Tennis
Tennis is a sport people play individually against a single opponent or between two teams
of two players each . Each player uses a racquet that is strung with cord to strike a hollow
rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent’s court. The object
of the game is to play the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play
a good return. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at
all levels of society and at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold
a racquet, including wheelchair users. The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham,
England, in the late 19th century as “lawn tennis”. It had close connections both to
various field (“lawn”) games such as croquet and bowls as well as to the older racquet
sport of real tennis. During most of the 19th-century in fact, the term “tennis” referred to real
tennis, not lawn tennis: for example, in Disraeli’s novel Sybil (1845), Lord Eugene De Vere announces
that he will “go down to Hampton Court and play tennis.”
The rules of tennis have changed little since the 1890s. Two exceptions are that from 1908
to 1961 the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times, and the adoption
of the tie-break in the 1970s. A recent addition to professional tennis has been the adoption
of electronic review technology coupled with a point challenge system, which allows a player
to contest the line call of a point. Tennis is played by millions of recreational
players and is also a popular worldwide spectator sport. The four Grand Slam tournaments (also
referred to as the “Majors”) are especially popular: the Australian Open played on hard
courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts,
and the US Open played also on hard courts. History
Predecessors Historians believe that the game’s ancient
origin lay in 12th century northern France, where a ball was struck with the palm of the
hand. Louis X of France was a keen player of jeu de paume (“game of the palm”),
which evolved into real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor
tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis out of doors and
accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris “around the end of the 13th century”.
In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe. Unfortunately, in
June 1316 at Vincennes, Val-de-Marne and following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank
a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although
there was also suspicion of poisoning. Because of the contemporary accounts of his death,
Louis X is history’s first tennis player known by name. Another of the early enthusiasts
of the game was King Charles V of France, who had a court set up at the Louvre Palace.
It wasn’t until the 16th century that racquets came into use, and the game began to be called
“tennis”, from the Old French term tenez, which can be translated as “hold!”, “receive!”
or “take!”, an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent. It was popular
in England and France, although the game was only played indoors where the ball could be
hit off the wall. Henry VIII of England was a big fan of this game, which is now known
as real tennis. During the 18th century and early 19th century, as real tennis declined,
new racquet sports emerged in England. Further, the patenting of the first lawn mower
in 1830, in Britain, is strongly believed to have been the catalyst, world-wide, for
the preparation of modern-style grass courts, sporting ovals, playing fields, pitches, greens,
etc. This in turn led to the codification of modern rules for many sports, including
lawn tennis, most football codes, lawn bowls and others.
Origins of the modern game Between 1859 and 1865 Harry Gem and his friend
Augurio Perera developed a game that combined elements of racquets and the Basque ball game
pelota, which they played on Perera’s croquet lawn in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.
In 1872, along with two local doctors, they founded the world’s first tennis club in Leamington
Spa. In December 1873, British army officer Major
Walter Clopton Wingfield designed and patented a similar game – which he called sphairistikè
(Greek: σφαιριστική, meaning “ball-playing”), and was soon known simply as “sticky” –
for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan,
Wales. According to R. D. C. Evans, turfgrass agronomist, “Sports historians all agree that
deserves much of the credit for the development of modern tennis.” According to Honor Godfrey,
museum curator at Wimbledon, Wingfield “popularized this game enormously. He produced a boxed
set which included a net, poles, racquets, balls for playing the game — and most importantly
you had his rules. He was absolutely terrific at marketing and he sent his game all over
the world. He had very good connections with the clergy, the law profession, and the aristocracy
and he sent thousands of sets out in the first year or so, in 1874.” The world’s oldest tennis
tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, were first played in London in 1877. The first
Championships culminated a significant debate on how to standardize the rules.
In the U.S. in 1874 Mary Ewing Outerbridge, a young socialite, returned from Bermuda with
a sphairistikè set. She became fascinated by the game of tennis after watching British
army officers play. She laid out a tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket Club at
Camp Washington, Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York. The first American National championship
was played there in September 1880. An Englishman named O.E Woodhouse won the singles title,
and a silver cup worth $100, by defeating Canadian I. F. Hellmuth. There was also a
doubles match which was won by a local pair. There were different rules at each club. The
ball in Boston was larger than the one normally used in New York. On 21 May 1881, the United
States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis Association) was
formed to standardize the rules and organize competitions. The U.S. National Men’s Singles
Championship, now the US Open, was first held in 1881 at the Newport Casino, Newport, Rhode
Island. The U.S. National Women’s Singles Championships were first held in 1887 in Philadelphia.
