The net is the single most important structure in tennis. It is the main obstacle of the game, and the aspect that makes it most challenging. Hitting the ball over the net is the cardinal rule of tennis. A player’s skill, quickness and power mean nothing if he can’t properly land the tennis ball over the net and into his opponent’s court.
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The tennis net is placed directly in the center of the court. It is suspended by net posts, splitting the court into two equal halves. The net forms a criss-cross pattern, and the small square holes must be tiny enough that the tennis ball can’t pass through it. Likewise, the net must touch the ground so the ball can’t travel under it. It must be held down in the center by a white strap. It must also have a cord or metal cable running along the top of the net, which must be covered by a white band.
The tennis net stands 3 feet high at the center, the lowest point of the net. Where the net is attached to the posts, the top of the net is 3 feet, 6 inches from the ground. It sags slightly from the net posts at each end, but no more than 6 inches at the center of the court in order to maintain the proper height.
The tennis net must be wide enough to cover the entire court from sideline to sideline. Net posts are placed 3 feet outside either sideline, depending on the type of matches. Most courts are built for doubles matches, as well as single matches. The doubles sidelines are drawn outside the singles sidelines and the distinction is understood. In most cases, the net posts will be 42 feet apart. They stand at 3 feet, 6 inches high and can’t be more than 1 inch above the net band.