Origins of Ball Games Ball games can be traced back to Egyptian times, carvings have been
found in temples since 1500 BC and the games were linked with
religious ceremonies. Christianity actually developed the game of
tennis through French monks in the 11th or 12th centuries. The
earliest version of the game was called 'La Soule' where the ball
would be struck with either a stick or the palm of the hand. The name
tennis is actually derived from the French word 'tenez' meaning 'take
this' and the monks would shout this as they struck the ball. The game
spread throughout Europeand became so popular that the Pope tried to
ban it, but he failed.
The game was developed further in the 12th and 13th centuries and the
first tennis racket was formed using a leather glove attacked to a
stick. The tennis ball was refined and made of leather stuffed with
bran. French royalty adopted the game and it became known as 'Royal'
or 'Real' tennis, this game is very different to tennis today. Played
indoors with no boundaries points were won according to scoring lines
on the walls and the court, the net was five foot high at each end and
three foot in the middle. The ball was allowed to bounce twice and the
second bounce would be marked as the 'chase', this meant that you
could make your opponent play the ball up against the back wall,
allowing no swing this tactic could win you the game.
Tennis spread to British royalty and Henry VII was a keen player. He
had his own court built at Hampton Court; this is one of the few
surviving real tennis courts and is still used by 'real tennis'
players today. The game continued to spread across Europeto Spain,
Germany, Holland, and many other countries. However, in the 18th
century the French revolution and Napoleonic wars virtually eliminated
tennis across most of Europe.
The Victorians began to revive tennis in the 19th century, courts were
built in country houses, and the first tennis clubs appeared. The
development of outdoor courts was largely due to vulcanised rubber;
this gave tennis balls that did not damage the grass. Lawn Tennis was
discovered and courts were seen to be in the estates of the wealthy.
Arthur Balfour coined the term 'Lawn Tennis' but it wasn't long before
clay and concrete surfaces were discovered. Tennis became very popular
and took over from crochet as Britain's summer sport. In 1875 The All
EnglandCroquet Club failed to gain enough visitors and decided to
combine with tennis. In 1877 the club was renamed The All EnglandCroquet
and Lawn Tennis Club and to help raise money for rent at the...