Tennis also became popular in France, where the French Championships dates to 1891 although
until 1925 it was open only to tennis players who were members of French clubs. Thus, Wimbledon,
the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open (dating to 1905) became and have remained
the most prestigious events in tennis. Together these four events are called the Majors or
Slams (a term borrowed from bridge rather than baseball).
The comprehensive rules promulgated in 1924 by the International Lawn Tennis Federation,
now known as the International Tennis Federation (ITF), have remained largely stable in the
ensuing eighty years, the one major change being the addition of the tie-break system
designed by James Van Alen. That same year, tennis withdrew from the Olympics after the
1924 Games but returned 60 years later as a 21-and-under demonstration event in 1984.
This reinstatement was credited by the efforts by the then ITF President Philippe Chatrier,
ITF General Secretary David Gray and ITF Vice President Pablo Llorens, and support from
IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. The success of the event was overwhelming and
the IOC decided to reintroduce tennis as a full medal sport at Seoul in 1988.
The Davis Cup, an annual competition between men’s national teams, dates to 1900. The analogous
competition for women’s national teams, the Fed Cup, was founded as the Federation Cup
in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ITF.
In 1926, promoter C. C. Pyle established the first professional tennis tour with a group
of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. The
most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the
Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen. Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in
the major (amateur) tournaments. This resulted in a schism between the amateur and pro tennis
ranks that would last until the advent of the Open Era.
In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table
led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the open era, in which all players
could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from
tennis. With the beginning of the open era, the establishment of an international professional
tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis’s popularity
has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its upper/middle-class English-speaking image
(although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).
In 1954, Van Alen founded the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a non-profit museum in
Newport, Rhode Island. The building contains a large collection of tennis memorabilia as
well as a hall of fame honoring prominent members and tennis players from all over the
world. Each year, a grass-court tournament and an induction ceremony honoring new Hall
of Fame members are hosted on its grounds Equipment
Part of the appeal of tennis stems from the simplicity of equipment required for play.
Beginners need only a racquet and balls. Racquets
The components of a tennis racquet include a handle, known as the grip, connected to
a neck which joins a roughly elliptical frame that holds a matrix of tightly pulled strings.
For the first 100 years of the modern game, racquets were of wood and of standard size,
and strings were of animal gut. Laminated wood construction yielded more strength in
racquets used through most of the 20th century until first metal and then composites of carbon
graphite, ceramics, and lighter metals such as titanium were introduced. These stronger
materials enabled the production of over-sized racquets that yielded yet more power. Meanwhile
technology led to the use of synthetic strings that match the feel of gut yet with added
durability. Under modern rules of tennis, the racquets
must adhere to the following guidelines; The hitting area, composed of the strings,
must be flat and generally uniform. The frame of the hitting area may not be more
than 29 inches in length and 12.5 inches in width.
The entire racquet must be of a fixed shape, size, weight, and weight distribution. There
may not be any energy source built into the racquets.
The racquets must not provide any kind of communication, instruction or advice to the
player during the match. The rules regarding racquets have changed
over time, as material and engineering advances have been made. For example, the maximum length
of the frame had been 32 inches until 1997, when it was shortened to 29 inches.
Many companies manufacture and distribute tennis racquets. Wilson, Head and Babolat
are some of the more commonly used brands; however, many more companies exist. The same
companies sponsor players to use these racquets in the hopes that the company name will become
more well known by the public. Balls
Tennis balls came a long way from being made out of cloth strips, which were stitched together
with thread. Tennis balls are made of hollow rubber with a felt coating. Traditionally
white, the predominant color was gradually changed to optic Yellow in the latter part
of the 20th century to allow for improved visibility. Tennis balls must conform to certain
criteria for size, weight, deformation, and bounce criteria to be approved for regulation
play. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) defines the official diameter as 65.41-68.58 mm
(2.575-2.700 inches). Balls must weigh between 56.0 g and 59.4 g (1.975-2.095 ounces).
Miscellaneous Advanced players improve their performance
through a number of accoutrements. Vibration dampers may be interlaced in the proximal
part of the string array for improved feel. Racquet handles may be customized with absorbent
or rubber-like materials to improve the players’ grip. Players often use sweat bands on their
wrists to keep their hands dry as well. Finally, although the game can be played in a variety
of shoes, specialized tennis shoes have wide, flat soles for stability and a built-up front
structure to avoid excess wear. Manner of play
Court Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface,
usually grass, clay, a hardcourt of concrete, and 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. It is held up by either
a metal cable or cord that can be no more than 0.8 cm (1/3 inch). The net is 3 feet
6 inches (1.07 m) high at the posts and 3 feet (0.914 m) high in the center. The
net posts are 3 feet (0.914 m) outside the doubles court on each side or, for a singles
net, 3 feet (0.914 m) outside the singles court on each side.
