Today Real Tennis is played by approximately 10,000 players in 4 countries, UK, USA, France and Australia.
There is a professional Real Tennis circuit with open tournaments played annually in each of the playing nations and a biennial World Championship. There is also a ladies Real Tennis circuit but importantly the best ladies are able to compete with the men in the major tournaments, entry is decided by ability not by sex.
For amateur players there are a range of different national and club competitions open to players according to their ability. The majority of club competitions make use of the handicap system to allow club and social players of all abilities ages and sexes to play each other in competitive and enjoyable matches.
There are 27 courts available to play in the UK over 24 different locations. The oldest The Rpyal Tennis Court at Falkland Palace in Scotland dates back to 1539 and there has been a court at Hampton Court Palace since 1529 although the current court is a more recent development built for William and Mary in the 1690s. The newest court at Wellington College was opened in 2016.
There are 11 courts in the USA mostly built at the turn of the 20th Century with one modern court Chicago that was re-built in 2012.
Australia has three courts in regular use in Melbourne, Ballarat and Hobart and in France there are currently two active courts in Paris and Fontainebleau, a court that dates back to 1702.
While all of the courts are built to a standard design the exact dimensions and construction materials differ from court to court. Subtle differences in the angles of the court features and the way a ball bounces or spins off the walls and floor mean that each court has its own playing characteristics to which players must adapt. Sometimes approaches and tactics that serve a player well on one court may result in more points being lost on another.
The number of courts around the world is seen as a challenge by many players who aim to play on all of them. Most clubs offer a warm welcome to visiting players and enjoy the chance to exchange news with the wider Real Tennis family. They will also be happy to arrange matches for visitors with local players of a similar ability. Some competitions can also assist players in visiting courts they might otherwise not easily reach. Melbourne’s Boomerang Cup often provides an excuse for players to tick off some of the more remote courts on a tennis playing holiday.