View Full Version : before serving

Mister drool
03-15-2012, 07:52 AM
Historically speaking when did the ball bouncing before serve actually started?

I was wondering this today because of the 20 second rule that some spaniards and other guys in the atp pros break all the time, and star to wonder just when did this behaviour got so strong that you cant even serve a proper serve without bouncing the ball a couple times right before it. It just doesn’t feel like the complete motion without it.


Getting back in history, we arrive at British Victorian age where lawn tennis was played. Bouncy rubber balls where somewhat developed by an Indian army major named Walter Clopton Wingfield that first had the idea of bringing a cauchu (rubber type material) based ball into raquet-tennis and real-tennis has it was known back then. Before the use of this balls the racquet tennis was a more of a street game, similar to the modern squash and was played using a wall with roughly made wood paddles and using leather balls, so I’m guessing no bouncing on the ground here to star the game.

Real-tennis or royal-tennis on the other hand, was more of a prestige hobby for the noble man, and the sport had its own facility in a place called Hampton fields (can anyone verify this info?) and was first introduced by Henrique VIII who had brought the game from France under the name “tenetz” that roughly translates to ball pitcher. This one was played by hand or with a small wooden hitter bat, and I have no idea what type of ball they used, but later on the use of the cauchu balls became regular practice.
In the XIV century closed sports venue with rocky pavements where created to play the real-tennis and a thin net was extended at mid “court” to separate both half’s. but before the use of Major Wingfield innovative balls (no pun intended) real-tennis had some difficulties in capturing the interest of bigger audience. In 1872 there was an article written by a man named Harry Gem that considered bringing the real-tennis into the beloved English grass fields. Major Wingfeild would then had his opportunity to bring his product to life. He design a similar outdoor court to the one already used in real-tennis and a simple set of rules, and called his new sport the “Spharistique” (greek name for “ball game”).

So in the early 1870 Major Wingfield had his game for sale for 5 guineas where you would get a box with 2 racquets, some ball, a net, a white long ribbon to mark the court, and two post to stretch the net. The court was trapeze shaped and the point system was similar to the one used in real-tennis.
But the balls bounced in grass. So I wonder…

Did it all started back then?

03-15-2012, 10:03 AM
The solution to speeding up the game is solved by two other reasons not ball bouncing. Eliminate towelling off after every point, 90% of the time this is because of habit rather than sweat. (Anyone ever watch Rusedski for this?). Also eliminate choosing balls, asking for five balls and tossing away three is ridiculous. The rule should be play what you're given.

Mister drool
03-15-2012, 10:45 AM
I agree. The towel and ball business sometimes are taken to extremes.
Never saw greg rusedski in this situation, but I never was a follower of his matches. Roddick on the other hand, how actually need a bathtub just for his cap. I mean the guy sweats from the tip of his cap…. I did not even know that that was possible… does he still have hair left?
I guess the 20 second rule is about right, for a new point to take place. Given that if an extreme rally of 20 plus hits is made, then the chair umpire, mast take into consideration a fair amount of time for player to catch their breath.
But my point of view in the original post was more of a view of the feeling you get with and without the ball bounce when serving. Why is it so “special”, I mean, really, my serve is not the same thing if I don’t bounce the fuzzy yellow a couple times, and im guessing that for 90% of all people here it is the same.