The modern tennis court owes its design to Major Walter Clopton Wingfield who, in 1873,
patented a court much the same as the current one for his stické tennis (sphairistike).
This template was modified in 1875 to the court design that exists today, with markings
similar to Wingfield’s version, but with the hourglass shape of his court changed to a
rectangle. 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.
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. The
choice to be server or receiver in the first game and the choice of ends is decided by
a toss before the warm-up starts. Service alternates game by game between the two players
(or teams.) For each point, the server starts behind the 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 over
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 retakes 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 Game, set, match
Game 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” or “van in” when the serving player is ahead, and “ad out”
or “van out” when the receiving player is ahead.
The score of a tennis game during play is always read with the serving player’s score
first. In tournament play, the chair umpire calls the point count (e.g., “fifteen-love”)
after each point. At the end of a game, the chair umpire also announces the winner of
the game and the overall score. Set
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. Only
in the final sets of matches at the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, the Olympic
Games, Davis Cup, and Fed Cup are tie-breaks not played. In these cases, sets are played
indefinitely until one player has a two-game lead. A “love” set means that the loser of
the set won zero games, colloquially termed a ‘jam donut’ in the USA. In tournament play,
the chair umpire announces the winner of the set and the overall score. The final score
in sets is always read with the winning player’s score first, e.g. “6–2, 4–6, 6–0, 7–5”.
Match A match consists of a sequence of sets. The
outcome is determined through a best of three or five sets system. Recreational players
may agree to play any number of sets, depending upon time availability or stamina. On the
professional circuit, men play best-of-five-set matches at all four Grand Slam tournaments,
Davis Cup, and the final of the Olympic Games and best-of-three-set matches at all other
tournaments, while women play best-of-three-set matches at all tournaments. The first player
to win two sets in a best-of-three, or three sets in a best-of-five, wins the match.
In tournament play, the chair umpire announces the end of the match with the well-known phrase
“Game, set, match” followed by the winning person’s or team’s name.
Special point terms Game point
A game point occurs in tennis whenever the player who is in the lead in the game needs
only one more point to win the game. The terminology is extended to sets (set point), matches (match
point), and even championships (championship point). For example, if the player who is
serving has a score of 40-love, the player has a triple game point (triple set point,
etc.) as the player has three consecutive chances to win the game. Game points, set
points, and match points are not part of official scoring and are not announced by the chair
umpire in tournament play. Break point
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 referred to as breaking back. At least
one break of serve is required to win a set. Rule variations
No ad Pro set
Match tie-break Another, however informal, tennis format is
called Canadian doubles. This involves three players, with one person playing a doubles
team. The single player gets to utilize the alleys normally reserved only for a doubles
team. Conversely, the doubles team does not use the alleys when executing a shot. The
scoring is the same as a regular game. This format is not sanctioned by any official body.
“Australian doubles”, another informal and unsanctioned form of tennis, is played with
similar rules to the Canadian doubles style, only in this version, players rotate court
position after each game. As such, each player plays doubles and singles over the course
of a match, with the singles player always serving. Scoring styles vary, but one popular
method is to assign a value of 2 points to each game, with the server taking both points
if he or she holds serve and the doubles team each taking one if they break serve.
Wheelchair tennis can be played by able-bodied players as well as people who require a wheelchair
for mobility. An extra bounce is permitted. This rule makes it possible to have mixed
wheelchair and able-bodied matches. It is possible for a doubles team to consist of
a wheelchair player and an able-bodied player (referred to as “one-up, one-down”), or for
a wheelchair player to play against an able-bodied player. In such cases, the extra bounce is
permitted for the wheelchair users only. Surface
There are five types of court surface used in professional play. Each surface is different
in the speed and height of the bounce of the ball. The same surface plays faster indoors
than outdoors. Clay
Hard Grass
Carpet Wood
Officials In most professional play and some amateur
competition, there is an officiating head judge or chair umpire (usually referred to
as the umpire), who sits in a raised chair to one side of the court. The umpire has absolute
authority to make factual determinations. The umpire may be assisted by line judges,
who determine whether the ball has landed within the required part of the court and
who also call foot faults. There also may be a net judge who determines whether the
ball has touched the net during service. The umpire has the right to overrule a line judge
or a net judge if the umpire is sure that a clear mistake has been made.
In some tournaments, line judges who would be calling the serve, were assisted by electronic
sensors that beeped to indicate the serve was out. This system was called “Cyclops”.
Cyclops has since largely been replaced by the Hawk-Eye system. In professional tournaments
using this system, players are allowed three unsuccessful appeals per set, plus one additional
appeal in the tie-break to challenge close line calls by means of an electronic review.
