Tennis is played worldwide for recreation and cardiovascular exercise. It is also an Olympic sport and a popular spectator sport played by celebrity professionals, with four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.
Tennis is played by millions of people around the world, of all ages, both genders, and every ethnic and socioeconomic class. Among Americans, 3.7% of males report playing tennis, including 5.7% of those aged 18–29, and 2% of American females play tennis, including 3.1% of those aged 18–29.
Tennis in some form dates back several thousand years. Older forms of tennis were played on an indoor court and are sometimes referred to as real tennis or royal tennis. It was considered one of the “sports of kings.” Modern tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the 1860s, when Major Henry Gem and Augurio Perera combined the game of indoor racquets with the Spanish ball game pelota and adapted it for play on a croquet lawn. In 1874 they founded the first tennis club at Leamington Spa, England. Originally popular with upper-class English-speaking peoples, tennis eventually spread around the world. The rules of the game have changed very little since the 1890s.
Tennis is a two- or four-person, noncontact, weight-bearing, high-impact activity. Singles tennis is considered vigorous or heavy exercise—exercise during which it is possible to say only a few words before catching one's breath. Doubles tennis is considered moderate exercise—exercise during which it is possible to talk, but not sing. Tennis is a sport that requires sharp sudden turns, called cutting activities. It is less helpful for improving cardiovascular endurance than some other exercises, since it involves a great deal of starting and stopping. It is not necessary to play a game of tennis to reap its exercise benefits: an individual can practice serving and hitting a tennis ball against a wall and perform tennis drills.
A thorough warm-up should precede a game of tennis, such as jogging around the court for 5–10 minutes, followed by warm-up play. Gradual stretching exercises for the wrist, such as wrist curls, are excellent exercises for tennis.
A tennis racquet and tennis ball are necessary pieces of equipment for all players. Some individuals choose to wear loose-fitting clothes designed for tennis activity, and many wear sweatbands during play, as well. Good-fitting, rubber-soled footwear is necessary to be worn on the court surface.
Tennis courts can be indoors or outdoors. Most communities in the United States have public tennis courts as well as private tennis clubs. Professional tennis is played on four types of surfaces: clay; hard surfaces such as acrylic, asphalt, or concrete; grass; and carpet or artificial turf. Each of these surfaces differs in the speed and height of the ball's bounce.
The tennis court also includes a specially designed net, which divides the playing area.
Tennis can be played by anyone who can hold a racquet. It can be adapted for children and adults of almost any age and type of disability, including those in wheelchairs.
There are some risks of injury associated with tennis. These injuries often occur because:
To avoid these and other risks tennis players should:
Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) or overuse injuries are a major risk of playing tennis. Tennis elbow or tendonitis of the elbow is inflammation and soreness or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow from the repeated motion of the wrist or forearm. Tennis elbow is often caused by damage to a specific muscle of the forearm. There may be partial tearing of the tendon fibers that connect muscle to bone at or near their point of origin on the outside of the elbow. For example, during a groundstroke in tennis when the arm is straightened, the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle of the forearm helps stabilize the wrist. When the ECRB becomes weakened from overuse, microscopic tears can form in the tendon.
Other types of tennis RSIs include:
Techniques for avoiding tennis injuries include:
Athletes who play tennis are at risk for stress fractures. These are small cracks in a bone resulting from the repeated stress of the feet striking the ground. A change in the playing surface, such as switching from a grass court to a clay court, increases the risk of a stress fracture.
Tennis is a weight-bearing, bone-building exercise. It is an aerobic activity that works the large muscles of the arms, legs, and hips and raises the heart and respiratory rates. A 160-lb (73-kg) person burns about 584 calories in one hour of singles tennis. A 200-lb (91-kg) person burns about 728 calories and a 240-lb (109-kg) person burns about 872 calories in one hour of tennis. Tennis can increase production of endorphins—brain chemicals that create feelings of pleasure and reduce stress.
See also Bone health ; Fracture .
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American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 9400 W. Higgins Rd., Rosemont, IL, 60018, (847) 823-7186, (800) 626-6726, Fax: (847) 823-8125, email@example.com, http://www.aaos.org .
American College of Sports Medicine, 401 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202-3233, (317) 637-9200, Fax: (317) 634-7817, http://www.acsm.org .
American Council on Exercise, 4851 Paramount Dr., San Diego, CA, 92123, (858) 576-6500, (888) 825-3636, Fax: (858) 576-6564, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.fitness.gov .
American Medical Association, 2801 NE 50th St., Chicago, IL, 60611, (800) 621-8335, http://www.ama-assn.org .
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 9400 W. Higgins Rd., Ste. 300, Rosemont, IL, 60018, (847) 292-4900, (877) 321-3500, Fax: (847) 292-4905, email@example.com, http://www.sportsmed.org .
International Tennis Federation, Bank Lane, Roehampton, London, SW15 5XZ, UK, 44 020 8878 6464, Fax: 44 020 8878 7799, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.itftennis.com .
President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Ste. 560, Rockville, MD, 20852, (240) 276-9567, Fax: (240) 276-9860, email@example.com, http://www.presidentschallenge.org .
U.S. Tennis Association, 70 W Red Oak Ln., White Plains, NY, 10604, (914) 696-7000, http://www.usta.com .
Margaret Alic, PhD
Revised by Laura Jean Cataldo, RN, EdD