There is some dispute over the foundations of tennis and where the game actually originated from. There is some recorded evidence of many games played in ancient Greece and Egypt using a sort of ball and the hand.
Whether this was the formation of the actual game of tennis we now know is very much debatable.
While evidence is sparse there are indicators that these early forms of handball where the precursors of the game. The word for the palm of the hand in Arabic is rahat, whilst the Egyptian town of Tinnis bears a close association to Tennis.
A stronger link to the game is substantiated around 1000 when French monks began playing a crude game with a rope strung out across a courtyard and hitting a ball with their hands. This theory is that the word tennis came from the monks who would shout tenez the French for “to take” while they served the ball.
It was rumoured that by the 13th century there were as many as 1,800 courts and that the Pope and King Louis 4th tried to ban the game.
The game spread across the English Channel and was endorsed by both Henry the 7th and 8th building many royal courts. The one at Hampton Court built in 1625 still exists today.
As the years passed and the game became more popular the game evolved. Courts and equipment modified to speed up the game. Wooden balls were replaced by leather bouncier balls, and using the bare hand changed to a glove and then a paddle.
Introduction of the Wooden Frame
By 1500, a wooden frame with sheep gut stretched across was now getting very close to the first racket. The leather ball had also been replaced with a lighter cork one. But this form of the game was still a form of real tennis played in a narrow indoor court off roofs and galleries.
The interest and popularity of the game waned in the next couple of centuries but there was a big revival in 1850 when Charles Goodyear invented the process of vulcanisation and the rubber ball was invented.
Due to this innovation, tennis could be played outdoor and on any surface which grass became the most popular. Now the real foundations of modern tennis came to the fore.
In 1874 London, Major Walter Wingfield patented the rules and equipment for a game called Sphairistike, the Greek for “playing at ball”
The game then crossed the pond to America and soon was taken up in China, India, Russia and Canada. At this time tennis was often played on croquet courts as there was a plethora of them in existence.
All England Club
The connection between croquet and tennis continued and was cemented when the All England Club decided to hold the first Wimbledon tennis tournament in 1877. The rules for the tournament were changed and the court was changed to the familiar rectangular court now used. The club quickly changed it’s name to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.
The first Wimbledon Championships it consisted of only men’s singles and it was not for a further seven years that the ladies were allowed to compete. Playing attire included wearing hats and ties and women had to wear heels.
Tennis as we know today has evolved into a major world sport that has international sponsors and advertisers and the players are household names. So whatever is the truth of the actual origins of the sport we cannot deny its success.
If you are interested in learning more about the skills of tennis and fancy the idea of some one to one coaching then we can help.
For more information and to book a court, contact our friendly team today!