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All About Tennis

Updated on December 6, 2010


Tennis is a very enthusiastic and sensational sport.  Its history can be traced back to some 1000 years. The game was first conceived by Europeans, to be performed for amusement reasons, throughout devout ceremonies. Earlier, it was played by hand, then by a gloved hand or a handle and finally it evolved to a racquet. Similarly, the ball was first of wooden then of leather and finally of cellulose material was used.

In 1874, Major Walter Wingfield gained patent rights for the equipment and directions for the game, which is close resemblance to the up-to-date tennis. Various tennis courts established afterwards, in America, Russia, Canada and other parts of the world. The rules and regulations have passed through several major and minor amendments, to reshape modern tennis, which we see and play today.


  •  Tennis court
  •  Tennis net
  •  Racquets
  •  Tennis ball
  •  Clothing & Accessories

Tennis Court:

A tennis court is a rectangular surface area, made up of clay, concrete or grass.

Baselines are lines drawn on the floor of tennis court, parallel to net near the boundary.

Service lines are parallel lines, close to the tennis net.

Alleys are the lines at right angle to the tennis net, running at both sides of the court. These are considered “in” (ball tapping on the line is counted) in doubles, but are not counted in single tennis.

Dimensions Though, the length of a tennis court is 78 feet, its width varies for singles and doubles contests. For singles, the court is 27 feet wide; whereas, in tennis doubles rules, the court width is to be 36 feet.

Tennis Net:

The net, divides the court into two equal halves. The height of the net is 3 feet 6 inches at the posts, and 3 feet at the center. Two service courts are located on each side of the net, each measure 21 feet x 13.5 feet.


 The dimensions of the racquets are given prime importance in tennis. According to tennis racquet rules:

Length of frame and handle:

The frame of racquet, including its handle, should be 29 inches in length and 12.5 inches in width.

The hitting surface:

Even the hitting surface should be 11.5 inches in width and 15.5 inches in length

Tennis Ball:

Diameter of a tennis ball ranges between 65.41 mm and 68.58 mm (2.5 – 2.7 inches) and weighs about 56.7 g to 58.5 g. They are made in a stitch-less manner to be more bouncy. It is yellowish green in color to enhance its visibility during the game. 

Clothing & Accessories:

Clothing and accessories should be like they should not interfere into the game rules. They should in fact, facilitate players while playing. The shoes, for example should not tread mark or damage court’s surface. Also, the shoes should have flat soles for balanced body stature and to avoid pressure on toes.

Players also use sweat bands and absorbent racquet handles to avoid moisture in hands, to maintain their grip during the game.

Basic Game


Toss is done, prior to starting match to give decision authority to one of the teams, in doubles game, who decide to serve/receive the ball. Also, they can choose, which side of the net they want to play from.


The game starts by a serve, which is executed by the players standing near the baseline on the right hand side, which is directed towards the left hand service box. The second player must hit the ball, if service goes in; he or she should either hit the ball before it bounces or let it bounce and then hit it, provided that he knows that the ball would be “in”. Two bounces would be counted as a missed attempt and points would be awarded to the server.


The returner has to hit the ball, to the opposite side of the net, so that, it doesn’t touch net and the ball can fall anywhere in the opposite side (provided that alleys are out). The two players keep on hitting the ball, until one misses and the other gets points.

Server changes and so do the sides of serve, after each point i.e. left hand serve for the second serve and so on.

Basic Rules


If a player misses to serve the ball, hitting it across the net in first two turns, the other player is awarded points equal to 15. When the opponent has no score at this point, it is termed as a “LOVE” and the score is said to be LOVE: 15. Any increase in score is called LOVE, 15, 30... and so on. A tie on 40 score is said to be a DEUCE. The player who wins six games the first, he is the winner of the set. And the one who clean sweeps two sets turns out to be winner of the match.

A tie breaker is played, when the score is leveled and it is played for 7 points. The scorecard, however, shows one point increase, even if, the tie breaker goes in double digits, until the score is settled. The player, who succeeds to get two points, wins the tie. There is no tie breaker in Wimbledon; the 5th set with a difference of 2 games is required for a player to win the set.


The server has to toss the ball and hit it with the middle of racquet. The ball should travel diagonally to the opposite side of the net. The server has to stand away from the base line, while serving, if not, then it is considered as a ‘fault.’ Also, if any of the above given criteria is not fulfilled during a serve, it is regarded as a fault. Moreover, if the ball does not travel to the opposite side of net, falls in the server’s net or it touches the net at any point, it is also a fault.

