Sports - Tennis

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Lawn tennis is a comparatively modern modification of the ancient game of court tennis. Alex Hamburger, a former Wimbledon and Romanian Davis Cup player once mentioned in a BBC sports programme that the ancestor of tennis seems to be a ball-game called 'La Paume', which is still played in the Picardy area of France. 'La Paume' means the palm of the hand, and in this game the ball was hit across the net with the palm of the hand. The scoring of points at 15, 30 and 40 goes back many centuries and is explained as follows. When the server won a point he was entitled to move nearer the net by 15 feet; then another 15 feet after the next point; and yet another 15 feet after the third point. This totals 45 feet, but as this brought the players too close to the net they were moved back by five feet: hence 15, 30 and 40.

As the game apparently originated in France, it is not surprising that many of the terms used today are derived from French words. The term 'love' comes from 'l'oeuf', an egg, which has the shape of nought or zero. 'Deuce' comes from the French 'deux', when both players have 40 points, 'quarante-a-deux'.

The first alteration to 'La Paume' was gloves on the player's hands; hence comes the game of Fives, still played in many English public schools. The next development was the really crucial one of holding a racquet and hitting the ball with it. Since 'to hold' is 'tenir' in French the term 'tennis' came about.

Almost 100 years ago the game of lawn tennis was brought into Thailand through two channels. The first was English merchants who were carrying on business here and who were avowed tennis players. The other channel was Thai graduates of English schools who liked playing tennis as a form of exercise. In 1926 an association was formed and named the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand.

Towards the end of 1927 the Association organized an All Thailand Championship match for the first time and has been organizing matches in Bangkok ever since. It was not until 1951 that regional matches were added. There are now four regions: Central, Southern, North-Eastern and Eastern. They all have regular championship matches.

Tennis is no more a ball and racquet game. There is far more attached to it today. Players are more interested about the courts on which they play, the equipment they use and the modern facilities, which are offered.

In Bangkok, with so many tennis clubs and complexes being constructed over the past years, the question everybody is asking is: 'Where could modern tennis equipment be purchased?'

It is unknown exactly how many tennis players and courts exist in the Kingdom, but current estimates are 25,000 players and more than 1,000 courts. Tennis is a booming sport in Thailand and from Bangkok it has spread out to the provinces.

The Thais are not brilliant tennis players and recently there has been an effort to train young new players. It is hoped that the new generation of tennis players will be able to play their way to the top.

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