Tennis Facts for Kids

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Tennis combines physical and mental skills and is a sport kids can learn quickly. There are individual tennis classes available at many local public facilities, often run in conjunction with community government, and you'll typically see an increase in participation when a top American player emerges on the tennis scene.


People originally played tennis on carefully groomed lawns. It was a sport of rich people and took place on estates or private clubs. Today, the major tennis tournaments, known as the Grand Slam tournaments, feature different court surfaces. Competitors in the Australian Open and the U.S. Open play on hard courts made of a synthetic surface. The French Open has clay courts. The oldest tournament, Wimbledon requires players to wear predominantly white clothing while on the grass courts.


Tennis courts are standard around the world. The playing area of a singles tennis match measures 27 feet wide by 78 feet long. The doubles playing area is 36 feet wide. A net divides the court in half and measures 3 feet high at the center. You must hit the ball over the net and within or on the boundary lines during play.


You hit the ball only with the tennis racket, ideally in the middle of the stringed racket head. Most players hold the racket with one hand to hit a forehand stroke, but might use two hands to help with a backhand stroke. Tennis balls are usually bright colors such as neon yellow to help player keep sight of them. The balls are hollow and have a felt-like finish. You wear tennis shoes or sneakers on the court so that you do not slip and injure yourself. You win points every time you are the last player or team to successfully hit the ball into your opponent's court.


American tennis stars emerged on the international tennis scene throughout the last century, and today both men and women entertain large crowds with their talent. Althea Gibson was the first African-American allowed at U.S. Open Championships in 1950. Other famous female tennis players in recent years from the United States include Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and sisters Venus and Serena Williams. Recent famous male players include Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.


Tennis is a good game for children because it develops mental skills along with physical prowess. Concentration and patience are essential for winning. Strategic thinking helps smaller players defeat more powerful opponents, because being swift and smart is as important as having broad shoulders. Above all, tennis teaches manners and following rules. Keeping control of your temper is an important skill that top tennis players like Roger Federer learn on their way to becoming champions.