The US Open, Miami Masters, US Open Series, and World Team Tennis started using this challenge
system in 2006 and the Australian Open and Wimbledon introduced the system in 2007. In
clay-court matches, such as at the French Open, a call may be questioned by reference
to the mark left by the ball’s impact on the court surface.
The referee, who is usually located off the court, is the final authority about tennis
rules. When called to the court by a player or team captain, the referee may overrule
the umpire’s decision if the tennis rules were violated (question of law) but may not
change the umpire’s decision on a question of fact. If, however, the referee is on the
court during play, the referee may overrule the umpire’s decision (This would only happen
in Davis Cup or Fed Cup matches, not at the World Group level, when a chair umpire from
a non-neutral country is in the chair). Ball boys and girls may be employed to retrieve
balls, pass them to the players, and hand players their towels. They have no adjudicative
role. In rare events (e.g., if they are hurt or if they have caused a hindrance), the umpire
may ask them for a statement of what actually happened. The umpire may consider their statements
when making a decision. In some leagues, especially junior leagues, players make their own calls,
trusting each other to be honest. This is the case for many school and university level
matches. The referee or referee’s assistant, however, can be called on court at a player’s
request, and the referee or assistant may change a player’s call. In unofficiated matches,
a ball is out only if the player entitled to make the call is sure that the ball is
out. Junior tennis
In tennis, a junior is a player 18 and under who is still legally protected by a parent
or guardian. Players on the main adult tour who are under 18 must have documents signed
by a parent or guardian. These players, however, are still eligible to play in junior tournaments.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) conducts a junior tour that allows juniors
to establish a world ranking and an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or Women’s Tennis
Association (WTA) ranking. Most juniors who enter the international circuit do so by progressing
through ITF, Satellite, Future, and Challenger tournaments before entering the main circuit.
The latter three circuits also have adults competing in them. Some juniors, however,
such as Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Frenchman Gaël Monfils, have catapulted directly from
the junior tour to the ATP tour by dominating the junior scene or by taking advantage of
opportunities given to them to participate in professional tournaments.
In 2004, the ITF implemented a new rankings scheme to encourage greater participation
in doubles, by combining two rankings (singles and doubles) into one combined tally. Junior
tournaments do not offer prize money except for the Grand Slam tournaments, which are
the most prestigious junior events. Juniors may earn income from tennis by participating
in the Future, Satellite, or Challenger tours. Tournaments are broken up into different tiers
offering different amounts of ranking points, culminating with Grade A.
Leading juniors are allowed to participate for their nation in the Junior Fed Cup and
Davis Cup competitions. To succeed in tennis often means having to begin playing at a young
age. To facilitate and nurture a junior’s growth in tennis, almost all tennis playing
nations have developed a junior development system. Juniors develop their play through
a range of tournaments on all surfaces, accommodating all different standards of play. Talented
juniors may also receive sponsorships from governing bodies or private institutions.
Match play Continuity
A tennis match is intended to be continuous. Because stamina is a relevant factor, arbitrary
delays are not permitted. In most cases, service is required to occur no more than 20 seconds
after the end of the previous point. This is increased to 90 seconds when the players
change ends (after every odd-numbered game), and a 2-minute break is permitted between
sets. Other than this, breaks are permitted only when forced by events beyond the players’
control, such as rain, damaged footwear, damaged racquet, or the need to retrieve an errant
ball. Should a player be determined to be stalling repeatedly, the chair umpire may
initially give a warning followed by subsequent penalties of “point”, “game”, and default
of the match for the player who is consistently taking longer than the allowed time limit.
In the event of a rain delay, darkness or other external conditions halting play, the
match is resumed at a later time, with the same score as at the time of the delay, and
the players at the same end of the court when rain halted play, or at the same position
(north or south) if play is resumed on a different court.
Ball changes Balls wear out quickly in serious play and,
therefore, in ATP and WTA tournaments, they are changed after every nine games with the
first change occurring after only seven games, because the first set of balls is also used
for the pre-match warm-up. As a courtesy to the receiver, the server will often signal
to the receiver before the first serve of the game in which new balls are used as a
reminder that they are using new balls. However, in ITF tournaments like Fed Cup, the balls
are changed in a 9–11 style. Continuity of the balls’ condition is considered part
of the game, so if a re-warm-up is required after an extended break in play (usually due
to rain), then the re-warm-up is done using a separate set of balls, and use of the match
balls is resumed only when play resumes. On-court coaching
A recent rule change is to allow coaching on court on a limited basis during a match.
This has been introduced in women’s tennis for WTA Tour events in 2009 and allows the
player to request her coach once per set. Shots
A competent tennis player has eight basic shots in his or her repertoire: the serve,
forehand, backhand, volley, half-volley, overhead smash, drop shot, and lob.
