What is it?

In tennis you hit a ball over a net. Tennis is played in a rectangle-shaped area called a tennis court. You to hit the ball over the net and into their opponent’s part of the court and stop them doing the same thing. You’re your opponent does not hit the ball back; or hits the ball into the net; or out of the court you win a point.

Games of tennis are called matches. You have to win more sets than your opponent to win a tennis match.

A set is by won by winning more games than your opponent. You win games by winning more points than your opponent. (To win in tennis you need to win points in a game; games in a set; and sets in a match.)

How it all started

Tennis started in France hundreds of years ago. But tennis in the 12th Century did not look like it does today. Back then it was called Jeu de paume which is French for "game of the palm (hand)".

It was played indoors. The walls and floors were not out of bounds.

Hitting the ball with hands hurt. So players started wearing gloves. In the 16th century, the tennis players started using racquets.

The Tennis Ball

The first tennis balls were hard. They were made from leather, wool and hair. A piece of white cloth was wrapped around them. From the 1870s, tennis balls were made from rubber.

Unusual Scoring

In tennis, the scoring is 0, 15, 30, 40 then game. Why?

The scoring in tennis may have come from telling the time. After a point has been scored, the clock hand is moved a quarter of the way around the clock face. The first point is 15. The second is 30. The third point is 40 (but on a clock that would be 45). But no one knows if this is really true.

Deuce And Love

"Deuce" comes from the French word deux, which means "two". It is used when two points have to be scored in a row to win.

Some people think "love" (zero points) comes from the French word l'oeuf, which means "the egg". The round shape of the egg looks like a naught, or zero.

The Tiebreak

If both players have won six games each in a set they play in a tiebreak. In the tiebreak a player must win seven points.  They must also be two points or more ahead of their opponent . If, instead, the tiebreak score is 7-6 (or 8-7, or 9-8) the players keep playing until there is a two point lead.

A tennis match is usually one, three or five sets long. If both players have won as many many sets and it is the last set there is no tiebreak. Instead if the players have won six games each they play until one has won two more games than the other.

When the tiebreak begins, the player who served first in the set serves first.  After that, they take turns serving for two points with the opponent serving first.

Tennis at the Olympics

Tennis was one of sports in the first modern Olympics in 1896. But it was no longer in the Olympics after 1924.

Then 60 years later, in 1984, tennis was played in the Olympics again. But it was not until 1988 that Olympic medals could be won again.

Tennis at the Olympics has become more and more popular since. Many of the best tennis players have won Olympics , including Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf and the Williams sisters.

History of Seeding

In many tennis competitions if a player loses once they are out of the competition. But sometimes some of the best players would play against each other in the early matches. This meant a lot of the best players would be out of competition early and many of the worse players would still be in.

Seeding was started to stop this happening. Each player is ranked from best to worst. Then the best players would play the worst players. So in the later rounds of a competition the best players would often play each other. Seeding was first used in the US National Championships in 1922.

The Davis Cup

The Davis Cup is a competition played by countries. It was started in 1900 by American player Dwight Davis. It was first called the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy. Only 2 teams were in the first competition- U.S.A. (America) and Great Britain. Today over 100 countries compete in the Davis Cup.  

References & Sources

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