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Tennis. How it began.


Not only each professional or beginning athlete, but also an amateur must know the history of origin and development of his favorite sport. The knowledge of tennis past will help to understand the trends of its development today and tomorrow and will increase not only our general sport, but also intellectual level. Furthermore, as practice shows, without the knowledge of prehistory of origin and development of this form of sport, its rules, technique and tactics it is not possible to properly achieve real successes not only on the professional, but also at the amateur level. Where did the name «tennis» appear from? What is the connection between tennis, French «Jeu de Paume» and Italian «Pllone»? Why at first glance in this form of sport the system of calculating the score is so strange? What year was the first tennis tournament carried out? You will be able to find answers to these and many other questions, after reading this article.
Together with badminton, baseball, squash, table tennis and volleyball, real tennis relates to the class of ball games and is known in Europe for more than 700 years. If we do not take into consideration games of Ancient Greeks and Romans, where the ball was repelled by hand or wooden bat, then the first references about the game similar to tennis, can be found in XII — XIII centuries in Italy. Game was called «Dzhidoko», and ball in it was repelled by the glove that was worn on a hand, by wooden shield or by leather belt.

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In the XIV century French nobility was already fascinated by the so-called «palm game» («Jeu de Paume»), which had a great impact on the development of contemporary tennis. Simultaneously this game began to be played in England, Italy and Spain. Moreover, in all these countries future tennis was called differently: in England — «the game of the palm», in Italy — «Pllone», in Spain «Long -pom» or «curt -pom». At first tennis was played not only by palms of hands, but cork ball was used, sheathed by the skin. Since that kind of ball bounced badly from the earth, tennis was played predominantly in special halls with stone flooring -«ballhaus». It is interesting that many years since, celebrations with music and dances began to be carried out in those halls, and were called according to their place of conducting — i.e. «balls». Starting from 16 centuries, balls began to be repelled by racquets. A similar variety of former «game by palms» obtained acknowledgement, first of all, among Englishmen, who gave it the name real tennis.
Leather balls, with which they played in those days, were well-packed by sawdust, clothes, grass and etc., and as it was already mentioned, they could only bounce of hard surfaces. With the advent of rubber balls lawn games became possible. This became the turning point in the development of tennis, which with rapid rates became popular thus far only predominantly in Misty Albion. It is interesting to know, that the court, on which tennis was played at that time had a form of hourglass.
The first club for tennis amateurs was founded in 1872. in a town Leamington (near Birmingham) by Major Thomas Henry Gem and his friend Batista Pereira, a Spanish merchant. However, the name of the game — lawn-tennis — was introduced by Major Walter Wingfield during March 1874. The prehistory of the appearance of this name is such. Wingfield published a book «Sphairistike», that in translation from Greek means «the ball game», and after a certain period of time changed the name of the book to «Lawn-tennis». He was the very man, who attempted to formulate the rules of the game. Furthermore, this enterprising serviceman became the first, to sell tennis equipment. For five guineas (by the way, a very decent sum for those years, for example, Sherlock Holmes gave a «shilling for everyone» for the information (shilling 1/21 Guinea)) Wingfield sold tennis kits, which consisted of several balls, four racquets and net.
First Rules, First Wimbledon, First Conflicts

The official rules of the game were introduced in1875 in London by «Marylebone Croquet Club». These rules with some changes and additions act to these days.
In 1869 «All-English Croquet Club» was developed. Six years later one of its members, Henry Jones, proposed the game of tennis to the club. The new game rapidly became popular, and as far back as 1877, the name of the club changed to «All-English Croquet and lawn-tennis club». Today the club is known under the name of «All-English lawn-tennis and Croquet club», but more widely it is known as Wimbledon.
The first official tennis championship took place at Wimbledon in1877. Its winner became Spencer Gore, who won in the final over William Marshall. In 1877 English tourists resting at the Homburg health resort introduced the new game to Germans. In four years the first German tennis club appeared in Baden- Baden (LTC rot Wei), and in 1892 the first international championship took place there. Finally, in 1913 International Tennis Federation was formed (ITF), which until 1977 had a name «International Lawn- tennis Federation» (ILTF).
At first tennis was the game exclusive of aristocrats, and only into the 1920s, when the best athletes — AmericanBill Tilden, French «musketeers» Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jacques Brugnon, Jean Borotra and their compatriot Suzanne Lenglen — drew to spectator stands thousands of spectators; simple people were beginning to be drawn to this form of sport.
Soon lawn- tennis became known and popular throughout the whole of Europe. If there were no suitable lawns to play on, tennis amateurs played on cement, asphalt, sandy and cinder courts.
After World War II conflicts between the so-called tennis lovers began occurring, who for the participation in the tournaments obtained illegal prizes, and by professionals, who, after making agreements with managers competed at their own tournaments. Professional tennis was established as early as 1926, when well-known tennis player Suzanne Lenglen contributed 50 000 US dollars for the conducting her tour. Since then professional players were not allowed to the official international competitions, in which only the «amateurs» could participate. Turning point in the history of tennis became the 22 April, 1968. On this day in the south of England in Bournemouth tennis championship took place, where professional tennis players were allowed to take part. From this point on, tennis becomes «open», i.e. everyone is allowed to play without exceptions. Aristocratic «white sport» became people?s sport.
Today tennis is played throughout the world by millions of people of various ages. As of 1998, into the International Tennis Federation (ITF) 190 national federations are included. A number of the so-called open tournaments grows with each year, and today as professionals, so do amateurs, possessing the necessary qualification can participate in any of them.

