Tennis is one of the most popular racket sports in the world. It is an individual game that can also be played as doubles with two opponents. The game is fairly easy to understand but takes time to master. The legends of the game with many international titles rose the ranks with years of hard work.
The rules of the game are interesting to make the game competitive and fairly easy to understand as well. We will discuss all aspects of the game by bifurcating things to make it a convenient handbook for novice players.
The origin of the game cannot be traced with specific as researchers couldn’t find much about it to the point of precision. However, it is believed that the game was invented and first played somewhere in the 11th or 12th century. It was invented by French monks.
This game gained popularity at the time when it came into the hands of the rich aristocrats. Those people are believed to have modified the courtyards and made them into the courts of indoor type. They manufactured bats that were used for hitting the ball. They used cork balls with the bats for playing the subject game.
It was the year 1500 when a racket of wooden frames was first introduced and it soon became a norm. Cork balls were still used by this time which would roughly weigh around three ounces.
The game of tennis as early as the 17th century had many royal fans. Their love for the game was phenomenal which helped in making the game popular as they constructed many new courts. The game kept on evolving and took its most advanced form which we know today.
Tennis is a game that is played in all parts of the world. It is popularly known as lawn tennis, which is either played over the natural court or the clay court. The latter is more of a thing that came much later when the game was modified to suit the best conditions and making it more competitive and enjoyable. It is the most popular game in Europe, the USA, and Australia. This competitive and recreational sport is played in different formats including singles and doubles.
The most common, simple, and popular format is the single where two players on the tennis court play against each other. There is a net in the center that bifurcates the two halves. Each participating player holds a racket and a special tennis ball is used. One can play it either in an informal manner or it could also be played as a competitive game with a scored match.
In the early days of the game, the player uses to practice alone against a wall so that they could develop their game individually. They were not dependent on any other player for the game. In the modern times of today, sophisticated ball machines are there to practice. This scenario is a lot different than the actual game but this proves to be a good way to practice the game.
Tennis is regulated today by the International Tennis Federation. It is this organization that developed a standardized set of rules and regulations of the game. All the international tournaments including grand slams adhere to the rules given by the ITF.
There are different types of tennis. You may say that there are different types of games that are identical to tennis as they have the same sort of basics of the game. The first one is table tennis which is played over a table with almost the same basic rules as lawn tennis. Moving on, beach tennis is another type of tennis that is played on the beach over a defined area.
Similarly, racquetball, pickleball, platform tennis, and soft tennis are a few other types of the game. There doesn’t have the same hype or popularity as mainstream tennis but they still have some level of followership in the USA and Europe. It is imperative to also mention squash here, which might look completely different based on its format and style, but somehow it resembles tennis considering the approach of the players.
All the sports that are mentioned above are played with a racket and have a ball which is to be hit in the court of the opponent with the intent of gaining a point through the rally. In each of these mentioned games, a point is earned when the opponent misses to pick or hit back the ball or when he drops out of the defined area.
The playing area of tennis is called lawn and for that reason, it is called lawn tennis. The first development in the playing conditions from outdoor natural lawn surface saw the clay court. Things further evolved gradually and the game was also played indoors. This was the case for avoiding any type of climatic interruptions. The development till this point was seen in the 19th century.
Furthermore, the court surfaces further varied in the 20th century. The next variant that came in was the hardcourt. The rigid material is used such as concrete or asphalt for the manufacturing of the court’s surface. Another type of surface is the artificial grass type.
As expected, it is a surface that comes with artificial grass and gives a different experience to the players as compared with the other court types. Different types of tournaments are known for the type of court they use. This will be further discussed below in the Tennis – Tournaments section.
These court types require a different kind of expertise of players. It is for this reason we see players who do well in a specific type of court as compared with the other. These different court types further add to the excitement of the game from the perspective of both the players and the spectators.
