WATCH: John Isner wins generational American battle in Atlanta over Ben Shelton.



Rule 5.a, Score in a Game (Standard game), is either the defender of tennis as it was played since its inception nearly 150 years ago, or the enabler of a contest that literally could have no end. When combined with Rule 6.a, Score in a Set (Advantage set), it can lead to interminable matches. Your opinion about match length might determine how you feel about these Rulebreakers’ ideas.


Andy B. Hoerer, from Ventura, Calif., and Mark Milne, from Arboath, Scotland, want to speed things up—Andy by a smidge, Mark by a lot. Andy thinks enough is enough with back-and-forth scoring games, but he’s not willing to go straight to No-Ad scoring because “it’s over too quickly,” and “a whole match can be decided on a crazy mishit or even a bad call.” So Andy came up with what he calls 3D Tennis. Essentially, it’s a delayed No-Ad format; after the third deuce, a No-Ad point is played. “You get the benefit of traditional scoring, plus the time-saving benefit of No-Ad without the game ending so abruptly,” Andy says.

While Andy’s change would nibble at the time a match takes, Mark’s would slash it dramatically. His “Thirty30” scoring format simply starts every game at 30-all. He says a single set generally takes no longer than 20 minutes, and a best-of-three-set match can be completed in an hour or less.

And if that’s not quick enough for you, try “Thirty30+,” which utilizes No-Ad scoring, meaning every game lasts only two or three points. This “super-fast version,” he says, results in match times of a half-hour or less.

Would these changes to scoring shortened Isner's famous five-setter with Nicolas Mahut?

Would these changes to scoring shortened Isner's famous five-setter with Nicolas Mahut?


There’s nothing inherently wrong with either approach. With 3D Tennis the savings will be minimal: how many games in your typical match go to deuce more than three times? And a game or match can still be decided by a mishit or bad call.

Thirty30, and especially Thirty30+, radically reduce your time on court. That may be just what you need if your schedule is limited, or court time is hard to find. In the latter case, it’s a vast improvement over the abominable “timed tennis,” in that it preserves the traditional tennis concept that you win a match by winning the last point, not by stalling it out when you have a lead.

Got an improvement to the Rules of Tennis or The Code? We invite you to join in. Send in your suggestions to and put “Breaking the Rules” in the subject line.