Tennis

Tennis is a well established game, dating back thousands of years when it was a popular activity for monks all over Europe.  Back then it provided the entertainment factor during religious ceremonies.


Its exact place of origin appears to be unknown but the sport differed quite markedly from what we know as tennis today.  For example there was no racket; tennis’ first players used their hands.  Later a leather glove was used and further down the line the sport’s first ‘rackets’ were introduced in the form of wooden handles.


Similarly the balls used at the birth of the game were quite different – stuffed leather spheres which had no bounce and were weightier than their modern day counterparts.  They made the game slower and needed to remain air borne to stay in play.


The game’s scoring system used today originated in France where it was hugely popular in both the 16th and 18th centuries - particularly amongst the nobility.  French players began each game shouting the “Tenez!”, meaning “Play!” and the game soon became known as royal or “real tennis.”


1874 was a breakthrough year for tennis because Major Walter Wingfield acquired the patent rights for the equipment and rules of the game. Wingfield’s court was hourglass shaped and shorter than the modern courts plus his game rules somewhat different, but soon courts were appearing all over the world and it was really the tipping point for the development of the modern game we enjoy today.


If you’re thinking of playing and want to get the most from your game you do need to invest in a quality racket with the right dimensions for you, the correct strings and good grips.  Proper tennis shoes are also crucial, poor footwear both hinders performance and increases risk of injury.  Good balls are also important, so ensure the ones you use have been designed specifically for the sport and are appropriate to your level of play.


There are courts everywhere where you can enjoy a game but if you don’t have an opponent a rebound net is a great way to practise your returns, while a ball machine is even better.  And if you can’t afford a coach of your own there are some excellent instructional DVDs that give you the low down on the techniques that will ensure you improve.


And there’s some great kit available too – the confidence that results from looking and feeling the part should never be underestimated.

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