A Complete Guide To Lawn Tennis
High Tea and sandwiches while watching two players play or smashing it out on the court as a Lawn Tennis pro! This ancient sport has a quaint aura to it that can never go out of style, and besides having a rich history and legacy attached to its origin and development, Lawn Tennis is an intricate and power packed game that requires immense skill and years of training.
In a nutshell
Lawn Tennis is a globally admired racket based sport, played in formats of singles, doubles, and mixed doubles respectively.
The versatility inherent in this game implies that it can be played by two individuals as opponents, or by two opposing teams, in pairs, having two players each.
In singles, two players standing on opposite ends of a playing arena, known as a tennis court, and in doubles two teams, having two players each, are engaged in a riveting battle of nerves, stamina, and strength to outwit the opponent from making an effective return. The governing body of this sport is the fabled International Tennis federation, constituting members of 210 national tennis associations of individual countries.
Over time, this game suffused by richness of traditions and heritage, has been interposed by the advent of World renowned and legendary personalities namely – Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Stephen Edberg, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, & Martina Navratilova, apart from the more contemporary ones being – Roger Federer, Novan Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal.
Want to Know More About Lawn Tennis?
In lawn tennis, players use rackets, which are oval in shape at the top, having chequered strings as cords to strike a rubber ball along with a handle to provide a firm grip. The sole purpose of the sport is to tactfully place the ball, by hitting it in a way, so as to make the opponent inept at returning it back, thereby gaining a point in the process.
Over the years, regulations and rules have been evolved and changed for improvement and synergy of the sport in general. Millions of people are engaged in this game as recreational players, while numerous others play it professionally too. Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) is a body that ranks players for admittance and seeding into various international tournaments, based upon their past performances, calculated for the 52 weeks prior to it, using a method-based criterion of qualification.
A Brief Overview And History
The lineage of modern lawn tennis can be traced back to the years between 1859 – 1865, with inspirational contributions stemming from games such as – croquet and bowls. Harry Gem along with his pal Augurio Perera transmogrified and adapted the sport in a unique manner on the latter’s croquet court, in Birmingham, England. Consequently, Perera and Gem along with two other acquaintances constituted the world’s first tennis club at Leamington Spa, in the year 1872, marking the heralding of an era in this sport.
According to historians following the game, lawn tennis’s inception took place in twelfth century Northern France with a ball being struck by the palm of one’s hand. Eventually, in time, the sport metamorphosed into its modern day version, but the credit for constructing the first enclosed, indoor tennis court goes to a certain zealous individual named Louis X.
Rackets were first employed in the 16th century, and hence, the name tennis was anointed. Even though, the popularity of the game had permeated England and France back then, the ball could also be struck as rebound, off the side-walls of the court, a sport known as ‘Real Tennis’, and famously called as sport of Kings. By the end of the 18th century, many new racket sports mushroomed in Europe.
Important rules of Lawn Tennis
Conventionally, lawn tennis is played by two opposing players, in a singles match, or two teams in pairs, called a doubles match. The existing broad categories are –
- Singles: A competition entailing two players as opponents, either two men or two women up against one another. The game is played within bounds of the singles’ sidelines of the court. On rare occasions though, exhibition matches involving a man and women’s rivals are played for a benevolent and social cause, such as charity.
- Doubles: Is played on a wider court utilizing doubles’ side-lines, technical jargon for which is the tramlines, by either, two pairs of all-men or all-female contestants. Post each point, players switch positions, from being closer to the net to near the baseline, even as they prepare to return an opponents’ serve.
- Mixed Doubles: Even though men’s and women’s tours are segregated and organised by their respective bodies – ATP for men and WTP for women, during the four Grand Slam tournaments, a mixed doubles competition is arranged, wherein, men and women play together as team pairs. The rules however remain the same as per the doubles format. Apart from the four ‘majors’, a tournament especially for mixed competition is annually held, called the Hopman Cup, where players represent their nations.
The rules are classified into the following
1) Rules of Play: As a sport, lawn tennis has relatively simplified rules, yet the finesse, dexterity, and adroitness required to successfully pursue it are aspects which warrant dedication, focused hard work, and consistency of efforts.
A.) Right to Serve: A toss of coin or racquet spin resolves the decision regarding the player’s choice of either serving first or receiving the ball, while the other opts for the side, to commence play from.
B.) Arrangement of position: Standing on opposite ends of the court, one player serves while the other receives it, thereby named aptly as server and receiver.
C.) Service: A Serve is the shot that begins ‘play’ in tennis. Each service served is a point earned by the winner. Below are some regulations reduced to essentials for better comprehension:–
A player begins by tossing the ball high in the air and striking it, using the racquet at its highest elevation.
- When serving, both the feet of the server ought to be behind the baseline without contact.
