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Tennis Scoring
Not to be outdone by his French counterpart, on the other side of the English Channel, Henry VIII (1509-47) was a skilled practitioner of the sport and famously built a court at the Royal Palace of Hampton Court, which still survives today and is used for modern competition.

Henry's second wife Ann Boleyn was watching a game of Real Tennis in Whitehall when she was arrested, and according to the official Web site of Hampton Court, legend has it he was playing when told she had been executed.  That was clearly not a "love" match but from Real Tennis it is generally accepted the modern tennis scoring system and terminology evolved.  The love has its origins from the French word for egg "l'oeuf", symbolizing "nothing" as Lesley Ronaldson, a Real Tennis professional, who lives at Hampton Court, told Open Court.  In lawn tennis it's 15-30-40 games, abbreviated from 45 in 1800," she said.  "The game evolved in Italy and moved to France and the scoring system evolved from there where everything was done by 15, so that was the natural thing to do to score points in 15s.  "And love for instance, love was something you did for nothing, you did something for nothing, it comes from there," she added.  Even the word tennis has French origins from the medieval era, derived from the tenez, from the verb tenir, to hold.  It was shouted out by a player about to serve in the same way a golfer hitting a drive in the direction of others shouts "fore."

Real Tennis continued to grow in popularity and was widely played in the 17 and 18century, but by the French Revolution and with European royal families besieged, interest dwindled.  Other racket sports also emerged such as racquets, squash racquets, and eventually lawn tennis, which is widely credited to an Englishman, Major Charles Wingfield, who patented the equipment and rules for the game in London in 1874.

Wingfield’s efforts were refined by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, who staged their first tournament on the lawns of Wimbledon 1877, with Spencer Gore winning the men's singles and the grand sum of 12 guineas ($18).  They adapted Wingfield's original version to play on a rectangular court and over the next few years made further changes to lower the net, reducing the size of the box into which the service could be hit and allowing overarm serving.

The "let" was also quickly introduced, giving the player a second chance when his delivery hits the net cord and falls into the correct service box.  Remarkably, the rules and scoring system for tennis have hardly changed since the 1890s with the adoption of the tie-break in the 1970s, being the only major difference.  With the tiebreak coming into play when two players are tied at six games apiece, this shortens the potential for marathon matches and was first widely used in the professional game.

The four grand slam events were also established in this era, with Wimbledon in 1877, the U.S. Open four years later in 1881, the French Open (1891) and Australian Open in 1905.


Common tennis court terms:

Alley: (Tramlines) : The lanes on each side of the singles court, one on the ad side, one on the deuce side. These are only used when playing doubles.
Back court: ('No man's land') : The area between the baseline and the service line. It is not recommended to play in this area because this is where balls usually bounce.
Baseline: The rearmost line of the court, furthest from and parallel to the net.
Center service line: The line dividing the two service boxes on each side.
Center niblet: The 12-inch mark at the halfway point of the baseline used to distinguish the two halves (and service boxes) of a tennis court.
Deuce service box or deuce court: The receiver's right side service box, or the opponent's left for the server, significant as the receiving side for a deuce point.
Middle T  See T.
Service box  The area on each side bounded by the singles sideline, the service line, and the net. There are left and right service boxes, separated by the center service line.
Service line  The line that is parallel to the net and is located between the baseline and the net. It marks the end of the service boxes.
Side T: The T shape formed by the service line and the singles sideline. There are four such side Ts, two on each side of the net.
T or Middle T: The T shape formed by the service line and the center service line.
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