The mandatory equipment for the sport is a racket and a tennis ball. It is then followed by shoes and their specific dress code. A tennis racket could be made from wood or alloy. There is absolutely no restriction on the material or the size of the racket used. Usually, this equipment has an oval head where the gradually broadening gullet joins to the narrow handle. The main head of the racket is woven quite tightly with the strings. Materials used for this string could be nylon or the regular or synthetic gut.
As per the rules defined by ITF, tennis balls have to be yellow with a spherical shape that has a diameter in the range of 2.5 to 2.625 inches. Their weight is a little over 2 ounces. These are pressurized rubber balls that make the half-shells of semi-spherical type.
A regular net is required to separate the two sides of the court. The net is tightly woven in a way so that no ball could pass through it. Its height from the ground is 3 feet.
Next, it comes to the tennis shoes. These are the ones that do not provide any sort of lateral support to the players. They are designed as per the requirements of the game and the nature of the court. Stability is good and there would be no sliding while there is any sideways movement.
The dress code requires men to wear t-shirts and shorts made of polyester material. It does not absorb sweat easily. The shorts used does not cover the knees. For ladies, they prefer wearing a t-shirt or a tank top with a short skirt.
Once two players are ready with all the equipment and take their position then one needs to serve the ball to the other. A coin is tossed ahead of the game that who will serve first. The server keeps on serving for the entire length of the set.
The serve goes to the other player when the next set starts and it continues so on. A server is provided with two chances to make the ball land within the marked service court area. The player serving the ball or even otherwise has to play the shot free from the centered net.
The serve or the return shot must land within the marked area of the opponent. However, the opponent has the right to pick the ball on the full as well. If the ball is netted or it lands outside the marked area then the opponent scores.
The score counting in tennis is a bit tricky with some fancy terms used as well. ‘Love’ or ‘Love-All’ means when both the players have got no points. The first point scored by any player would make the score 15-0. Let’s say that the first player takes the second point as well which will make the score 30-0. If the third point is also taken then the score will be 40-0.
Now, the first player is on the setpoint and if he earns this point as well then he would win that set. The scoring of the other players would be done in the same way.
If in case the score gets tied at 40-all or 40-40 then this is called deuce. In this situation, a player should earn a couple of consecutive points for winning the game. The first of that point is called “Advantage” and the other one is the “Point’ for winning the game. Set in the simple situation is won when a player wins six games.
In modern or popular tennis today, there are three different variants of the game. The simplest of all is the single game. In this type, two players compete against each other as in one-on-one style. It is a format type for both men and women who play separately. This type of competition is set in a counter-distinction form.
The next is the double variant where two players are on either side of the court and compete against each other. So, there is two-player in total, which is double than the single-game and given the name for the same reason. Gender here does not play any role. The court size for the doubles game is much wider as compared to a single one.
Then it comes to the mixed doubles. This game format is exactly similar to the doubles format as discussed above, but with one exception only. In mixed doubles, gender matters. There are four players in this version with two players on either side.
The above are the three major types of internationally recognized variants that are also endorsed by ITF. Apart from these, there are a few lesser-known and practice or a special type of formats that are regional with not much of global reach. Those variants namely are American Doubles, Wheelchair Tennis, Jordache Tennis, Australian and Canadian doubles.
There are four grand slams tournaments every year which are considered the most prestigious ones. The following is a brief description given:
The above four tournaments are played by the top seed players of the world. Each of these grand slams is wrapped in a couple of weeks. These tournaments have all sorts of categories including men and women separate singles, doubles, and mixed doubles match.
In both ladies and gentlemen category, tennis has produced multiple legends over the many years. A few of the top made their way into the Hall of Fame. The following is a selective list of the male champion of champions:
The following is a selective list of the female champion of champions:
Tennis is a beautiful game which is loved and played by men and women of varying ages all over the world. This racket sport comes with basic equipment of racket, ball, and shoes. It is played in a court which could be of grass, clay, hardcourt, or artificial grass court. It could be an indoor or outdoor game both.
The basic rules of the game are moderate in complexity for a novice. There are four major grand slams played which have produced many legends of the game. Tennis, without a doubt, is one of the most popular games in the world.