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The Game of Tennis

             Over the eight centuries before modern tennis was invented there was only one game called Tennis. As the popularity of the modern game increased, there had to be a name to distinguish old tennis' from modern tennis. Real Tennis is the name in the UK, Court Tennis in the USA, and Royal Tennis in Australia. The game originated in France sometime in the 12th century and was referred to in ecclesiastical manuscripts as "jes de paume," the game of the palm, played with the bare hand. As early as the 12th century, a glove was used to protect the hand. Starting in the 16th century and continuing until the middle of the 18th century, rackets of varying shapes and sizes were used. Around 1750, the present configuration of lopsided head, thick gut, and longer handle were used. The shape of the racket enabled the player to scoop balls out of the corners (walls and floor were considered in-bounds) and also to put cut' or spin' on the ball. Royalty and the very wealthy mainly played the game. .
             Balls of the early days of tennis were made of leather stuffed with wool or hair. They were hard enough to cause injury and even death. Starting in the 18th century, ¾" strips of wool were wound tightly around a nucleus made by rolling a number of strips into a little ball. Then string was tied in many directions around the ball and a white cloth covering sewn around the ball. The oldest Real Tennis court is located at Hampton Court Palace, originally built by King Henry VIII at about 1530. A Real Tennis court has a very different appearance from that of a modern tennis court. The surface of the court is stone, surrounded by four high walls and covered by a sloping roof. The net droops in the center to 3 feet, and stands at 5 feet high at either end. The net was originally a simple cord made more easily seen by the addition of tassels.
             The object of tennis is to keep the tennis ball in play once it is served by one of the two sides.

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