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The sport of tennis has been played for hundreds of years, but the game as it is known today is little more than a century old. In 1877 the All England Croquet Club changed its name to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club an held the first Wimbledon Championships in July 1877.
The referee was Henry Jones who devised the rules for the tournament, i.e. scoring system, rectangular court, best of five sets matches. Thus, Henry Jones created the basis for present day tennis in 1877.
In 1881 the United States Lawn Tennis Association was founded and held its first championship at Newport, Rhode Island.
By 1900 tennis had become international, and in 1912 the International Lawn Tennis Federation was created in Paris. The following decades were dominated by British, American, Australian and French players. In 1938 Don Budge became the first player to win the Grand Slam (He won the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US championships in the same year).
The ¡§Open Era¡¨ started in 1968 with the abolition of the amateur ¡V professional distinction. This step was a crucial factor in the successful development and expansion of women¡¦s and men¡¦s tennis.
Choosing your equipment
Tennis equipment is not as expensive as that of some other sports. Rackets are an initial expense, but well made rackets will last for years. Although clothes and shoes can also be expensive, tennis balls are the costliest items, as you have to replace them constantly.
The word ¡§stroke¡¨ in tennis is used to describe the action of the racket hitting the ball.
There are three basic actions in tennis:
„« The swinging action is a long following movement made against the ball. (groundstrokes)
„« The throwing action consists of bending the elbow before fully extending the arm. (service, smash)
„« Punching, this action is a short, sharp movement, which is used against the ball when you play it in the air. (volley)
There are three main types of stroke:
„« The groundstroke: Groundstrokes are swinging strokes which are used to hit the ball after it has bounced. They are mainly used in the backcourt. There are many types of groundstrokes. The two main ones are the forehand drive, hit with the front of the hand facing the oncoming ball, and the backhand drive, hit with the back of the hand facing the oncoming ball.
„« The service: Every point in tennis is started by one of the two players who serves the ball from behind the baseline. This service is a free hit at the ball with a throwing action.
„« The volley: This is a stroke which is played against the ball before it bounces. It is usually played in the forecourt often above net height by a punching action.
The word ¡§shot¡¨ in tennis is used to describe the shape of the ball¡¦s flight through the air and in the court.
The shots are mainly named for their tactical uses and match-play effect. There are:
„« Down-the-line shot: This is a shot which is hit near the sideline and played lengthwise, i. e. from right court to left court or from left court to right court.
„« Crosscourt shot: This is a shot which is hit diagonally from right court to right court or from left court to left court.
„« Passing shot: This is a shot which is hit past your opponent when he is advancing to, or standing at the net.
„« Approach shot: This is a shot which is played immediately before a net attack.
„« Dropshot: This is a shot which is played to drop just over the net with very little bounce.
How to play the game
Tennis can be played as an individual contest between two players (singles), or a team game between two pairs of players (doubles). Each match is composed of a series of points which form a game, a number of games which form a set and finally a number of sets which form a match.
Starting a singles match
You toss a coin or spin the racket to decide who shall serve in the first game. Whoever wins the spin or toss decides wether to serve or receive, selects an end or asks his opponent to make the choice.
The server must always begin from the right court and must stand behind the baseline within the imaginary extension of his centermark and sideline. The server must put the ball in the air by hand and then strike it with the racket before it hits the ground. The ball must cross the net before it bounces within the service court diagonally opposite him. When the point has been decided, the server serves from the left court into his opponent¡¦s left service court. The receiver can stand, where he likes at the other end of the court in order to make a return stroke but he must not volley the service.
Scoring a game
During a game the server¡¦s score is always called first to avoid confusion. Four points in a row to either player win the game. When the score is deuce, either player must win two consecutive points to win the game. The first point which is won after deuce is an advantage point, whenever the player with the advantage loses the next point the score reverts back to deuce.
A set is decided when one of the players wins six games. If the score reaches 5 ¡V5 then one player must win two in a row in order to win the set 7 ¡V 5.
The tiebreaker scoring system is used when the score reaches six games each. The first player to win seven points wins the tiebreaker and that set if he leads by a margin of two points (7 ¡V 0 up to 7 ¡V 5). If the score reaches 6 ¡V6 the tiebreaker continuous until one of the players wins by two points.
The role of the umpire, referee and linesmen
The main role of the referee is to run the tournament. He appoints the umpires, linesmen and other court officials.
The main role of the umpire is to see that play and the rules of Lawn Tennis are observed. He must also keep an accurate record of the score at all times, this includes calling faults and points and announcing the score after each game and set. He also must check the height of the net.
The Linesmen are situated around the court in seats and look along the lines they have been appointed to judge. The linesman¡¦s specific duty is to call faults.