Written by Darren Love
Tennis is played in almost every country in the world and has high-profile tournaments including the U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon Championships, and the Davis Cup. What really makes tennis popular though is that it can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to have fun and is good exercise in the process. Tennis can be played indoors or out and is usually played on asphalt or concrete, but is also played on grass, clay, wood or artificial turf. Once a moderate skill level is achieved, tennis provides an excellent workout that uses almost every muscle group, especially those in your legs and arms. Flexibility is also increased due to the wide range in motion used in playing tennis.
The exact origin of tennis is a little murky but what is known is that in the 12th century in France, people played a game that resembled tennis. Originally bare hands were used to hit the ball and tennis was played in courtyards next to a castle or in a monastery. As the game evolved people began using gloves and eventually bats. In the 17th century the nobility in England and France played the game of tennis that is very similar to today's modern game.
A tennis match can involve two individual players (singles) or two pairs of players (doubles). The server must hit the ball over the net and land it in the receiver's service box, which is located diagonally opposite from the server. A "fault" is called if the serve lands outside of the service box. The server can then have a second serve and if that is also out then a "double fault" is called and a point is scored by the player receiving the ball. Unlike other racquet sports like squash or racquetball, in tennis, a point can be made by the server or by the player receiving the serve. Each player then hits the ball back and forth over the net until the ball is hit into the net, goes out of bounds or a player misses the ball. Tennis's scoring is unusual in that it starts at "love" (zero-zero) then progresses though four levels scored 15 points, 30 points, 40 points, and "game". If a tie score of 40-40 is reached, it is called "deuce" and player must lead by two points to win a game. A tennis match groups a series of games into a "set", and a player wins a match when they win most of the games in a set.
The most important pieces of equipment you need to play tennis are a tennis racquet, tennis balls and a good pair of shoes. Tennis racquets can vary in quality and prices usually range anywhere from $20 - $300. The leather grip on a racquet should be replaced when it shows signs of wear, to provide better cushioning and sweat absorption. You should also consider how tightly your racquet is strung. The tighter the racquet is strung the harder you'll be able to hit the ball, but with some loss of control. Tennis balls are livelier when newer and are best used when they're right out of a pressure-packed can. When looking for shoes choose a pair that provides good ankle support and has a comfortable but snug fit.
There are several clubs and facilities for tennis in the Niagara Falls region. Contact Ontario Tennis Association 416-426-7135 Toll Free No. 1-800-387-5066 or your local parks & recreation department.