Grip A grip is a way of holding the racquet in
order to hit shots during a match. The grip affects the angle of the racquet face when
it hits the ball and influences the pace, spin, and placement of the shot. Players use
various grips during play, including the Continental (The “Handshake Grip”), Eastern (Can be either
semi-eastern or full eastern. Usually used for backhands.), and Western (semi-western
or full western, usually for forehand grips) grips. Most players change grips during a
match depending on what shot they are hitting; for example, slice shots and serves call for
a Continental grip. Serve
A serve (or, more formally, a “service”) in tennis is a shot to start a point. The serve
is initiated by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it (usually near the apex
of its trajectory) into the diagonally opposite service box without touching the net. The
serve may be hit under- or overhand although underhand serving remains a rarity. If the
ball hits the net on the first serve and bounces over into the correct diagonal box then it
is called a “let” and the server gets two more additional serves to get it in. There
can also be a let if the server serves the ball and the receiver isn’t prepared. If
the server misses his or her first serve and gets a let on the second serve, then they
get one more try to get the serve in the box. Experienced players strive to master the conventional
overhand serve to maximize its power and placement. The server may employ different types of serve
including flat serve, topspin serve, slice serve, and kick (American twist) serve. A
reverse type of spin serve is hit in a manner that spins the ball opposite the natural spin
of the server, the spin direction depending upon right- or left-handedness. If the ball
is spinning counterclockwise, it will curve right from the hitter’s point of view and
curve left if spinning clockwise. Some servers are content to use the serve
simply to initiate the point; however, advanced players often try to hit a winning shot with
their serve. A winning serve that is not touched by the opponent is called an “ace”.
Forehand For a right-handed player, the forehand is
a stroke that begins on the right side of the body, continues across the body as contact
is made with the ball, and ends on the left side of the body. There are various grips
for executing the forehand, and their popularity has fluctuated over the years. The most important
ones are the continental, the eastern, the semi-western, and the western. For a number
of years, the small, frail 1920s player Bill Johnston was considered by many to have had
the best forehand of all time, a stroke that he hit shoulder-high using a western grip.
Few top players used the western grip after the 1920s, but in the latter part of the 20th
century, as shot-making techniques and equipment changed radically, the western forehand made
a strong comeback and is now used by many modern players. No matter which grip is used,
most forehands are generally executed with one hand holding the racquet, but there have
been fine players with two-handed forehands. In the 1940s and 50s, the Ecuadorian/American
player Pancho Segura used a two-handed forehand to achieve a devastating effect against larger,
more powerful players. Players such as Monica Seles or France’s Fabrice Santoro and Marion
Bartoli are also notable players known for their two-handed forehands.
Backhand For right-handed players, the backhand is
a stroke that begins on the left side of their body, continues across their body as contact
is made with the ball, and ends on the right side of their body. It can be executed with
either one hand or with both and is generally considered more difficult to master than the
forehand. For most of the 20th century, the backhand was performed with one hand, using
either an eastern or a continental grip. The first notable players to use two hands were
the 1930s Australians Vivian McGrath and John Bromwich, but they were lonely exceptions.
The two-handed grip gained popularity in the 1970s as Björn Borg, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors,
and later Mats Wilander and Marat Safin used it to great effect, and it is now used by
a large number of the world’s best players, including Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.
Two hands give the player more control, while one hand can generate a slice shot, applying
backspin on the ball to produce a low trajectory bounce. Reach is also limited with the two-handed
shot. The player long considered to have had the best backhand of all time, Don Budge,
had a powerful one-handed stroke in the 1930s and 1940s that imparted topspin onto the ball.
Ken Rosewall, another player noted for his one-handed backhand, used a very accurate
slice backhand through the 1950s and 1960s. A small number of players, notably Monica
Seles, use two hands on both the backhand and forehand sides.
Other shots A volley is a shot returned to the opponent
in mid-air before the ball bounces, generally performed near the net, and is usually made
with a stiff-wristed punching motion to hit the ball into an open area of the opponent’s
court. The half volley is made by hitting the ball on the rise just after it has bounced,
also generally in the vicinity of the net, and played with the racquet close to the ground.
The swinging volley is hit out of the air as the player approaches the net. It is an
offensive shot used to take preparation time away from the opponent, as it returns the
ball into the opponent’s court much faster than a standard volley.
From a poor defensive position on the baseline, the lob can be used as either an offensive
or defensive weapon, hitting the ball high and deep into the opponent’s court to either
enable the lobber to get into better defensive position or to win the point outright by hitting
it over the opponent’s head. If the lob is not hit deeply enough into the other court,
however, an opponent near the net may then hit an overhead smash, a hard, serve-like
shot, to try to end the point. If an opponent is deep in his court, a player
may suddenly employ an unexpected drop shot, by softly tapping the ball just over the net
so that the opponent is unable to run in fast enough to retrieve it. Advanced players will
often apply back spin to a drop shot, causing the ball to “skid” upon landing and bounce
sideways, with less forward momentum toward their opponent, or even backwards towards
the net, thus making it even more difficult to return.
