About the Game

An Introduction to Real Tennis

Real Tennis is, at first sight, reasonably simple - 

  • there are 4 walls which the ball may bounce against
  • a net over which the ball must be played
  • each player plays with a strung racket 
  • it is played a bit like lawn tennis

It is a fascinating game with plenty of opportunity to outwit your opponent rather than just overpower them with brute force or superior fitness. There are few sports like it, the closest perhaps being some of the games played in the Basque area of France and Spain.

The rackets are made of wood and the balls are hand made witn solid centres and covered with cloth. Because of this the ball can be given a significant amount of spin and part of the skill of the game is to understannd how that spin affects the trajectory in flight and once the ball makes contact with a wall. 

Scoring is similar to lawn tennis (love 30,  15 - 40  etc  then game) and sets are normally played first to 6 games. 

But perhaps the most significant aspect of real tennis is the handicap system. This helps ensure that players of quite differing standards may play each other and more often than not the match result will be close.

These are some of the  reasons why so many people find the game fascinating  

  • the court is completely asymmetric - giving untold variations in play
  • the ball is solid and that emphasises any spin imparted on it
  • there are roofs on three of the walls and a sticking out bit (called the tambour) at one end which are part of the court and can be used
  • service is onto the "left hand" roof (called a penthouse) and is always from the same end
  • one way of winning a point is to hit the ball into certain openings in the walls
  • you don't necessarily lose the stroke if you fail to hit the ball

The professionals can tell you more in your lessons - give it a try, hopefully you will be captivated too like so many of us!