Virtua Tennis 4 is an action-oriented tennis game which focuses on fast matches instead of being a realistic simulation. The heart of the game is the career mode in which the player creates his own avatar. The goal is simple: reaching the top within four seasons. Here the player has various possibilities to improve his tennis player, e.g. by playing training sessions (arcade mini game like picking up eggs) to improve the statistics, buying new clothes with prize money or playing matches. The menu for this mode is made up like a board game.
Other playing modes are single matches, party mode (playing the mentioned mini games) or arcade (winning as many matches in a row as possible). Here players can choose between 19 licensed athletes (plus at release already retired athletes in the PlayStation 3 version). The standard controls for returning the ball consist of choosing the wished move, e.g. a spin, and the basic direction. When a special bar is filled up, players can unleash an especially powerful hit.