Tournaments Tournaments are often organized by gender
and number of players. Common tournament configurations include men’s singles, women’s singles, and
doubles, where two players play on each side of the net. Tournaments may be organized for
specific age groups, with upper age limits for youth and lower age limits for senior
players. Example of this include the Orange Bowl and Les Petits As junior tournaments.
There are also tournaments for players with disabilities, such as wheelchair tennis and
deaf tennis. In the four Grand Slam tournaments, the singles draws are limited to 128 players
for each gender. Most large tournaments seed players, but players
may also be matched by their skill level. According to how well a person does in sanctioned
play, a player is given a rating that is adjusted periodically to maintain competitive matches.
For example, the United States Tennis Association administers the National Tennis Rating Program
(NTRP), which rates players between 1.0 and 7.0 in 1/2 point increments. Average club
players under this system would rate 3.0–4.5 while world class players would be 7.0 on
this scale. Grand Slam tournaments
The four Grand Slam tournaments are considered to be the most prestigious tennis events in
the world. They are held annually and comprise, in chronological order, the Australian Open,
the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Apart from the Olympic Games, Davis Cup, Fed
Cup, and Hopman Cup, they are the only tournaments regulated by the International Tennis Federation
(ITF). The ITF’s national associations, Tennis Australia (Australian Open), the Fédération
Française de Tennis (French Open), the Lawn Tennis Association (Wimbledon) and the United
States Tennis Association (US Open) are delegated the responsibility to organize these events.
Aside from the historical significance of these events, they also carry larger prize
funds than any other tour event and are worth double the number of ranking points to the
champion than in the next echelon of tournaments, the Masters 1000 (men) and Premier events
(women). Another distinguishing feature is the number of players in the singles draw.
There are 128, more than any other professional tennis tournament. This draw is composed of
32 seeded players, other players ranked in the world’s top 100, qualifiers, and players
who receive invitations through wild cards. Grand Slam men’s tournaments have best-of-five
set matches while the women play best-of-three. Grand Slam tournaments are among the small
number of events that last two weeks, the others being the Indian Wells Masters and
the Miami Masters. Currently, the Grand Slam tournaments are
the only tour events that have mixed doubles contests. Grand Slam tournaments are held
in conjunction with wheelchair tennis tournaments and junior tennis competitions. These tournaments
also contain their own idiosyncrasies. For example, players at Wimbledon are required
to wear predominantly white. Andre Agassi chose to skip Wimbledon from 1988 through
1990 citing the event’s traditionalism, particularly its “predominantly white” dress code. Wimbledon
has its own particular methods for disseminating tickets, often leading tennis fans to follow
complex procedures to obtain tickets. * The international tournament began in 1925
Men’s tournament structure Masters 1000
The ATP World Tour Masters 1000 is a group of nine tournaments that form the second-highest
echelon in men’s tennis. Each event is held annually, and a win at one of these events
is worth 1000 ranking points. When the ATP, led by Hamilton Jordan, began running the
men’s tour in 1990, the directors designated the top nine tournaments, outside of the Grand
Slam events, as “Super 9” events. In 2000 this became the Tennis Masters Series and
in 2004 the ATP Masters Series. In November at the end of the tennis year, the world’s
top eight players compete in the ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament with a rotating
locale. It is currently held in London, England. In August 2007 the ATP announced major changes
to the tour that were introduced in 2009. The Masters Series was renamed to the “Masters
1000”, the addition of the number 1000 referring to the number of ranking points earned by
the winner of each tournament. Contrary to earlier plans, the number of tournaments was
not reduced from nine to eight and the Monte Carlo Masters remains part of the series although,
unlike the other events, it does not have a mandatory player commitment. The Hamburg
Masters has been downgraded to a 500 point event. The Madrid Masters moved to May and
onto clay courts, and a new tournament in Shanghai took over Madrid’s former indoor
October slot. As of 2011 six of the nine “1000” level tournaments are combined ATP and WTA
events. 250 and 500 Series
The third and fourth tier of men’s tennis tournaments are formed by the ATP World Tour
500 series, consisting of 11 tournaments, and the ATP World Tour 250 series with 40
tournaments. Like the ATP World Tour Masters 1000, these events offer various amounts of
prize money and the numbers refer to the amount of ranking points earned by the winner of
a tournament. The Dubai Tennis Championships offer the largest financial incentive to players,
with total prize money of US$2,313,975 (2012). These series have various draws of 28, 32,
48 and 56 for singles and 16 and 24 for doubles. It is mandatory for leading players to enter
at least four 500 events, including at least one after the US Open.
