Tuesday, 04 January 2011 12:04
The modern sport of tennis finds its origins in 12th century France. Monks began playing a crude handball against their monastery walls or over a rope strung across a courtyard.
As the game became more popular, courtyard playing areas began to be modified into indoor courts, where the ball was still played off the walls. After bare hands were found too uncomfortable, players began using a glove, then either a glove with webbing between the fingers or a solid paddle, followed by webbing attached to a handle–essentially a racquet. Rubber balls were still centuries away, so the ball was a wad of hair, wool, or cork wrapped in string and cloth or leather, then in later years, hand-stitched in felt to look something like a modern baseball.
The nobility learned the game from the monks, and some accounts report as many as 1800 courts in France by the 13th century. The game became such a popular diversion, both the Pope and Louis IV tried unsuccessfully to ban it. It soon spread to England, where both Henry VII and Henry VIII were avid players who promoted the building of more courts. Today the game is as popular around the world. It has been part of the first Olympic Games in 1896 and continued until 1924. It was then discontinued until it returned as a demonstration sport in Guadalajara, Mexico 1968 and 1984 Los Angeles, California, USA Olympic Games. It wasn’t until the 1988 Seoul, South Korea Olympic Games it returned a full medal sport and has been since.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the world governing body of tennis. Tennis Association of Trinidad and Tobago is the ITF affiliate in this country.