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A Brief History of Tennis.
The modern sport of Tennis is tied to two separate inventions;

Between 1859 and 1865, in Birmingham, England, Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, combined elements of the game of rackets and the Spanish ball game Pelota and played it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872, both men moved to Leamington Spa and in 1874, with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital, founded the world's first tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club.

In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designed and patented a similar game—which he called Sphairistikè (Greek: σφρστικ, from ancient Greek meaning "skill at playing at ball"), and was soon known simply as "sticky"—for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales. He likely based his game on the evolving sport of outdoor tennis including real tennis. Much of modern tennis terminology also derives from this period. He patented the game in 1874 with an eight-page rule book titled "Sphairistike or Lawn Tennis", but he failed to succeed in enforcing his patent.


Wingfield borrowed both the name and much of the French vocabulary of real tennis:

• Tennis comes from the French tenez, the imperative form of the verb tenir, to hold: This was a cry used by the player serving in royal tennis, meaning "I am about to serve!" (rather like the cry "Fore!" in golf).

• Racquet comes from raquette, which derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand.

• Deuce comes from à deux le jeu, meaning "to both is the game" (that is, the two players have equal scores).

• The possible origin of the use of Love for zero is that it derives from "l'oeuf", the French word for "egg", representing the shape of a zero.

• The convention of numbering scores "15", "30" and "40" comes from quinze, trente and quarante, or from the quarters of a clock (15, 30, 45) with 45 simplified to 40.

Mallow Tennis Club

Co Cork

Tel: +353 (0)22 21145
Fax: +353 (0)22 42501

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