Challenger Tour and Futures tournaments The Challenger Tour for men is the lowest
level of tournament administered by the ATP. It is composed of about 150 events and, as
a result, features a more diverse range of countries hosting events. The majority of
players use the Challenger Series at the beginning of their career to work their way up the rankings.
Andre Agassi, between winning Grand Slam tournaments, plummeted to World No. 141 and used Challenger
Series events for match experience and to progress back up the rankings. The Challenger
Series offers prize funds of between US$25,000 and US$150,000.
Below the Challenger Tour are the Futures tournaments, events on the ITF Men’s Circuit.
These tournaments also contribute towards a player’s ATP rankings points. Futures Tournaments
offer prize funds of between US$10,000 and US$15,000. Approximately 530 Futures Tournaments
are played each year. Women’s tournament structure
Premier events Premier events for women form the most prestigious
level of events on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour after the Grand Slam tournaments. These
events offer the largest rewards in terms of points and prize money. Within the Premier
category are Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, and Premier tournaments. The Premier events
were introduced in 2009 replacing the previous Tier I and II tournament categories. Currently
four tournaments are Premier Mandatory, five tournaments are Premier 5, and twelve tournaments
are Premier. The first tiering system in women’s tennis was introduced in 1988. At the time
of its creation, only two tournaments, the Lipton International Players Championships
in Florida and the German Open in Berlin, comprised the Tier I category.
International events International tournaments are the second main
tier of the WTA tour and consist of 31 tournaments, with a prize money for every event at U.S.$220,000,
except for the year-ending Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, which has
prize money of U.S.$600,000. Players
Professional players Professional tennis players enjoy the same
relative perks as most top sports personalities: clothing, equipment and endorsements. Like
players of other individual sports such as golf, they are not salaried, but must play
and finish highly in tournaments to obtain money. As of 2012 the “Big Four” men’s tennis
players includes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray. These four
players being able to dominate most of the grand slams.
In recent years, some controversy has surrounded the involuntary or deliberate noise caused
by players’ grunting. Grand Slam tournament winners
The following players have won at least five singles titles at Grand Slam tournaments:
Roger Federer (17) Pete Sampras (14)
Rafael Nadal (13) Roy Emerson (12)
Rod Laver (11) Björn Borg (11)
Bill Tilden (10) Fred Perry (8)
Ken Rosewall (8) Jimmy Connors (8)
Ivan Lendl (8) Andre Agassi (8)
William Renshaw (7) Richard Sears (7)
William Larned (7) Henri Cochet (7)
Rene Lacoste (7) John Newcombe (7)
John McEnroe (7) Mats Wilander (7)
Novak Djokovic (6) Lawrence Doherty (6)
Anthony Wilding (6) Donald Budge (6)
Jack Crawford (6) Boris Becker (6)
Stefan Edberg (6) Frank Sedgman (5)
Tony Trabert (5) Margaret Court (24)
Steffi Graf (22) Helen Wills Moody (19)
Chris Evert (18) Martina Navratilova (18)
Serena Williams (17) Billie Jean King (12)
Maureen Connolly Brinker (9) Monica Seles (9)
Suzanne Lenglen (8) Molla Bjurstedt Mallory (8)
Dorothea Lambert Chambers (7) Maria Bueno (7)
Evonne Goolagong Cawley (7) Venus Williams (7)
Justine Henin (7) Doris Hart (6)
Blanche Bingley Hillyard (6) Margaret Osborne duPont (6)
Nancye Wynne Bolton (6) Louise Brough Clapp (6)
Lottie Dod (5) Charlotte Cooper Sterry (5)
Daphne Akhurst Cozens (5) Helen Jacobs (5)
Alice Marble (5) Pauline Betz Addie (5)
Althea Gibson (5) Martina Hingis (5)
Greatest male players A frequent topic of discussion among tennis
fans and commentators is who was the greatest male singles player of all time. By a large
margin, an Associated Press poll in 1950 named Bill Tilden as the greatest player of the
first half of the 20th century. From 1920 to 1930, Tilden won singles titles at Wimbledon
three times and the U.S. Championships seven times. In 1938, however, Donald Budge became
the first person to win all four major singles titles during the same calendar year, the
Grand Slam, and won six consecutive major titles in 1937 and 1938. Tilden called Budge
“the finest player 365 days a year that ever lived.” And in his 1979 autobiography, Jack
Kramer said that, based on consistent play, Budge was the greatest player ever. Some observers,
however, also felt that Kramer deserved consideration for the title. Kramer was among the few who
dominated amateur and professional tennis during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Tony
Trabert has said that of the players he saw before the start of the open era, Kramer was
the best male champion. By the latter half of the 1950s and 1960s,
Budge and others had added Pancho Gonzales and Lew Hoad to the list of contenders. Budge
reportedly believed that Gonzales was the greatest player ever. Gonzales said about
Hoad, “When Lew’s game was at its peak nobody could touch him.  … I think his game was
the best game ever. Better than mine. He was capable of making more shots than anybody.