Smash or slice backhand

Technique of tennis games changed and improved together with the tennis itself. The first lawn- tennis-players played only from the baseline, giving the ball mainly lower spin or combining lower spin with the side spin. Thus they played up to the beginning of the First World War. In the 1920’s the game was played on the whole of the court. Players at the first opportunity moved to the net and tried to finish the drawing of the ball by the service or smash, usually drive. The typical representative of this kind of game was a well-known American W. Tilden. In the second-half of the 1930’s the value of net-game grew. Americans reached the greatest successes here — D. Budge and R. Riggs. Immediately after the serve or receive they moved to the net and tried to deliver the victorious overhead serve or smash. In the 1970’s the majority of world class the tennis-players tried to play from the baseline, carrying out impacts with the backhand and very strong forehand spin. This style of game was aimed at the long exchange of balls, concluding, as a rule, by an error from the opponent or by the precise bypass.
At present the game on the court and on the net both enjoy success. On compound courts the most optimum is the game on the whole of the court, on the grass and smooth acrylic surfaces — at the net.

Tennis and Olympic fire

Into the program of Olympic Games tennis was included in 1896.
Since 1896 championships among men were conducted, and since 1900 — among women. However, subsequently, in 1928 tennis as the form of sport, that became professional, was excluded for several decades by IOC (the International Olympic Committee) from the program of Olympic competitions and was absent from the Olympic Games. Only in 1968 in Mexico City during the XIX Olympic Games an exponential tennis tournament took place. In 1977 IOC during its 79th session, that took place in Prague, recognized the international tennis federation (ITF) as the leader in this form of sport, that answers to the criteria of Olympic charter. However, this Olympic acknowledgement of tennis did not yet indicate its immediate start in the program of Olympic competitions. Tennis was also not represented on the XXII Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. In 1984 during the XXIII Los Angeles Olympic Games an exponential tennis tournament took place.
Only during the XXIV Olympic Games in 1988, after 64 years of interruption, tennis, finally, was returned into the program of official Olympic competitions; moreover in the Olympic tournaments only athletes, who participated in the official team competitions, including for the team of its country in the Davis Cup and Federation Cup are allowed.

Tennis at the Olympic Games

During the time when tennis entered into the program of the games of Olympiads; from 1896 till 1924 inclusively and from1988 till 1996 inclusively, the athletes who conquered the greatest total quantity of Olympic rewards of different merit include: Great Britain — 36 medals (14 gold, 11 silver, 11 bronze). Further follows the USA — 26 medals (14 gold, 4 silver, 8 bronze). France — 15 medals (5 gold, 4 silver, 6 bronze). Germany — 7 medals (2 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze). Spain — 7 medals (5 silver, 2 bronze). Sweden — 7 medals (2 silver, 5 bronze).
Reginald Doherty of Great Britain — THE ONLY TENNIS-PLAYER, who managed to win 3 gold medals in Paris Olympic Games in 1900, in two discharges: male doubles and mixed, in London 1908 — in the male doubles. The YOUNGEST female tennis Olympic champion was an American Jennifer Capriati, who was a little more than16 years old when she won in the 1992 games in Barcelona in the singles. The MOST OVERGROWN proved to be George Hillyard from Great Britain, who was nearly 45 years old, when he was awarded the gold medal in men?s double on the IV London Olympic Games in 1908.
In 2000. in Sydney (Australia) Olympic men?s champion became the Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and among women silver medals were won by his compatriot Elena Dementieva.

The largest international competitions

Wimbledon tournament (conducted since 1877). The tournament is considered as the personal world championship in London on grass court. The open French championship «Rolland Garros» (conducted since1891). The tournament is considered as the personal world championship in Paris on clay.

Cup Davis (conducted since 1900). This tournament is considered as the yearly world championship among male teams, founded in 1900 by one of the strongest tennis-players of that time by American D. Davis.

Federation Cup (conducted since 1963). This tournament is considered as the yearly world championship among female teams. World Tennis Championships are conducted since 1978.

European Championships were conducted in the period 1969-1983.

Main large international tournaments — these are the open championships of Australia, France, England and the USA. Tennis-player, who was able during the year to win all four tournaments, became the possessor of the so-called «Grand Slam Cup».
Answers to the most frequently asked questions

Where did the name «tennis» come from?
It is thought, that at the basis of this name lies the French word «tenne», that means «take, get a hold of». The players attracted attention of their opponents at the beginning of ball game by this call.

Why during the serve the term «service» is used?
The service in the game actually existed. Some high rank representatives of nobility, in particular Henry VIII, the king of England in XVI century, did not serve the balls themselves, but used their servants who served the ball.

Why in tennis the value of each point is evaluated in such an unusual way?
Known even from the times of old-French game the calculation of points is based on the division of twenty-four hours clock (it was played to 24 games). In turn hours were divided by four quarters; each successful ball was made level to one quarter of an hour, i.e.. 15 min corresponded to 15 points. Thus, one game continued to 60 points, and calculations were conducted as follows: 15, 30, 45, 60. In the course of time a number of games was reduced to 6 in one set, and each third successful ball now counts for 10 points, i.e.. instead of 45 it declares by 40.

How do ATP tournaments differ from WTA tournaments?
First of all, a vital difference is in the translation of their abbreviations; ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) is used in the system of ranking male tennis-players, and the second WTA (Women Tennis Association) — female tennis players.

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