Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
Royal tennis was played in both England, France, Spain, the Italian States, and in the Habsburg Empire, during the 17th century, although it lose some popularity in England during the Interregnum. It developed from an earlier game played in France.
Game scoring is counted by fifteens, with 6 games played to win a set, even if the opponent has 5 of the games. A match is typically best of 5 sets.
The 2½ inch (64 mm) diameter balls are handmade and consist of a core made of cork with fabric tape tightly wound around it and is covered with a hand-sewn layer of white felt. They do not bounce well and weigh about 2½ ounces (71 grams). The racquets are 27 inch (686 mm) long and are made of wood, with very tight strings.
The Tennis Court
The tennis court (jeu à dedans) is a large building, enclosed on all sides by walls, three of which have sloping roofs known as "penthouses", and a buttress (tambour) off which shots may be played. The court is generally about 110 by 39 feet (33.5 × 11.9 m) including the penthouses, or about 96 by 32 feet (29.3 × 9.8 m) on the playing floor. The court is doubly asymmetrical. That is, not only is one end of the court different in the shape from the other, but the left and right sides of the court are also different.
Complexities of the Game
The service occurs from one end of the court only. The ball must travel along the penthouse, to the left of the server, and to the far end, called the "hazard" end.
When the ball bounces twice at the service end, the serving player does not generally lose the point outright. Instead a "chase" is called, and the server gets the chance, later in the game currently being played, to replay the point from the other end, but under the obligation of ensuring every shot he plays has a second bounce further back from the net than the shot he failed to reach. A chase can also be called at the receiving end, but only on the half of the receiving end nearest the net; this is called a "hazard chase". Those areas of the court in which chases can be called are marked with lines running across the floor, from left to right. One result of this feature is that a player can only gain the advantage of serving through skillful play. This is known as gaining a "chase", which ensures a change of end. It is possible then to play and entire game, with no change of service, and the same player serving every point.
Playing the Penthouse
The windows below the penthouse roof can offer the player a chance to win the point instantly, by hitting the ball into the opening. The largest window, located behind the server, is called the "Dedans" and must often be defended from hard shots coming from the "hazard" side of the court. Because of the weight of the balls, combined with the small racquets, it is necessary to defend the rear of the court as the primary focus of the game.