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What is Tennis?

 

Tennis is a sport which can be played as singles; two players, or doubles; two teams consisting of two players each. A rubber ball covered in felt must go over the net on to the opponent’s court after being struck by a racket which each player uses. Tennis is played at all levels of society at all ages and most importantly is an Olympic sport.

 

History of Tennis:

 

The history of modern tennis officially began in the 19th century Britain with a man named Major Walter Wingfield. Thus it was not called tennis, rather sphairistike, a Greek word meaning “ball game.” Wingfield sought to patent sphairistike in 1874, which was based on a game played in the 13th century France called jeu de paume—“game of the palm.” This indoor game is similar to tennis because it was played by hitting a ball over a net, only using the palm of our hand rather then a racket. Jeu de Paume emerged into a game called real tennis, or also referred to as royal tennis, that became popular among French royalty.

 

There was evidence that similar games were already being played in England by the time Major Wingfield introduced it to his friends. Both Major T.H. Gem of Britain and J.B. Perera of Spain had created a tennis court on a lawn as early as 1858. However, Major Wingfield was the first to write down his “invention” and seek a patent, which is why today he is considered the father of tennis. The name quickly evolved from sphairistike to tennis after the French would yell, “Tenetz” (which means “take heed”) before hitting the ball during a game of jeu de paume.

 

The game that Major Wingfield created looked much like the game of tennis we play today. Two or four players with rackets played on a court that was shaped like an hourglass. The court was narrower in the middle at the net and wider along the baselines. Reports have been made that the height of the net was anywhere between five to seven feet in Wingfield’s game compared to the three feet height at the center of the net we play today.

 

Shortly after, the game soon came to be called Lawn tennis. It spread quickly through the upper British society and became a popular party game. British army officers established the game in other parts of the world including Bermuda. In 1874, Mary Outerbridge learned tennis from a British officer in Bermuda and brought the game, including the equipment, back to New York where her brother set up a court at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club. It was then that tennis had finally come to America.

 

Rules of Tennis:

 

Court

Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface, usually grass, clay, a hardcourt of concrete and/or asphalt and occasionally carpet (indoor). The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long, and 27 feet (8.23 m) wide for singles matches and 36 ft (10.97 m) for doubles matches. Additional clear space around the court is required in order for players to reach overrun balls. A net is stretched across the full width of the court, parallel with the baselines, dividing it into two equal ends. The net is 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) high at the posts and 3 feet (91.4 cm) high in the center. Insert tennis court picture with dimensions:

 

Lines

The lines that delineate the width of the court are called the baseline (farthest back) and the service line (middle of the court). The short mark in the center of each baseline is referred to as either the hash mark or the center mark. The outermost lines that make up the length are called the doubles sidelines. These are the boundaries used when doubles is being played. The lines to the inside of the doubles sidelines are the singles sidelines and are used as boundaries in singles play. The area between a doubles sideline and the nearest singles sideline is called the doubles alley, which is considered playable in doubles play. The line that runs across the center of a player's side of the court is called the service line because the serve must be delivered into the area between the service line and the net on the receiving side. Despite its name, this is not where a player legally stands when making a serve. The line dividing the service line in two is called the center line or center service line. The boxes this center line creates are called the service boxes; depending on a player's position, he or she will have to hit the ball into one of these when serving. A ball is out only if none of it has hit the line or the area inside the lines upon its first bounce. All the lines are required to be between 1 and 2 inches (51 mm) in width. The baseline can be up to 4 inches (100 mm) wide if so desired.

 

Play of a single point

The players (or teams) start on opposite sides of the net. One player is designated the server, and the opposing player is the receiver. Service alternates game by game between the two players (or teams.) For each point, the server starts behind their baseline, between the center mark and the sideline. The receiver may start anywhere on their side of the net. When the receiver is ready, the server will serve, although the receiver must play to the pace of the server.

In a legal service, the ball travels past the net (without touching it) and into the diagonally opposite service box. If the ball hits the net but lands in the service box, this is a let or net service, which is void, and the server gets to retake that serve. The player can serve any number of let services in a point and they are always treated as voids and not as faults. A fault is a serve that falls long or wide of the service box, or does not clear the net. There is also a "foot fault", which occurs when a player's foot touches the baseline or an extension of the center mark before the ball is hit. If the second service is also a fault, the server double faults, and the receiver wins the point. However, if the serve is in, it is considered a legal service.

A legal service starts a rally, in which the players alternate hitting the ball across the net. A legal return consists of the player or team hitting the ball before it has bounced twice or hit any fixtures except the net, provided that it still falls in the server's court. A player or team cannot hit the ball twice in a row. The ball must travel past the net into the other players' court. A ball that hits the net during a rally is still considered a legal return. The first player or team to fail to make a legal return loses the point. The server then moves to the other side of the service line at the start of a new point.

