The game that most people call tennis is the direct descendant of what is now known as real tennis or royal tennis (which continues to be played today as a separate sport with more complex rules). Most of the rules of the game commonly known as tennis derive from real or royal tennis. It is reasonable to see both sports as variations of the same game. Most historians believe that tennis originated in the monastic cloisters in northern France in the 12th century, but the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand hence the name jeu de paume ("game of the palm"). It was not until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called "tennis." It was popular in England and France and Henry VIII of England was a big fan of the game, now referred to as real tennis.
Many original tennis courts remain, including courts at Oxford, Cambridge and Hampton Court Palace. Many of the French courts were decommissioned with the terror that accompanied the French Revolution. The Tennis Court Oath (Serment du Jeu de Paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789. Any history of tennis that ignores its origins in the game that was (and is still in certain circles) known as tennis until "lawn tennis" became popular in the late nineteenth century is inaccurate.
The Davis Cup, an annual competition between men's national teams, dates to 1900. The analogous competition for women's national teams, the Fed Cup, was founded as the Federation Cup in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Tennis Federation, also known as the ITF.
In 1926, promoter C.C. Pyle created the first professional tennis tour with a group of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. The most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen. Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in the major (amateur) tournaments.
In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the "open era", in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. With the beginning of the open era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis's popularity has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its upper/middle-class English-speaking image (although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).
A tennis match can be played by either one player on each side – a singles match – or two players on each side – a doubles match. The rectangular shaped court has a base line (at the back), service areas (two spaces just over the net in which a successful serve must land in) and two tram lines down either side. A singles match will mean you use the inner side tram line and a doubles match will mean you use the outer tram line.
A court can be played on four main surfaces including grass, clay, hard surface and carpet. Each tournament will choose one surface type and stick without throughout. All that is required in terms of equipment is a stringed racket each and a tennis ball.
Terms You Need To Know
- Ace-Serve where the tennis ball lands inside the service box and is not touched by the receiver; thus, a shot that is both a serve and a winner is an ace. Aces are usually powerful and generally land on or near one of the corners at the back of the service box. Initially the term was used to indicate the scoring of a point
- Alley-Area of the court between the singles and the doubles sidelines, which together are known as tramlines.
- Double Fault- Two serving faults in a row in one point, causing the player serving to lose the point
- Ground Stroke-Forehand or backhand shot that is executed after the ball bounces once on the court