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The Rise of Lawn Tennis in Great Britain 1858 - 1877:

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The Rise of Lawn Tennis in Great Britain 1858 - 1877: Lawn Tennis from Garden Party to Competitive Era. The rise of racquet sports dates back many centuries to the Middle Ages. The simple concept of hitting balls over nets or walls has extensively evolved to the popular global racquet sport modernly known as tennis. There have been major events in history, which have promoted and changed the course of tennis. These include the birth of Sphairistike, the influence of croquet, equipment advancements, and the ability of tennis to be played by both sexes. Sphairistike In 1858, Major T.H. Gem and J.B. Perara constructed the idea of marking out a lawn in England and calling it a tennis court. In 1872 Major Gem and J.B. Perara established the first lawn tennis club at the Manor House Hotel in Leamington Spa. The development of tennis furthered when in 1873, Major Walter Wingfield, an upper class army corporal, whose family dated back to William the Conqueror in the 15th Century, devised a new version of tennis using modified rules that he named Sphairistike (Rice, 1998: 167). The meaning of Sphairistike was derived due to the word spaira, which means 'ball' in Greek. Sphairistike had the features whereby only the server called score, a game was 15 points and was played on an hourglass shaped court divided by a net seven feet high. ...read more.


The critics believed that the game of tennis was too social to be serious. There were those who thought that it should disregard women whilst others believed it was only a women's game. Wingfield's hour glass court and unsatisfactory rules were soon eliminated, under the guidance of MMC (Marylebone Cricket Club). This new sport was given the name of lawn tennis, and adopted an oblong court and the server retreated from the diamond crease to the baseline (Arlott, 1975: 604). To assist in the development of tennis, Wingfield marketed the creation of a tennis kit. In it there were pegs, poles, nets and a mallet to bang the poles into the ground, all for five guineas. What the kit didn't include was either rackets or balls, because Wingfield assumed people would use real tennis rackets and the comparatively new India rubber balls, developed as a result of the American Charles Goodyear's invention of the vulcanisation process, in 1839. (Rice, 1996: 171) All England Croquet Club In 1870, the All England Croquet Club rented for 50 pounds a year four-greenfeild acres close by the London and SouthWestern Railway line, Wimbledon. Five years later they were in trouble; croquet dropped in popularity, and the All England Croquet Club were close to financial ruin. They took an interest in tennis, and club officials, decided to hold a championship to raise funds for the club. ...read more.


In 1888, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) was formed, thanks largely to Scrivener and Hillyard. (Cuddon 1980: 498) The LTA was concerned with the creation and maintenance of the rules of the game until 1913 when the international Lawn Tennis Federation was founded. The LTA remains the principal body for England, Scotland, and Wales. The equivalent of the LTA in the USA is the Lawn Tennis Association - founded in 1881 (Parsons, 1998: 13). The US Lawn Tennis Association was formed in 1881. International competition soon followed, with the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy (later the Davis Cup) first contested in 1900 and the Wightman Cup, for competition between British and American women's teams, in 1923. Men's singles and doubles play was included on the program for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 (Parsons, 1998: 360). Conclusion By the end of the century, tennis was established as a leading sport, for playing and watching all around the world. It was so popular that it was chosen as one of the original sports included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 (Rice, 1998: 193). Tennis developed all the time further and further away from the idea that Major Wingfield had patented. New strokes were employed, and players had a dominance over the game in their eras. Such as Gore's volley; Hadow's lob; and the Renshaw smash, therefore new tactics were worked out to counter them. (Rice, 1998: 193). ...read more.

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