Introduction to tennis | LTA

Introduction to tennis

Heather Watson playing tennis

A beginner's guide to the world's most popular racket sport

How did tennis originate?

Tennis is a descendant of a medieval game that originated in France, called 'Jeu de paume' – game of the palm. Players used their hands to hit a ball back and forth to one another.

The game, as we know it today, was first defined with a set of rules written in the 1870s.

What is tennis?

In its simplest form, tennis involves two players or teams of two, on a court, using rackets to hit a ball to each other over a net. The aim of the game is to hit the ball over the net in a way that means your opponent cannot return it (back over the net and within the court markings).

If you are successful in doing this, you win the point.

A more in-depth explanation of the laws of tennis can be found on our rules page.

Who can play?

Anyone – that’s the great thing about the sport. Whatever your age, whatever your ability, you can play tennis.

How many people can play in a match?

Tennis is played as either a singles match (1 v 1) or as a doubles match (2 v 2). In both instances the rules are the same, the only thing that changes are the boundary lines; this means the court is slightly larger for a doubles' match. You can also play mixed doubles which is where you have a male and female on each team.

What surface is tennis played on?

Grass, hard (concrete or acrylic), indoor and clay.

What does a tennis court look like?

The standard size for a tennis court is 78 foot long and 27 foot wide (for singles) or 36 foot wide (doubles).

What are the benefits of playing tennis?

Tennis is great fun and is accessible to all ages and skill levels. But there are other benefits to picking up a racket and playing...

As well as serving up plenty of smiles, tennis is good for your physical and mental health. It can help lower body fat while improving muscle toning, strength and flexibility. It can even help you to live longer.

In terms of mental health, exercise is hugely important in maintaining a good state of mind. Playing a game of tennis will release those happy endorphins to help you feel great!

It is also a fantastic way to spend some time with family and friends and will provide you with the opportunity to meet new people.

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