- For the initial point of any game, a server positions to the right side of the baseline’s centre point, whereby serving diagonally across the net, to the receiver’s service court, which is to the left side, from the perspective of the server’s own vision.
- Until the receiver is prepared, the serving player cannot begin to serve. And similarly the receiver shall pace the readiness, in accordance with the server.
- After every service point, the serving player (and the opponent too) will switch court sides by beginning to serve diagonally from right to left, and in the next point of the same game – from left to right.
- For a legal serve, the ball has to cross without touching the netand land inside the cross service box of the opponent (receiver), or on its lines.
- When a legal serve lands on the opponent’s service box, after having touched the net, it is called a ‘Let’ or ‘Net’. The serving player gets another opportunity for service.
- If the serving player makes let twice, it is counted as a fault, with a point immediately accruing to the opponent.
- If a player’s foot touches either the baseline or the center line, while serving, it is adjudicated as a foot fault.
- When a player misses the ball while tossing or serving, it becomes a fault service.
- If a ball after serving fails to cross the net, it is considered as a service fault.
- The receiving player is required to allow the ball to bounce once before returning it to the originating player, otherwise a point gets bestowed upon the server.
The Scoring system: In tennis, a match comprises of sets, games, and points. Each match incorporates two or three sets, so it’s usually a best of three or best of five for the players. Each Set contains six games, played with alternative service and return, ergo, to win a set; a player needs to triumph in at least six games, with a minimum margin of two games.
Additionally, the initiating score in all games is ‘love’ which in tennis jargon implies a zero. Every point won hereon adds fifteen in numeric to love, therefore, from zero to 15, then 30, and 40, and eventually game point wins the game. Hence, four points in all. Once the competing players or pairing teams are on the same score in terms of points, it is regarded as a 15-all, or 30-all, and so on. If in the same game, both opponents equally win three points; it is referred to as ‘Deuce’, instead of 40-all. The player that wins the next point is then on ‘Advantage’, necessitating two consecutive points, as margin, to claim the game.
RULES FOR BOUNDARY & NET CORD: In congruence to all sports, lawn tennis too has an arena of play, known as a court. The court is divided in half by the net, giving each player or team, their own side.
Some simplified regulations and stipulations are mentioned below: –
- Any shot that lands outside the boundary lines, as designated for singles and doubles, causes loss of point to the player who errs.
- When a ball hits the net, but crosses over to the opponent’s court, staying within boundaries is considered in play.
- With the exception of a player’s first service, any ball hitting the net cord, and not crossing to the other side is ruled as a fault.
- Whenever a player touches the net while attempting to return the ball, or crosses the net after striking the ball back, he or she loses the point.
- A ‘Let’ or ‘Net’ first serve results in the server being allowed a second first serve attempt. Whereby, implying two possible attempts for his first serve.
- TIE-BREAK FACTOR: Customarily, a lawn tennis match is either played as a best of two or three sets. To win a set, a player needs to win six games, with a minimum margin of two games upon his opponent. In the event that both players are tied on a 6-6 score, in a set, a tie-breaker gets played out. In a tie-breaker, the player or team, which wins the first of seven points, again by a two-point margin resultantly wins the set. However, in such a tie-break play-out, each player gets to serve twice, successively. And, if by the first seven points, no clear winner is adjudicated, the players switch sides of the court.
Like in any other sport, measurements, dimensions, and specifications play a pivotal role in lawn tennis There are three major divisional groupings that are of significance to players and the referee, viz.:-
Court specifications: Being played on a rectangular surface, a tennis court is 78 feet (23.77 meters) in length, and 27 feet (8.23 meters) in width for singles matches. For a doubles event, the margin of width changes to 36 feet (10.97 meters), with an extension of 9 feet to the sidelines or ‘Tramlines’, irrespective of the type of surface being used for the tournament.
Racquet specifications: The racquet frame consists of a gripping handle, leading to a neck, which conjoins to the head that is elliptical in shape. Incidentally, the weight ranges between 245 grams to 340 grams, depending upon individual preferences and style of play. A chequered matrix of tensely fastened strings covers the inner part of the racquet’s head. The strings are mainly arranged into two classes based upon the material from which they are made of:
- Gut Strings: are made from the intestines of a cow through an elaborate procedure, and are quite popular amongst professional players, for traits akin to their tension bearing ability, stability, and elasticity.
- Synthetic Strings: are made from nylon, multifilament, textured, Kevlar, and polyester strings, to ensure durability and endurance.
Balls Contemporary lawn tennis balls are manufactured using the pressurized rubber technology. In fact, having a hollow core shell that is made from vulcanized rubber, and covered by a coat of felt made from either nylon or wool, the ball needs to weigh precisely, between 2 and 21/6 ounces. Notably, the diameter of the ball should be anywhere between 21/2 & 25/8 inches.