 

Scoring

A tennis match is determined through the best of three or five sets. While recreational players may agree to play any number of sets, depending upon time availability or stamina, on the professional circuit, including all four Grand Slam tournaments, Davis Cup, and the final of the Olympic Games, women play three-set matches, while men play five-set matches. For men, the first player to win three sets wins the match, and for women, the first player to win two sets wins the match. A set consists of games, and games, in turn, consist of points. Insert picture of a scoreboard of a match

A game consists of a sequence of points played with the same player serving. A game is won by the first player to have won at least four points in total and at least two points more than the opponent. The running score of each game is described in a manner peculiar to tennis: scores from zero to three points are described as "love", "fifteen", "thirty", and "forty" respectively. If at least three points have been scored by each player, making the player's scores equal at forty apiece, the score is not called out as "forty-forty", but rather as "deuce". If at least three points have been scored by each side and a player has one more point than his opponent, the score of the game is "advantage" for the player in the lead. During informal games, "advantage" can also be called "ad in" when the serving player is ahead, or "ad out" when the receiving player is ahead. The score of a tennis match during play is always read with the serving player's score first.

A break point occurs if the receiver, not the server, has a chance to win the game with the next point. Break points are of particular importance because serving is generally considered advantageous, with the server being expected to win games in which they are serving. A receiver who has one (score of 30–40), two (score of 15–40) or three (score of love-40) consecutive chances to win the game has break point, double break point or triple break point, respectively. If the receiver does, in fact, win their break point, the game is awarded to the receiver, and the receiver is said to have converted their break point. If the receiver fails to win their break point it is called a failure to convert. Winning break points, and thus the game, is also referred to as breaking serve, as the receiver has disrupted, or broken the natural advantage of the server. If in the following game the previous server also wins a break point, it is often referred to as breaking back.

A set consists of a sequence of games played with service alternating between games, ending when the count of games won meets certain criteria. Typically, a player wins a set by winning at least six games and at least two games more than the opponent. If one player has won six games and the opponent five, an additional game is played. If the leading player wins that game, the player wins the set 7–5. If the trailing player wins the game, a tie-break is played. A tie-break, played under a separate set of rules, allows one player to win one more game and thus the set, to give a final set score of 7–6. The final score in sets is always read with the winning player's score first, even if the winning player loses set(s) during the match (e.g., "6–3, 3–6, 6–4, 7–5").

 

Frequently asked questions

 

1. Q. What is the earliest age a child can start playing tennis?

A. I tend to recommend that parents start their children as soon as they are mature enough to learn that winning is not the goal but to get better and develop their skills. There is however, a very delicate balance between having them learn how handle losing and teaching them how to win.

 

2. Q. How long to become a good tennis player?

A. A lot depends on how much time and effort that you have to invest in learning the game. Remember consistency is the key when learning the game of tennis.

 

3. Q. How can you improve your tennis as you get older?

A. As we age we tend to slow down and lose a step or two. However, I am a firm believer that we have to use other things to help us maintain or bodies such as, strength and flexibility training and maintaining a healthy diet.

 

4. Q. What gear should a tennis player have?

A. The first thing that you will need is a good quality tennis racquet. The next thing that I would suggest is the proper tennis shoes and comfortable sportswear. For instance, guys tend to wear shorts with pockets and girls tend to wear skirts with spandex to hold the tennis balls. The best advice is to dress comfortably so you are able to move easily.

 

5. Q. How do you know tennis is the right sport for you?

A. I believe that it depends on your age, physical capabilities and motivation. For a young person, tennis has many advantages however; it can be difficult to learn on your own. Notice I did not say impossible, just more difficult for someone to teach themselves as opposed to learning to shoot or dribble a basketball and get proficient at it. On the other hand, as an adult tennis has many social as well as physical benefits that you can't find in many other sports.

 

6. Q. Why should kids play tennis?


A. I like tennis for kids because I believe that as an individualized sport, it teaches them to take responsibility for their actions. Let me clarify. As a player on a basketball team, your child may not know how to dribble but, they can know how to rebound. That puts them in direct competition with another child that may have all of those skills. That is not to say that your child cannot learn those skills, only that while they are in the process of learning they will not be playing in organized games. This is due mostly to emphasis on winning. Whereas in tennis, your child has to know how to do everything. They need to master all of the different areas of tennis in order to get to a level where they can begin to compete and eventually win. It is my belief that this sets tennis apart from the "team" sports in that it teaches the child to take responsibility for their actions and their improvement.

 

7. Q. How important is a good coach when starting to play tennis at 5?

A. It is of great importance if you have decided that the child is going to become serious tennis participant. First of all, you need to find a coach that is going to be able to teach your child the basics. One that has patience and understands what you envision for your child's future. It takes many months and years to develop a young child to the point where they can attain the success that the parent may be looking for.

 

8.Q. Can I learn to play tennis with bad coordination?

