Introduction to Tennis

Tennis is a racquet sport played on a court of two halves, separated by a net. It is played by individuals (singles) or pairs (doubles) who hit the ball over the net with the aim of preventing their opponents from hitting it back.

Players use a stringed racquet to strike a small ball over a net into the opponent's court.

Tennis is now an Olympic sport played at various levels and ages around the world. Millions of tennis fans follow the major Tennis Opens, which have become huge draw cards for sponsors and players. Tennis rules have remained remarkably unchanged since the 1920s, although improved racquet design has vastly increased the speed of the game. Technology has also played a part in the sport's development, with electronic sensors often used to judge line calls.



Tennis goes back to a game called jeu de paume , played in the monastery courtyards of 11th century France, where walls and sloping roofs formed part of the court and players used the palm of their hand to hit the ball.

Two forms of tennis emerged in England in the Victorian era. One, called "pelota", was inspired by a Spanish ball game. The other was based on the older sport of indoor tennis or real tennis (royal tennis), notably played by King Henry VIII.

Tennis spread rapidly in both Great Britain and the US. The first All-England Championships at Wimbledon were played in 1877. In Paris in 1913, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) was formed by 12 national associations to control lawn tennis throughout the world. In 1977, it dropped the word "lawn" from its title, in recognition that most tennis was not played on grass. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is now made up of 202 national tennis associations.

Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open and the Australian Open have became the most prestigious events in tennis, reflecting the dominance of the US, Britain, France and Australia in the sport. Together, these four events are called "Grand Slams" and offer large sums of prize money.

When the distinction between amateur and professional players was abolished, tennis truly became a global sport, with champions winning Grand Slams from many countries.

World-class Asian players include Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan, doubles aces Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati of India and Japan's Ai Sugayama.

Tennis hit its way into the third Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan, in 1958.



Tennis is played on a rectangular flat surface, usually of grass, clay, or concrete (hard court). The court is 78ft (23.77m) long, and its width is 27ft (8.23m) for singles matches and 36ft (10.97m) for doubles.

Players require additional space 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 3ft 6in (1.07m) high at the posts, and 3ft (914mm) high in the centre.

Players start on opposite sides of the net. The server stands on his baseline and hits the ball across the net to the opposing player, or receiver. Service alternates between the two halves of the court.

If the first service goes wide or fails to cross the net, the serving player has a second attempt. If the second service is also a fault, the receiver wins the point.

If the service is legal, players alternate hitting the ball across the net ensuring it lands within the area marked by court lines. They must hit the ball before it bounces twice. When a player fails to return the ball, he or she loses the point.

In each game, scores of zero to three points are described as "love" or "zero", "15", "30" and "40" respectively.

If both players reach 40, the score is called "deuce" and play continues until one player has a 2-point advantage, therefore winning the game.

Matches are played to the best of three or five sets of six games, with service alternating in each game. A set is won when a player has won at least six games with a minimum margin of two games.

A "tie - break" system comes into operation when players are tied on six games each.

In the tie break, the first player shall serve during the first point and thereafter service alternates every two points. The winner of the tie break is the first player or team to reach seven points by a margin of two points.