Who are the governing bodies for Lawn Tennis?
Not only is the International Tennis Federation the guardian body for governing the rules of lawn tennis, but it also ensures timely modification for enhanced coherence of play, by which engrossing the audiences worldwide. Formed in 1913 in France, with 12 national associations as inceptive members, the name International Lawn Tennis Federation kept evolving its stipulations and rules for several decades till date. Inevitably, owing to the variety in playing surfaces, the year 1977 saw the term ‘lawn’ getting eliminated.
Tournaments and championships of lawn tennis, and the performance of players in them, becomes the determining factor which dictates their individual rankings and seeding, in a particular event.
Following are the foremost tournaments being played:-
On An International Level
The most prestigious events in a year are the Grand Slams, certainly with reference to ATP points, fame, prize money winnings, media attention, and adulation. The feats, accomplishments, and winnings of 19 tournaments in all, in a single calendar year, are taken into consideration before arriving at the rankings. These include:-
- The four Grand Slam Tournaments: Also referred to as ‘Majors’, the four Grand Slams are –
- Australian Open: Played upon hard court
- French Open: Played on clay surface
- Wimbledon: Played on grass court
- US Open: Played on hard court surface
- The mandatory Nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Annually held, Nine ATP World Tour Masters tournaments come under the
aegis of the Association of Tennis Professionals, taking place in Europe, North America, and Asia. Through consistency of noteworthy results attained in these ATP Masters 1000 events accrue as world ranking points for players, although not in the same percentage, as in the four Grand Slams, or even the end of year ATP World Tour Finals. These are as follows –
1) Indian Wells Masters
2) Miami Open
3) Madrid Open
4) Monte-Carlo Masters
5) Canadian Open
6) Italian Open
7) Cincinnati Masters
8) Shanghai Masters
9) Paris Masters
- Prior ATP Tour Finals
- The top six performances among the following tournaments –
1) ATP World Tour 500
2) ATP World Tour 250
3) ATP World Challenger Tour
5) Futures Series
6) Davis Cup
Established in pre-independent India in March 1920, in Lahore, All Indian Tennis Association is the sport’s governing body. With the basic constitutional framework nearly a replication of its British counterpart, the first Annual General Meeting was held at New Delhi, on November, 1920. The notable domestic tournaments of repute are:
- Indian Open
- Chennai Open
- Indore Open ATP Challenger
- Royal Indian Open
Famous Lawn Tennis Players
Vijay Amritraj: Turning professional in 1970, Vijay Amritraj is the pioneering name of Indian lawn tennis. In 1973, he achieved the unthinkable, by reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and US Open. A career interposed by remarkable sparks of genius, with the most spectacular being the victory over Björn Borg at Forest Hills Open in 1974. His highest single’s ranking was of 16, and the acme in doubles being at 13.
Ramesh Krishnan: Title winner of the boys’ singles at Wimbledon and French Open, Ramesh Krishnan entered quarterfinals of three Grand Slams during the 1980s. His feats include the famous victory over the then World No.1 Mats Wilander, at the Australian Open in 1989. Accomplishing a career best ATP ranking of 23, he has 8 singles and 1 doubles title to his credit.
Mahesh Bhupathi: The other half of the erstwhile ‘Indian Express’ doubles team, that entered the finals of all four Grand slams in 1999, and winning three of those, a paragon feat that had never been achieved since 1952, Mahesh Bhupathi is ironically, the first Indian player to have won a Grand Slam in 1997, along with Rika Hiraki, in mixed doubles. With 52 career titles in doubles, his ATP ranking reached an apex of No.1 in 1999.
Leander Paes: Breaking into the seniors’ international circuit, as a 16-year old adolescent, this ‘wonder boy’ had already pocketed the juniors’ title of Wimbledon and US Open in 1991, ensuing which he turned professional. His singles career reached its vertex, with an ATP ranking best of 73. By adding 55 titles to his venerable cap, and partnering along with Mahesh Bhupathi to forge a doubles team that became world-beaters, he ineffaceably etched the name of Indian tennis upon history. The cap became even shinier, by the acclaimed inclusion of an Olympic bronze medal, in singles event, at 1996, Atlanta Games.
Sania Mirza: Accredited with being the highest ranked women’s player ever originating from India, Sania has to her credit a pinnacle ATP rank of 27, in 2007. Currently at World no. 1 in doubles, Sania has 35 WTA titles in the same category. By sheer persistent resilience, she has managed to put forward a quintessential example, for emancipation of women in India, through her passion for sports.
Vigour and endurance are required to play this powerful sport, and if your child has shown a keen interest in Lawn Tennis, or is already a budding pro, then YoGems can help him or her in achieving this dream!