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  1. #1

    A short history of tennis...

    This may not be the most favorite topic to some of you but for those of you interested : I did some research and wrote it down in English (sorry for the possible mistakes :-[). I posted this article on another board yesterday but since some people believe that the grass isn't always greener on the other side (and it isn't, believe you me) here's what I've found. It may be nice feedback for one of your children or for yourself to use for a presentation.

    Enjoy...

    Liz



    Antiquity and “jeu de paume” in France
    According to some archaeological finds and several written sources “the game of ball” is as old as human civilization itself. Although traces to ancient times have been erased for the greater part, it is believed that the mediaeval ballgames originated in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. In the 11th century, in France, a game was played that is now considered as the immediate predecessor of modern tennis: the “Jeu de Paume” (paume = French for palm of the hand). The clergy, God bless ‘em [smiley=engel017.gif], were the first to play this “hand-ball” using a leather ball stuffed with animal hair. The nobility soon followed their example.
    Anecdote : Louis X is believed to have died from a cold caught while playing a game of “Jeu de Paume” in the Bois de Vincennes.


    The spread across Europe

    At the beginning of the 15th century two variations of the game were spread across Europe. The “common people” ‘s variant became so popular that at a certain moment people were forbidden to play it in certain places (especially in the narrow alleys and against the church- and graveyard walls/the number of casualties had grown too big :-/). The “rich” variant was played in separate buildings. These historic “tennis courts” were held by castellans. The nobility made sure they had their “own” courts. In Holland, for example, the oldest “tennis court” called “the Caetsbaan of the Prince of Orange” is situated behind the Knight’s Hall at the Inner Court. It attracted loads of fans from 1500 ‘till approximately 1650.

    First “racquet” around 1500

    Originally the “Jeu de Paume” was played with bare hands but in the course of time several tools were used. First a glove and then, later on, a kind of bat. Erasmus wrote that it was nobler to play with bare hands… . But the rise of “the racquet” was unstoppable. People found they could simply hit harder with it. The Dutch excelled at producing them because they had mastered the technique of wood-bending. At the end of the 15th century sheepgut :P was used to make strings. They were called “ketsdarmen” (“kets” = kaats = hand-ball/ darmen = dutch for “gut”). This word was later corrupted to “kattendarm” (“kat” = cat [ch61664] “catgut”). The German professor Gillmeister assumes that the word “racket” is also derived from dutch. It is a “re-kets”, a device to “re”, “kets (handball)” the ball.

    The most popular sport

    Around 1600 tennis (England), kaatsen (Holland), jeu de paume (France) or giocco della racquetta (Italy) was the most popular sport in Europe. The Republic of the United Low Countries counted over more than 110 “tennis courts”. By the end of the 17th century however, the popularity of the sport decreased. The well-to-do fathers forbade their sons to play “tennis”, because of the big fights over money [smiley=boxing.gif]. Therefore a lot of tenniscourts were reshaped into theatres, because of their great acoustics. The French Revolution that, mark you, started on a tennis court, almost meant the end of the sport in Europe.

    “Tenez” : here it comes

    The first time the word “tennis” was used dates back to 1399. The most plausible theory is that it is a derivation of the French word “Tenez”, which means as much as “keep it”. You had to warn your opponent that you were going to serve. Balls then were much heavier than they are nowadays… . Lots op people died after having gotten one on the head [smiley=dizzy2.gif].

    Lawn tennis

    When the vulcanizing of rubber was invented, people started producing bouncing rubber balls [smiley=woo_hoo.gif] . In 1873, the English Major Wingfield wanted to get the game suited to grass. He invented some weird gamerules and patented the game under the name “sphairistikè” ancient Greek ballgame). This variant soon became more popular than its earlier equivalent. In 1877 Wimbledon was organized for the first time.

    Strange Scoring

    Although it has never been officially proven, the score-count is believed to have originated out of the fact that people used to play the game for money only. In the late middle ages the unity of number was : 60. Chronology and the protractor are still silent witnesses of this. The monetary unit was 60 cents. One can logically assume that people played for a “quarter” per point. This lead to : 15-30-45 and at last : game (60). 45 has changed to 40 over the years but there’s still evidence of “45” in old manuscripts.

    That's all folks!!!!! [smiley=wavey.gif]

  2. #2

    Re: A short history of tennis...

    Nicely done, thx!

    Do you mind if I post that on my forum?
    Good Luck on the Court!!!
    Scott Baker
    Tennis4you.com

  3. #3

    Re: A short history of tennis...

    yah, thanks Jelisabeta ... very interesting!

    I just have one piece of scoring information that was not included. This may be another for the "never officially proven" category, but I'm a French teacher so I know stupid stuff like this. :

    The story of the term "love" ... Instead of saying zero for 0, the French commonly used the word l'oeuf (egg). So, since the French started playing tennis first, the Brits adopted the term. However, being that l'oeuf in french sounds a lot like "love" in English ... the Brits were stupid bastards who didn't know any French, so they started saying "love" for zero.

    Voila!
    It ain't what you eat but how you chew it.

  4. #4

    Re: A short history of tennis...

    Quote Originally Posted by tennis4you
    Nicely done, thx!

    Do you mind if I post that on my forum?
    No, no problem whatsoever. Spread the word!!!

  5. #5

    Re: A short history of tennis...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastien447
    yah, thanks Jelisabeta ... very interesting!

    I just have one piece of scoring information that was not included. This may be another for the "never officially proven" category, but I'm a French teacher so I know stupid stuff like this. :

    The story of the term "love" ... Instead of saying zero for 0, the French commonly used the word l'oeuf (egg). So, since the French started playing tennis first, the Brits adopted the term. However, being that l'oeuf in french sounds a lot like "love" in English ... the Brits were stupid bastards who didn't know any French, so they started saying "love" for zero.

    Voila!
    Thanks for the input. I knew that one, but still many people don't!! It's often asked in quizes too btw.

    And you'd think they'd learned their lesson by now, but ooooooooooooohhhhhhh no, they still don't show any respect for the language of Molière!!!

  6. #6
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    Re: A short history of tennis...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastien447
    ...the Brits were stupid bastards who didn't know any French...
    :-?

    Well that's not going to alienate any of our UK members.

    Global, Sebers. Think global.
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  7. #7

    Re: A short history of tennis...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkus
    [quote author=Sebastien447 link=1140025099/0#2 date=1140035687]...the Brits were stupid bastards who didn't know any French...
    :-?

    Well that's not going to alienate any of our UK members.

    Global, Sebers. Think global.[/quote]

    HEY! I quoted that historical fact!














    OK OK, apologies to all of our British friends, especially Richard Swales who I've noticed peeking in on TAT so quietly. Hey Richard




    and the term "bastard" was used affectionately :P
    It ain't what you eat but how you chew it.

  8. #8

    Re: A short history of tennis...

    and the term "bastard" was used affectionately

    LMAO [smiley=shocked.gif]

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