.

If you have been a part of junior tennis in one way or another over the last couple of decades, you are well aware that tennis players speak a certain language that people who aren’t involved with the sport have no idea about. So if you live in that outside world and you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, here is a list of those words that we use and how you can use them in your everyday “boring” life. Okay … let’s get started …

Tree
Tennis player definition: It’s a term used when someone is playing absolutely out of his or her mind. This person is hitting shots and winners that are well-beyond their regular playing ability.

Used in a tennis sentence: “I cannot believe that you just hit that forehand passing shot. That’s such a tree.” or “I lost to Jimmy yesterday. I played well, but he tree’d the whole match … what can I do?”►Used in a real world sentence: “Did you see all the good-looking women that Mark has been picking up lately? That guy is totally treeing!”

 

Hook
Tennis player definition: This term is used when someone makes an intentional bad call to screw you over. It’s when they call a ball out that is clearly in.

Used in a tennis sentence: “It’s five-all in the third set tie-breaker, and then this guy from Indiana who I’m playing decides to hook me … what the hell?” or “I lost. I got hook’d the entire match!”

Used in a real world sentence: “I went to the supermarket and bought a dozen oranges. When I got home, I saw that there were only 11 in the bag. Stop & Shop just hook’d me big time!”

 

 

Tank
Tennis player definition: When someone loses points intentionally. They don’t want to play anymore, and instead of fighting their way back, they just want to go home. Tennis players do this to get the match over with as fast as possible.

Used in a tennis sentence: “I wasn’t going to beat this guy anyway, so I decided to just tank.”

Used in a real world sentence: “I’ve been driving around the city for the last two hours and I cannot find a parking space. Forget it, I’m just going to tank and go home.”

 

Credit: BananaStockScrub
Tennis player definition: A player who isn’t very good at all. Someone who plays recreationally and then gets a crazy idea to all of a sudden play in a tennis tournament. You can tell right away if someone is a scrub when they show up to a tournament match and they are holding one racquet and an iced coffee. A scrub is a very poor tennis player who is totally out of their element.

Used in a tennis sentence: “I have a great draw. It looks like I’m playing a scrub in the first round.”

Used in a real world sentence: “Where are those PCA reports that are supposed to be on my desk this morning? Tommy, you are one of the biggest scrubs I have ever met! If you weren’t my nephew, I would have fired you years ago!”

Credit: Ryan McVayDeef
Tennis player definition: This is a term that is short for the word “default.” Tennis players abbreviate it by saying, “deef.” It’s when we win a tournament match without even having to play it, because our opponent decided to never show up.

Used in a tennis sentence: “My stomach has been killing me all day. I think I’m going to just deef my match tonight.”

Used in a real world sentence: “I showed up to the restaurant for my blind date, but as soon as I saw her, I decided to just deef and call it a night.

Bagel
Tennis player definition: To win or lose a set six-love. The shape of a bagel looks like a zero, but, don’t say donut or any other round-shaped food. Even though a donut is the same shape as a bagel, for some reason, it never caught on in the tennis world, and if you say anything other than bagel, people will look at you weird.

Used in a tennis sentence: “I just gave this guy a double bagel.” or (if you want to get a little sassy) “You are fully aware that I played your coach years ago, and I gave him two bagels, toasted with cream cheese, and then I asked him if he wanted a side order of potato salad. He replied with, ‘yes,’ and took it to-go.”

Used in a real world sentence: “I went to the bank and they said my checking and savings accounts were a double bagel.”

 

Tweener
Tennis player definition: To hit a shot between your legs. It’s an abridged version of the word, “between.”

Used in a tennis sentence: “The lob went over my head, but instead of trying to flick it over my shoulder, I decided to hit a tweener.”

Used in a real world sentence … your guess is as good as mine!

So, now you have our tennis lingo down. Armed with this new knowledge, you will be able to listen and understand what junior and college tennis players are saying to and about each other. Now when you are in a tournament lobby and you overhear:

“I thought I was going to get a deef, but this scrub showed up 10 min. late. He hook’d me in the first game, but it was totally fine because I started to tree out of my mind after that. Once I won the first set, he started to tank, and to make things interesting, I decided to hit a tweener on match point. I gave him a whole wheat bagel in the second set, because I figured that white flour would be just empty calories.”

You will know exactly what they mean!