His two volleys were great. His overhead was enormous. He had the most natural tennis mind
with the most natural tennis physique.” During the open era, first Rod Laver and then
more recently Björn Borg and Pete Sampras were regarded by many of their contemporaries
as among the greatest ever. Andre Agassi, the first of two male players in history to
have achieved a Career Golden Slam in singles tennis (followed by Rafael Nadal), has been
called the best service returner in the history of the game. He is the first man to win slams
on all modern surfaces (previous holders of all slams played in an era of grass and clay
only), and is regarded by a number of critics and fellow players to be among the greatest
players of all time. Roger Federer is now considered by many observers
to have the most “complete” game in modern tennis. He has won 17 grand slam titles, the
most for any male player. Many experts of tennis, former tennis players and his own
tennis peers believe Federer is the greatest player in the history of the game. Federer’s
biggest rival Rafael Nadal is regarded as the greatest competitor in tennis history
by some former players and is regarded to have the potential to be the greatest of all
time. He’s already regarded as the greatest clay court player of all time.
Greatest female players As with the men there are frequent discussions
about who is the greatest female singles player of all time with Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova
being the two players most often nominated. In March 2012 the TennisChannel published
a combined list of the 100 greatest men and women tennis players of all time. It ranked
Steffi Graf as the greatest female player (in 3rd place overall), followed by Martina
Navratilova (4th place) and Margaret Court (8th place). The rankings were determined
by an international panel. Sportwriter John Wertheim of Sports Illustrated
stated in an article in July 2010 that Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player
ever with the argument that “Head-to-head, on a neutral surface (i.e. hard courts), everyone
at their best, I can’t help feeling that she crushes the other legends.”. In a reaction
to this article Yahoo sports blog Busted Racket published a list of the top-10 women’s tennis
players of all time placing Martina Navratilova in first spot. This top-10 list was similar
to the one published in June 2008 by the Bleacher Report who also ranked Martina Navratilova
as the top female player of all time. Steffi Graf is considered by some to be the
greatest female player. Billie Jean King said in 1999, “Steffi is definitely the greatest
women’s tennis player of all time.” Martina Navratilova has included Graf on her list
of great players. In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of
the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press. Tennis writer Steve
Flink, in his book The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century, named her as the
best female player of the 20th century, directly followed by Martina Navratilova.
Tennis magazine selected Martina Navratilova as the greatest female tennis player for the
years 1965 through 2005. Tennis historian and journalist Bud Collins has called Navratilova
“arguably, the greatest player of all time.” Billie Jean King said about Navratilova in
2006, “She’s the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.”
In popular culture David Foster Wallace, an amateur tennis player
himself at Urbana High School in Illinois, included tennis in many of his works of nonfiction
and fiction including “Tennis Player Michael Joyce’s Professional Artistry as a Paradigm
of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness,”
the autobiographical piece “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley,” and Infinite Jest, which
is partially set at the fictional “Enfield Tennis Academy” in Massachusetts.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) features Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson), a tennis pro who
suffers from depression and has a breakdown on court in front of thousands of fans.
Wimbledon (2004) is a film about a discouraged pro tennis player (Paul Bettany) who meets
a young woman on the women’s tennis circuit (Kirsten Dunst) who helps him find his drive
to go and win Wimbledon. In The Squid and the Whale (2005), Joan (Laura
Linney) has an affair with her kids’ tennis coach, Ivan (William Baldwin). In a symbolic
scene, Joan’s ex-husband, Bernard (Jeff Daniels), loses a tennis match against Ivan in front
of the kids. Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005) features
a love affair between a former tennis pro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and his best friend’s
fiance (Scarlett Johansson). Confetti (2006) is a mockumentary which sees
three couples competing to win the title of “Most Original Wedding of the Year”. One competing
couple (Meredith MacNeill and Stephen Mangan) are a pair of hyper-competitive professional
tennis players holding a tennis-themed wedding. There are several tennis video games including
Mario Tennis, the TopSpin series, Wii Sports, and Grand Slam Tennis.
In the Japanese anime and manga series known as The Prince of Tennis, the main character
is Ryoma Echizen, a young tennis prodigy.

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Dennis Veasley

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