A. I can only assume that you are either a teen or adult. With that assumption in mind let me answer your question this way. Tennis is a sport that can be very frustrating for beginners, especially if you have never played any sports before. However, I have seen individuals, teens, and even some adults that I have personally taught who had virtually no coordination develop into fairly good tennis players. It is not as much about coordination as it is about motivation and desire. If you are committed to learning tennis and have the time and desire, I believe that you can achieve whatever your goals are.

 

9. Q. Do tennis Ball Machines help you learn tennis?

A. I would say that a ball machine will not necessarily help you learn however, it is a great tool for working on particular strokes such as, forehand, backhand, volleys. On the other hand, if a bad habit is formed while working with a ball machine, you will consistently practice this bad habit, thus making it difficult to improve. A ball machine is a great tool to practice with but lessons from a tennis pro is always the best way to learn tennis.

 

10. Q. How come I play tennis well one day and not the next?

A. Welcome to the ups and downs of tennis. Not only tennis but all sports have this in common. The key to this for me anyway is to enjoy playing the game and just try to continue to improve. When playing tennis you will have good days that you feel like you just can't miss a shot and still other days where you fell like you should have stayed in bed. Don't sweat it. We don't play for those days where we fell like we can't make a shot, we play for those days where we feel like the ball is as big as a basketball and we simply can't miss!

 

11. Q. What should I know about tennis strings?

A. The first thing to keep in mind is that strings do not last forever. From the time that a racquet is strung the strings start to deteriorate. That is, they begin to lose their ability to apply force to the balls, i.e., they stretch. Understand that strings undergo a great deal of force both when they are installed and when they come in contact with the tennis ball. One rule of thumb is to have your racquet strung per year based on the number of times that you play per week. What that means is that if you play six days a week that you should have your racquet strung six times a year, or every other month. I have seen players who only change their strings if they break. In my opinion this is contrary to what is good for the player to get the most out of their racquets and the racquet.

 

12. Q. Why would someone use two different strings in tennis?

A. There are several reasons that you would use two different strings. Lets say that you are frequent string breaker. You may benefit from using polyester string in your racquet. The problem with using polyester is that it is very stiff and it can produce undue stress on the players arm. What players do in this case is they use a softer string on the cross strings and the polyester on the "mains", which are the vertical strings. This will usually result in better playability and greater durability.

 

13. Q. What do they mean with hybrid tennis string?

A. Hybrid tennis strings are composed of two different strings; one for the "mains" and the other for the "crosses". The purpose for using Hybrid strings are to give more durability, power and/or feel to the racquet as opposed to just using one type of string for the racquet.

 

14. Q. Can you start playing tennis as a teenager?

A. Yes you can start playing tennis at any age. As a matter of fact I believe that for some children that may be the best time to begin. Now your expectations for how far you are likely to go may have to be different. But, if you want to let's say make the high school tennis team or play local tournaments, even starting as a teen you can find much success and gratification. Also, even if you don't decide to take those options, tennis is a lot of fun and it can help you to keep in shape or get in shape if you are not in shape.

 

15. Q. What racket is best for me?

A. Choosing a racket varies from person to person and there are many things to consider. Generally the head and grip size are the main focus when choosing a racket. Choosing the right grip size relies mainly on the size of your hand. Here are examples of the most common head sizes:

Over-sized: Beginners really like the over-sized and even jumbo frames, which offer between 100-140 square inches of strung surface. Such frames give you a larger sweet spot simply because the hitting surface is bigger, and they allow you to hit the ball farther from the heart of the sweet spot and still make a good shot.

Mid-sized: These racquet heads range from 85 to 100 square inches. Most pro players use frames on the low side of mid-sized — between 85 and 95 square inches. Most recreational players gravitate to the high side of mid-sized — between 95 and 100 square inches. Mid-size racquets offer a great compromise between a larger strung surface and sweet spot and a maneuverable frame that lets you generate good racquet speed when you swing.

 

16. Q. Where can you have your racket re-strung?

A. I can actually restring your racket. Most students give me their rackets during their lesson or even drop it off at my home if they have a tournament the next morning.  The turn around time for these services can vary from as little as one day to as much as a week.

 

17. Q. How often should I change my tennis shoes?

A. I try and change my shoes before they get too worn. That wearing can interfere with traction on the court which may lead to slipping and falling. One little trick that I have always used to get more wear out of my shoes is to buy two pairs and switch them out every other day as I go out and practice or play a match.

 

18. Q: Does one get better from group lessons?

A: The answer to this can vary from individual to individual. Some people learn better in an environment where they have a feeling of competitiveness from their peers. Then again, there are those of us who respond better to one on one coaching and mentoring. I believe that a combination of the two works well for most people. In other words, go out and find a clinic or group lesson to have some fun and also seek out a qualified tennis professional to help improve your strokes.

 

 

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