Racquets, Rackets or Racquetball, is a game played in a prepared court, open or close, with a small hard ball and a kind of bat. The bat is about two feet in length, about two-thirds of which forms the shaft or handle, the remainder being an oval frame on which is tightly stretched a net-work of cat-gut. The part of the shaft by which the bat is held is covered with leather and ribbed, to enable the player to grasp it firmly.
It is from this bat and the net-work, which is its principal feature, that the game derives its name (Italian, racchetta, for retich et ta, an old diminutive of rete, Latin and Italian, a net ; French, raquette).
The close, that is, roofed court, is now generally preferred. It is an oblong rectangular space, and when of full dimensions is 80 feet long, 40 feet broad and has walls 40 feet high.
The players stand facing one of the narrow wans, which is called the front wall. Two horizontal lines are drawn across the front wall, one two feet two inches, and the other, the out or service line, eight feet above the floor. The surface between the floor and the lower of these lines is covered with wood, which serves as a soundingboard to enable the players to know when it is struck by the ball.
The game may be played either single or double, that is, with eith er one or two persons on each side. It is decided by lot which side goes in first, and when there is only one player on each side the first player assumes which side of the court he pleases (usually the right), while the other stands in the opposite corner. The first player then begins to serve, in doing which he must have one foot in the service box of his side.
Service consists in striking the ball with the bat so as to make it strike the front wall above the outline without previously striking any other part of the court, and then rebound into the opposite corner beyond the short line. In rebounding from the front waJl it does not matter whether the ball strikes on the floor in the opposite corner of the court. If the ball is properly served the second player must strike it before it has made a second bound, so that it strikes the front wall above the board; but in returning the ball in this manner the player may if he likes first make it strike either of the side walls.
The player to whom a ball is served does not need to wait till the ball has bounded from the floor before he returns it. He may return it before it touches the floor. Such a stroke is called a voney. The ban being thus returned by the second player, the first player returns the ball in the same way, and this goes on ulltil either player fails, which may happen in three ways, either by the ball being made to hit the sounding-board, or being struck into the roof or gallery, or later than the first bound. If it is the first player who fails, his hand is out, and it is then the turn of the second player to serve. If it is the second player, then the first scores one (an ace), and the first continues to serve, but goes to the opposite side of the court. The other details of the game must be derived from the rules drawn up by the different racquet clubs.
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