Running from the 28 – 30 December 2017, the 10th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC), is one of the hottest tickets in town, sporting an epic lineup of the world’s top tennis players in Abu Dhabi – including world number one Rafael Nadal and 12-time Grand Slam Champion Novak Djokovic. MWTC wants to help you stay ahead of the game, by knowing the game! From the scoring system to the player rituals, tennis is a full of traditions and quirks that can be quite mind boggling. Here are MWTC’s top 10 facts that will make you a tennis pro in no time!
- Where does Tennis come from?
Tennis is believed to have originated in the monastic cloisters in Northern France in the 12th century. Interestingly, the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand. At that time, it was named “jeu de paume” (game of the palm). Rackets came into use during the 16th century.
- Why do tennis players grunt?
We’ve all heard those strange noises players make during sporting events, whether it’s to distract the opponent or to just let out some air. Tennis is no different from the rest, letting out odd grunts to divert their opponent’s attention, in addition to giving them that extra strength when hitting the ball.
- What does “Love” mean?
It’s important to note that the term “love” is to express a score of zero within a game. There are a few scenarios where the score of “love” is used in a game of tennis, these include: 15-love, 30-love, 40-love. While the exact origin of the term “love” in tennis remains a bit of a mystery, there is a belief that the score of love originates from the phrase “to play for love” (of the game). Others believe that love comes from the French word for “egg” – “l’oeuf” – because zero resembles an egg.
- What does it mean when the umpire says “Let”?
A “Let” is used when the player takes a serve and the ball hits the net cord but lands in the opposite service box. In this case the server gets another chance to serve.
- What does it mean when someone serves an “Ace”?
An “Ace” is a legal serve and is called out when the opponent does not return the ball; winning the server a point. In professional tennis, aces are generally seen on a player’s first serve, where the server can strike the ball with maximum force, spin or slice and take more chances with ball placement, such as the far corners of the service box.
- What kind of courts can you play Tennis on?
There are three main court surfaces used in professional tennis Grand Slams:
Clay Courts – Clay courts are made of crushed shale, stone or brick. This type of surface slows down the ball and produces a high bounce in comparison to grass or hard courts. The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament to use clay.
Hard Courts – Hard courts are made of uniform rigid material. This surface is often covered with an acrylic surface in order to give greater consistency for the ball to bounce rather than other outdoor surfaces. Hard courts can vary in speed, though they are faster than clay but not as fast as grass courts. The Australian Open and the US Open are the Grand Slam’s played on Hard Court.
Grass Courts – Grass courts were once among the most common tennis surfaces, as it is the fastest surface to play on. They consist of grass grown on very hard-packed soil, which adds additional variables: bounces depend on how healthy the grass is, how recently it has been mowed, and the wear and tear of recent play.
Wimbledon has been the Grand Slam played on Grass since 1877.
This year’s 10th edition of the MWTC will be played on hard court, to help prepare the players for the start of season and the Australian Open.
- How does the scoring system work?
The games are scored starting at ‘0’ or “love” and go up in point increments 15, 30 and then 40 – followed by the game point which wins the match. This is unless the score goes to ‘deuce’ (where both players are on 40) and then the player needs to win the game by two points.
According to tennis historians, scoring was based on every 15 minutes around a clock, so technically it should be 15, 30, and 45. However, this didn’t accommodate the two additional points needed to win the game so it was amended to 40, followed by increments of ten to reach 60 to win. This was back in the 19th century, so the true reason may have been skewed in the history books since!
- Why do players check the ball before serving, what are they looking for?
Just like any other sporting games, there must be a couple of extra balls on the side, in case of any change in the ball pressure which can affect the bounce of the ball. Balls experience a lot of wear and tear, due to the intensity and speed in which they are being hit. That’s why the players are so particular with choosing the right ball, as it could risk them hitting a perfect point. In any professional match, two new cans (three balls each) are used after the first seven games and then after nine games henceforth. The reason for the first set lasting only seven games is because the same balls are used to warm up.
- How many racquets do professional tennis players go through in a match?
In a Grand Slam tournament, players usually have a collection of six to 10 racquets they carry. All the rackets are freshly strung before each match with the exact same strings/tension, although they may string a couple at a slightly different tension to help with mid-match adjustments, in case they break any or to make sure it has the perfect pressure! At the end of the day, the number of racquets a player goes through is up to the individual – some players like to stick to their “favourites” while others like to play with a fresh racket every ball change!
- What is the etiquette when watching a tennis match?
Tennis has a unique set of rules and etiquette, so it’s important to take note of these beforehand to save you from an embarrassing situation!
Feel free to clap, cheer and enjoy the moment in between points, but the players won’t appreciate a noisy crowd when they are in the midst of playing, so stay quiet when the ball is in play!
Make sure you get all the refreshments you need and visit the bathroom beforehand as spectators should wait for a game to end to get up from their seat and move around. Selfie takers beware – as much as the players are happy for you to take pictures, avoid using a flash and stay out of their eye line.
Finally – enjoy it! It is easy to get immersed and caught up in the excitement of a tennis match. Put your phone on silent, put it in your pocket and get into it!