This is Kirill’s twice-a-week way of reminding me, however inadvertently, that I started playing tennis too late. Footwork is key to tennis, and taking short strides as you are approaching the ball sets in place the underpinnings of everything that might lead to a good shot. Short steps allow one to be neither too close to nor too far astride the ball. But short steps are not what you learn when you spend your childhood playing football and baseball and basketball.
Historians believe that the game's ancient origin lay in 12th century northern France, where a ball was struck with the palm of the hand. Louis X of France was a keen player of jeu de paume ("game of the palm"), which evolved into real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis outdoors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris "around the end of the 13th century". In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe. In June 1316 at Vincennes, Val-de-Marne and following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning. Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis X is history's first tennis player known by name. Another of the early enthusiasts of the game was King Charles V of France, who had a court set up at the Louvre Palace.
The modern tennis court owes its design to Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. In 1873, Wingfield 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.
Steffi Graf is considered by some to be the greatest female player. Billie Jean King said in 1999, "Steffi is definitely the greatest women's tennis player of all time." Martina Navratilova has included Graf on her list of great players. In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press. Tennis writer Steve Flink, in his book The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century, named her as the best female player of the 20th century, directly followed by Martina Navratilova.
The impetus to use some kind of a tie-breaking procedure gained force after a monumental 1969 struggle at Wimbledon between Pancho Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell. This was a 5-set match that lasted five hours and 12 minutes and took 2 days to complete. In the fifth set the 41-year-old Gonzales won all seven match points that Pasarell had against him, twice coming back from 0–40 deficits. The final score was 22–24, 1–6, 16–14, 6–3, 11–9 for Gonzales.
But it’s not all downside, emotionally, a reckoning with limits and failure, that I’m feeling when I’m playing with Kirill. I have improved, and am proud of that. Being able to spend a couple of hours each week playing with a gifted athlete — and a natural teacher — is gratifying in and of itself. There is also, for instance, the patience I feel at times — patience, finally, as I near 60 — when Kirill and I are rallying for 8 or 9 or 12 or 15 shots. He has a way of sensing when I have found a rhythm (he has told me as much) and he will start hitting with more pace, and I will feed off it, and then he will alter his shots — topspin, flat, slice — to make me take the ball in different strike zones, high to low. And as I at once concentrate but do not overthink; move quickly but without restless tension; and am neither consumed with winning the rally nor anxious about losing it, I am as serene in a moment as I have ever been or am likely to be.
But would if it’s a doubles game? How do I learn to play tennis then, you wonder?! Who serves? With doubles, the serving position rotates across teams and partners. For instance, if team partners A and B were playing doubles with team partners C and D, partner A would serve first and then it would rotate to partner C and then back to partner B and finally to partner D.
Play all your practice games in sets. Tennis is played in sets--you don’t just play one game and then go home! Sets consist of at least six games. The set doesn’t end until one player wins six games and has a margin of two wins over their opponent. For example, if one player has won six games and the other has won five, they’ll have to keep playing until the winner has two more wins than the loser.
The purpose of the Northwest Louisiana CTA is to make an positive impact on the tennis community by providing support and resources in the development of programs, events, leagues, and facilities promoting tennis as a lifetime healthful sport within North Louisiana to all ages and all skill levels. The NWLACTA will collaborate with the USTA and other associations and programs in the pursuit of these goals.