Written by: Sofija Zecevic
***As part of her high-school home study project ACE player Sofija Zecevic has been researching the history and evolution of the game of tennis. This stretches from the 12th Century up until the present day. Today we’ll look at parts one and two of her project. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more.***
In the beginning…
It is thought that tennis had its beginnings in France around the 12th century, but at that time the ball was smacked with the palm of the hand and was named the “jeu de paume”(“game of the palm”). The ball was likely made of wool, flax, leather, etc. The game was first created by European monks for entertainment. Gradually “jeu de paume” became the entertainment of the wealthiest people who had lots of free time. So tennis became known as the sport of the kings or “real tennis” – “real” stands for “royal”.
The first official tennis court was build in Hampton Court Palace, England, by King Henry VIII in the early 16th Century. At the same time the game was developing in other European countries e.g. Scotland and France. By that time the game was developing from using leather gloves into using wooden rackets.
Origin of the Scoring System
The scoring system is likely based on the numbers on the clock face – 0, 15, 30, 45, 60. Because 60 is a nice round number, and represents the number of minutes in an hour it may have been chosen as the last point of the game. The evolution of the scoring system began several hundred years ago, so no one can be positively sure. Later, “forty-five” was probably abbreviated to “forty”, which made it simpler. History speculates that the word “love”, meaning zero, comes from the French word “l’oeuf”, meaning “egg”, which looks like a zero, and over time gradually became “love”. Who knows for sure!?