by, Marco Martins
The bristly feel of the tennis ball in your hand. The sweat on your brow as you grip your racket, lean onto your front foot and allow a breath in. You bounce the ball on the clay court. The sound echoes through the stadium. No one makes a sound, but as you toss the ball into the air, preparing to serve, you feel the whole stadium holdings its breath…
This is Tennis, one of the original games of kings. Today though, consider yourself royalty, because you’re about to learn all about it!
The History of Tennis
Starting in the 12th Century, Tennis has been around for a very long time. However, it didn’t begin as Tennis as we know it today. In France, where the game was created, it was called Jeu de Paume, meaning “Game of the Palm”. This name came about because Tennis was played with a ball and your hand as the racket.
The game always began with someone shouting, “Tennez!” This meant, “Hold”, “Receive!” or even “Take!” The game was played in royal courts, where royalty could appreciate the game.
In the 1500s the game evolved to the next level. Around this time, players introduced rackets to the game. The rackets were made of wood and the strings made of sheep gut – I kid you not!
The game grew in such popularity over the years that it eventually reached England. In 1740 Henry the Eighth held the first Jeu de Paume Tournament.
Not much changed in the game for centuries, until Charles Goodyear came along. If his surname sounds familiar to you, then you’ll know why. Goodyear was the inventor of Vulcanized Rubber – the same material used in car tyres. The first rubber Tennis ball was born.
Since then, tennis has become one of the world’s most popular games, played on clay courts, grass courts and everything in between.
What You’ll Need
If you’re thinking of giving tennis a try, you’re going to need a couple of pieces of essential equipment. These include:
- Tennis Racket
- Tennis Balls
- A good pair of tennis sneakers.
You’ll also need to work on your fitness, because Tennis is a game that sends you scurrying left, right, forward and backwards almost all the time!
Know Your Rules
While the rules of Tennis may seem a little complex, after a practice or two, you’ll get the hang of them in no time at all.
The game starts with one of the players “serving” the ball. This means that you have to hit it from your side of the court, over the net, and into the opposite block with only one bounce. During a “serve” you cannot touch the net. If it touches the net, this is called a “fault”. After two faults, your opponent gets the ball and gains the “service”.
The object of the game is to hit the ball over the net and keep the ball within the lines. When your opponent fails to do this, you get the point. Points are not measured in 1,2,3 the way most sports do.
In tennis points go as follows:
15 = first point
30 = second point
40 = third point
40 Love = when both players are tied on three points. This is where an advantage will be played until someone can break the tie.
After successfully winning three points, you win the game. If you earn between 5 and six games, you gain a set. And after two or three sets, you win the match.
Singles and Doubles
You can play tennis with either two or four people. With two people, the game is called Singles. With four people, it’s called Doubles. The rules all stay the same, except when you play doubles, you’re allowed to use the whole court.
Ready, Set, Play!
There’s a reason why Tennis is more popular than it’s ever been today. It’s a fun sport, and whether you’re watching or playing, it’s a thrilling experience to be a part of because it’s so unpredictable. So, what have you got to lose? Give it a try!
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