Part of the appeal of tennis stems from the simplicity of equipment required for play. Beginners need only a racquet and balls.
The components of a tennis racquet include a handle, known as the grip, connected to a neck which joins a roughly elliptical frame that holds a matrix of tightly pulled strings. For the first 100 years of the modern game, racquets were of wood and of standard size, and strings were of animal gut. Laminated wood construction yielded more strength in racquets used through most of the 20th century until first metal and then composites of carbon graphite, ceramics, and lighter metals such as titanium were introduced. These stronger materials enabled the production of over-sized racquets that yielded yet more power. Meanwhile, technology led to the use of synthetic strings that match the feel of gut yet with added durability.
Under modern rules of tennis, the racquets must adhere to the following guidelines.
The hitting area, composed of the strings, must be flat and generally uniform.
The frame of the hitting area may not be more than 29 inches in length and 12.5 inches in width.
The entire racquet must be of a fixed shape, size, weight, and weight distribution. There may not be any energy source built into the racquets.
The racquets must not provide any kind of communication, instruction or advice to the player during the match.
The rules regarding racquets have changed over time, as material and engineering advances have been made. For example, the maximum length of the frame had been 32 inches until 1997, when it was shortened to 29 inches.
Many companies manufacture and distribute tennis racquets. Wilson, Head and Babolat are some of the more commonly used brands; however, many more companies exist. The same companies sponsor players to use these racquets in the hopes that the company name will become more well known by the public.
Tennis balls have come a long way from being made of cloth strips stitched together with thread. Tennis balls are made of hollow rubber with a felt coating. Traditionally white, the predominant color was gradually changed to optic yellow in the latter part of the 20th century to allow for improved visibility. Tennis balls must conform to certain criteria for size, weight, deformation, and bounce to be approved for regulation play. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) defines the official diameter as 65.41-68.58 mm (2.575-2.700 inches). Balls must weigh between 56.0 and 59.4 grams (1.975-2.095 ounces). Tennis balls were traditionally manufactured in the United States and Europe. Although the process of producing the balls has remained virtually unchanged for the past 100 years, the majority of manufacturing now takes place in the Far East. The relocation is due to cheaper labour costs and materials in the region.
Advanced players improve their performance through a number of accoutrements. Vibration dampers may be interlaced in the proximal part of the string array for improved feel. Racquet handles may be customized with absorbent or rubber-like materials to improve the player's' grip. Players often use sweat bands on their wrists to keep their hands dry as well. Finally, although the game can be played in a variety of shoes, specialized tennis shoes have wide, flat soles for stability and a built-up front structure to avoid excess wear.
Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface, usually grass, clay, or a hardcourt of concrete, asphalt, or acrylic; occasionally carpet is used for indoor play. The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long, and 27 feet (8.23 m) wide for singles matches and 36 ft (10.97 m) for doubles matches. Additional clear space around the court is required in order for players to reach overrun balls. A net is stretched across the full width of the court, parallel with the baselines, dividing it into two equal ends. It is held up by either a metal cable or cord that can be no more than 0.8 cm (1/3 inch). The net is 3 feet 6 inches (1.067 m) high at the posts and 3 feet (0.914 m) high in the center. The net posts are 3 feet (0.914 m) outside the doubles court on each side or, for a singles net, 3 feet (0.914 m) outside the singles court on each side.
The modern tennis court owes its design to Major Walter Clopton Wingfield who, in 1873, patented a court much the same as the current one for his stické tennis (sphairistike). This template was modified in 1875 to the court design that exists today, with markings similar to Wingfield's version, but with the hourglass shape of his court changed to a rectangle.
The lines that delineate the width of the court are called the baseline (farthest back) and the service line (middle of the court). The short mark in the center of each baseline is referred to as either the hash mark or the center mark. The outermost lines that make up the length are called the doubles sidelines. These are the boundaries used when doubles is being played. The lines to the inside of the doubles sidelines are the singles sidelines and are used as boundaries in singles play. The area between a doubles sideline and the nearest singles sideline is called the doubles alley, which is considered playable in doubles play. The line that runs across the center of a player's side of the court is called the service line because the serve must be delivered into the area between the service line and the net on the receiving side. Despite its name, this is not where a player legally stands when making a serve.
The line dividing the service line in two is called the center line or center service line. The boxes this center line creates are called the service boxes; depending on a player's position, he or she will have to hit the ball into one of these when serving. A ball is out only if none of it has hit the line or the area inside the lines upon its first bounce. All the lines are required to be between 1 and 2 inches (51 mm) in width. The baseline can be up to 4 inches (100 mm) wide
There are five types of court surface used in professional play. Each surface is different in the speed and height of the bounce of the ball. The same surface plays faster indoors than outdoors.
Examples are red clay, used at the French Open, and green clay (an example of which is Har-Tru and used mainly in the U.S.). Almost all red clay courts are made not of natural clay but of crushed brick that is packed to make the court. The crushed brick is then covered with a topping of other crushed particles. This type of surface does not absorb water easily and is the most common in Europe and Latin America. Clay courts normally have a slower paced ball and a fairly true bounce with more spin.
Examples of hardcourts are acrylic (e.g. Plexicushion used at the Australian Open, DecoTurf used at the US Open, GreenSet used at the ATP World Tour Finals), asphalt, and concrete. Hardcourts typically have a faster-paced ball with a very true bounce and it is the predominant surface type used on the professional tour.
Grass courts usually have a faster-paced ball, and a more erratic bounce. Grass is used at Wimbledon and until 1974 three of the four Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open) were played on grass. In 2001 Wimbledon changed the type of grass to make the courts more durable and thus better able to withstand the wear of the modern game. The new grass causes the ball to bounce higher and slows it down compared to the previous grass type.
Any form of removable court covering, including carpeting and artificial turf. The bounce can be higher or lower than a hard court. Carpet surface has not been used on the ATP and WTA tour since 2009.
Popular from the 1880s through the first half of the 20th century, wooden surface provides a very low bounce and plays very fast. There are no longer any professional tournaments held on a wooden surface although some tournaments (e.g. Rotterdam Open and Open Sud de France), are played on a wood-based court with an acrylic layer on top.
Considerations for male tennis player are the ability to move freely and keep cool. Avoid 100 percent cotton T-shirts because they retain sweat and can stick to the body. Tennis shirts now are predominantly made from synthetic fabrics, which offer the comfort of the cotton without retaining sweat. Some of these fabrics brand names, include Dri-Fit and Climalite, but all of these enhance your movement and have a lighter fee than cotton. Shorts have a practical element to them and should have pockets or somewhere to store spare balls when serving. Cold weather clothing may restrict your movement but may be needed due to weather conditions. Make sure you select clothing that allows for full movement without restriction.
Many women are now choosing to wear shorts while others still prefer tennis skirts. The other option is a tennis dress. The most important factors are to avoid cotton, comfortable fit, practicality and freedom of movement. If you choose a tennis dress or skirt consider using a ball clip attached to the waistband. A sports bra is another essential item for to provide support and comfort.
Tennis Racquet From $25 to $250.00 +
Tennis Balls From $1+
Tennis Shoes From $30 to $200.00+