There are certain penalties in tennis; these usually result in points lost for various things. These are:

  • Catching ball in the racquet
  • Hitting ball twice or before letting it cross the net
  • Touching of ball with anything other than racquet (clothes, foot etc) or carried by the player
  • Throwing racquet or other disrespectful action or body language, or racquet abuse
  • Touching opponents ground, the net or posts or any other person or official in the game


Officials are there during professional tournaments. One to watch the lines to call whether the ball is in or not, whereas, the other one is the senior umpire, who is at a very high chair on one end of the court that calls scores and can overrule all other judges. There is also a match referee, who sits in the stands and watches. He can be consulted in case of conflicts.

Deduction of points or disqualification from the game may result, if one disputes with the judges.


The most renowned tournaments of tennis are the four ‘Grand Slam Tournaments’ namely:

·         Australian Open

·         French Open

·         Wimbledon Open

·         U.S. Open

Wimbledon Open:

  • In 1877, first Wimbledon tennis championship was held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, UK
  • The aim was to hoist wealth to mend a broken roller at the confidential group but, it has grown to become most important tennis event all over the world
  • Women weren't allowed to play until 1884, only men played before, but later on, Ladies and men’s doubles were added
  • Almost 60 nations take part in this event from around the world. The women and men are paid equally for the titles, since 2007
  • The Wimbledon Championship is only Grand Slam Tournament to have distinction that, it is still played on grass
  • The first year, the players were clothed in hats and ties and were not permitted to wear heels
  • The colors of Wimbledon have always been purple and green with the players wearing almost all white. The hand sewn tennis balls were used initially
  • The Wimbledon Championship was first carried on at a private gathering positioned off Worple Road; now the club has relocated to Church Road since 1922
  • Dunlop Slazenger has supplied tennis balls for the Wimbledon Championship, since 1902
  • The men's records champion wins a shiny gilt cup and the ladies' records champion wins a sterling shiny salver renowned as the Rosewater Dish

French Open:

  • The French Open was first played at the Stade de France in 1891; initially, only French residents specifically, only men could compete in it, so, it was a closed competition
  • In the 1920’s, it moved to Tournoi de Roland-Garros stadium, and eventually it became open to women and international competitors
  • The first true French Open tennis tournament was played at the Stade de Roland-Garros in 1925
  • Today, the French Open is second Grand Slam Tournament of tennis world and the premier French Open tennis event is one of the competitions being opened for international players since 1925
  • The tournament still was not “open” in modern sense, as all the players were classified as amateurs at that time
  • Tenniseum,” a museum dedicated to French Open history is present in ‘The Stade de Roland-Garros’

U.S. Open:

  • The U.S. Open history originated being an exclusive sport for the “elite class,” in which, the U.S. Open tennis champion could win $17 million
  • An average, over 600 men and women could compete in this high cash event, each year
  • The US Open comprised of two separate tournaments: the men's tournament and the women's tournament
  • In 1881, the first event in the Men’s Tournament took place at Newport. It was a championship called U.S. National Singles Championship for men
  • In 1887, the U.S. Women’s National Singles Championship took place at the Philadelphia Cricket Club
  • In 1889, the U.S. Women’s National Doubles Championship was held along with the U.S. Mixed Doubles Championship

First U.S. Open:

  • A merger of five events at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens in 1968 gave birth to the “U.S Open”
  • The title was worth a total of $100 thousand dollars and had 159 male and female players in it
  • The U.S. open was initially played on grass, which was changed to clay later on and finally in 1978, it was changed to Deco Turf, which is more commonly known as “hard courts”

Australian Open:

  • One of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world
  • Similar to the other Grand Slam tournaments, the event carries men’s and women's singles competitions; men's, women's, and mixed doubles; and junior's and master's competitions
  • The Australian history can be traced back to the year 1905, at Warehouseman's Cricket Ground in St Kilda Road, Melbourne. The tournament is arranged by Tennis Australia, initially, it was known as Lawn Tennis Association of Australia (LTAA).
  • At first, the event was known as ‘The Australasian Championships’, which was changed to ‘The Australian Championships,’ in 1927. Yet, another change in name was given in the year 1969, when it was renamed to ‘Australian Open’, as it is known today.
  • The tournament did not attract foreign players until 1946, due to the distant location of Australia
  • By the 1960s, Australia had dominated world forum of tennis, with majority of the top class players being Australians
  • It was then decided to move Australian Open to Flinder’s Park, located next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was posed as the most ideal place, which appeared as a popular choice by both players and spectators
  • It was only in 1988 that the championship was held on hard courts rather than on grass courts


  • It was held at five Australian and two New Zealand cities
  • While, most of the times, the event was organized at Melbourne. Other cities included were Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Christchurch and Hastings
  • It was only in 1972 that the Australian Open was permanently housed at Melbourne


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    • ptrguy profile image

      Thomas Daniels 

      5 years ago from Kobe, Japan

      Nice article, but it would be good if you can tell us the future of the game and where you see it going.


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