Tuesday, October 20, 2009


This History of tennis yellow page gives fascinating insight about how tennis developed into the game that we love to play. The sport of tennis has been played for hundreds of years, but the game as it is known today is about one hundred and thirty years old.
By the 1850's many versions of the game come into view. The immediate ancestor of the game was called "Sphairistike" invented by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield and first played by him on a grass court in Wales. It was called "Sticky" at first and in books about history of tennis and in popular usage came to be known as "lawn tennis". Eventually the game was played by many people all over England. It will go down in tennis history as simply tennis.
In 1877 the All England Croquet Club formally changed its name to the All England Croquet Lawn Tennis Club and held the first tennis championships in July 1877. The referee was Henry Jones who devised the rules for the tournament with the help of a two-man committee. No scoring rules were in place so what they devised was indeed revolutionary at that time.
Players were required to change ends after each set, matches were the best of five sets, and advantage sets were played only in the final. If a game reached 5-5 in earlier rounds, the outcome of the next game decided the set - like present-day tiebreakers. The shape of the court also changed from hourglass to the modern rectangular with similar measurements. With adjustments that were inevitable during the evolution of the game, tennis owes a lot to Henry Jones. The history of tennis buffs should remember his name.
Players were not seeded - opponents were chosen by draw - and twenty-two men entered that first championship. The first lawn tennis champion was Spencer Gore, who employed the tactic of an intimidating net attack against his opponents. At that time the net was 5 ft high at the posts and only 3ft 3in at the center. It was lowered to its present height of 3ft 6in at the posts in 1882. It would be later before serve and volley would be utilized by the players.

The British Ernest and William Renshaw dominated the 1880s at Wimbledon. With excellent strokes, they set higher standards of tournament play with subsequent public interest in the game. William Renshaw used the smash as a weapon as well as the "rising ball" style of play.
Two other brothers - Henry and Wilfred Baddeley won the doubles title four times in the 1890s. After them, the Doherty brothers, Richard and Laurie, dominated the decade between 1897 and 1906. They won the singles championship a combined total of nine times and winning the doubles eight times. In the history of tennis annals, there is an outstanding performance by brothers.

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