The Beginnings of Tennis
Lawn tennis can be traced back as far as 1858. The first lawn tennis club was formed in 1875, but the only game close to tennis at the time was a French game called Jeu ele paume. This game was played by hand. In Britain, this game was called real tennis. There is some evidence that there was a game like tennis in A.D. 500. The root of the game traced back to Egypt and Persia.
In France, the game called Jeu ele paume was certainly a royal game but the first tennis match, not including the game of real tennis, had five servants on each side to entertain Queen Elizabeth. The sport of Jeu de paume grew more and more popular in France and soon there were competitions being held all over Europe. Louis IX died because he hit his head on the door of the tennis court and never recovered but the other king to die in tennis was Louis X and he died of dehydration.
The first mention of a woman playing real tennis in Paris was in 1421. It was said she was better than almost all the men. The first tennis ball was given to King Henry V.
The ball used for real tennis is not used for real tennis but with a racquet and not your hand. So now, Jeu ele paume became what we now call tennis. During the 1890's, tennis came out with a new rubber ball.
The court designed back then was extremely different. They kept experimenting with the height of the net and the width and length of court. Walter Wingfield was the main designer of tennis courts.
With any game there are rules and regulations because of the rapidness of tennis. They were slightly modified versions so the lawn tennis community made universal rules for the game on May 24, 1875. The rules and regulations were that the base of the tennis court should be 30 ft wide and 78 ft long. The service line was 26 ft from the net instead of the baseline. The community changed a couple of Wingfield's original rules and also decided that women should be treated equal in playing the game of tennis.
We all know that Wimbledon is probably the most popular tennis tournament for tennis but in 1875 Henry Jones asked the community to accept the new sport of tennis. Two years later the Croquet Club was now the Croquet and Tennis Club.
In 1877, the first tournament was held at Wimbledon to raise money for the pony roller. A pony roller is to keep the courts in good condition. During this tournament, there were problems with the fact that there were many different types of rules being used in tennis. Rules weren't the only thing that was being debated. The other thing they had to decide was where the service line should be placed, how high the net should be and if they should have one or two serves to get into the service box. Scoring was another issue. When making the court, they still debated whether or not to make it rectangular or an hourglass. During this time, the rules were changing so much especially where the service line should be placed and where the ball lands on the court.
Scoring, how did it come to be? Well, they decided to count by increments of 15 like 15, 30, 45 but today's scoring is 15, 30, 40. Tennis historians all agree that it was just a faster way of saying it. But how did love game come about? Some theories are it was a French word meaning egg which represents zero or nothing.
Where did the word tennis come from? Some theories are it came from a French word "tendre" which means to hold. Opponents would call out "tendre" to say I am ready.
From the name of tennis to the rules of the game, so many things have changed. These days rackets are the one thing that is changing constantly. From the wooden racket to the modern racket, the quality of play has gone up. The speed of the ball goes so much faster than when tennis started. This is also possible because of the technology of the rackets. Tennis balls have also changed. Tennis rules are all set and there are no debates. The only debate really is why are they allowed to use the new rackets, shoes and net that knows if the ball hit it and not able to use cameras to see where the ball lands.
Tennis has become one the most popular sports. We hope tennis keeps improving and the players keep getting better.