Tennis

Your Olympic experience with Haven: Tennis

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Whether you’re inspired by Andy Murray’s forehand, Roger Federer’s backhand or simply Wimbledon’s strawberries and cream, tennis produces some of the most delicious drama in the sporting calendar.

Dominated by the glitz and glamour of the four grand slams, the Olympics has joined the Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens at the very top of tennis schedule in recent years. The games give athletes a unique chance to compete for their countries rather than as individuals and have produced moments that have inspired all of us at Haven to get out onto the court more often. And we have no excuse, with so many of our parks having tennis courts of their own! We’re a proud partner of Team GB, and in this article, we explore the history of tennis, how it’s played, its involvement with the Olympics and how you can get involved in tennis on a holiday with us.

History of Tennis

History of Tennis

One of the oldest sports still being played today, tennis first appeared as a concept in the medieval era, with the early form of the game called ‘Real Tennis’. Way before rackets were developed, this game involved hitting the tennis ball with bare hands, a type of game I once played at school in London just a few years ago. When the game adopted rackets in the 16th-century, it quickly became popular amongst European royalty.

Tennis played on the grass courts made so famous by Wimbledon today was born out of the 1800s. Thinly cut grass played host to matches for the first time, enabling the ball to bounce quickly the way we see and play in the game today. The first Wimbledon was hosted by the famous All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in 1877, with the sport quickly becoming popular in the USA and France too.

What Tennis involves

What Tennis involves

Tennis today is played on a variety of court surfaces, ranging from your concrete courts at amateur level to impeccable grass, hard and clay courts used on the ATP and WTA professional tours. There are markings for singles and doubles, as well as a box that serves must land in to count. A tennis match is made up of sets, which in turn are made of games. The first player to six in a set wins the set, and the first player to win two sets wins the match (or three sets at Grand Slam level). A game is scored by the numbers 15, 30 and 40. The traditional scoring system means that mental as well as physical strength is needed for the toughest points at professional level.

The game can be played as individuals in a singles match, or in teams in a doubles match. To keep things simple, you could play the way I used to with my friends- a simple first to 10 points wins!

Tennis at the Olympics

Tennis at the Olympics

Tennis has had a turbulent relationship with the Olympics. Included at the first modern games in 1896, it was dropped in 1924 after a dispute over what defined an amateur player. After its return in 1988, it had to battle against the traditional four Grand Slams for prestige.

However, as the years have progressed respect for the Olympics has increased to point where some players see an Olympic gold medal as equal to a Grand Slam title. Many tennis players have been flag bearers for their countries at opening and closing ceremonies, with Roger Federer rating his 2008 doubles gold medal for Switzerland as one of the highlights of his career, and there are many of those to choose from! Since its return in 1988, the USA has dominated the tennis medal table, but many smaller nations have won rare gold medals on the tennis court too.

Tennis and Team GB

Tennis and Team GB

As with other recent tournaments in tennis, Great Britain’s hopes were pinned on Andy Murray for the past few Olympics. Today, there are also a vastly improved set of players around him. Johanna Konta has reached Grand Slam semi-finals, and Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie are top-level pros on the ATP tour. There are also several world-class doubles teams in the hunt for medals.

The most famous moment in Team GB tennis history also shows why the Olympic tournament is so valuable for top level players. Andy Murray won an amazing singles gold medal at the London 2012 games, fittingly hosted in Wimbledon. Having never won a Grand Slam, Murray returned to Wimbledon 12 months later to take home his first ever title. The Olympics inspired Murray to keep pushing for success, and he has gone to have an incredibly successful career. What's stopping you from following in Andy’s footsteps and being the next British tennis champion?

Tennis with us

Try Tennis with us at Haven

Tennis continues to grow in popularity in the UK, with participation, particularly in summer very high. We’ve continued to invest in our tennis courts, with 11 parks hosting these by the sea. Access costs just £10, so you and the whole family can practice your forehands, backhands, serves and slices. Don’t worry if it rains, we can help you rearrange your slot. Watch out for the windy sea breeze and enjoy!