In honor of the US Tennis Open 2016, which begins today and runs through Sept 11, we offer the following fun facts.
The 1917 US Tennis Open was known as the Patriotic Tournament during WWI.
From 1908 -1961, the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times.
The tennis events known as “Majors” or “Slams” borrow the terms from bridge, not baseball.
In 1977 during a US Open match between John McEnroe and Eddie Dibbs, a fan named James Reilly was shot in the leg. It was unclear whether this was a stray bullet, from a sniper within the stadium, or by someone from a Queens apartment building. The shooter was never found. But after a brief delay, the match continued (and the crowd stayed put!!!) and McEnroe won.
Longest tennis match in history was at Wimbleton 2010 when during the 1st round, John Isner and Nicholas Mahut played 183 games that took 11 hours 5 minutes and stretched from June 22-24. Isner eventually won.
Longest professional tennis point: the ball passed over the net 643 times in a 1984 Richmond, Virginia match between Jean Hepner and Vicky Nelson. Nelson won the point after the 29 minute rally and eventually the match, (a six hour 31 minute marathon that remains the longest match played in a single day.)
Shortest match: In the 1922 Wimbledon final Suzanne Lenglen defeated Molla Mallory, 6–2, 6–0, in 23 minutes. Some accounts state that the match was over in 20 minutes
Since 2006, the challenge system in tennis has been a complex computer system named Hawk-Eye. It replaced Cyclops.
One explanation of the strange scoring system of Love, 15, 30, and 40 is that it is based on the face of a clock. But how then to explain 40 rather than the score leaping to 45? The theory is that when playing from deuce (40-40), two consecutive points are necessary to win the game. So, following the clock model (the hand moves from 40 to 50 when an advantage is won; back to 40 when an advantage is lost, and all the way to 60 when an ad is followed by another point. Some tennis historians claim that the original scoreboard looked like a clock with a movable arm.
Tennis: In 12th century France, in a game called Real Tennis, the server would shout “tenez,” take heed, like shouting “fore” in golf, leading to the name of the sport. Or perhaps from the Old French word, “tenetz” meaning to hold (i.e., a racket.)
Volley, from the French “a la vole,” meaning “on the fly.”
Let or Net: When the service ball hits the net, it is called a Let. It was coined from mishearing a frustrated Russian server who yelled “nyet.” (OK, not really. We made this up just to make sure you’re paying attention.)
Deuce may come from the French phrase “a deux le jeu,” meaning “to both is the game” (i.e., the two players have equal scores.) Or, it may indicate that two points are needed to win the game. Oddly, the French do not use the term, but instead use “egalite,” meaning equal.
The origins of “love” is disputed. It may have been derived from the French word for egg, “l’ouef” (although the contrary French refer to nil as “zero.”) It might come from the Dutch or Flemish word, “lof” meaning playing for honor rather than a wager. Similarly, that wagers were often taken, the winner took it all and the loser played for love of the game, so zero became known as love. Another theory, it’s from the old Scotch word “luff” meaning nothing.
Eddie Dibbs in 1972 coined the term “bagel” to refer to zero games won in a set.
Jack often uses the term, “puddler,” for the player who hits dinky shots (no matter how effective they are.)
Words that describe what it feels like to play tennis in Sarasota during the summer months:
Baking, blazing, blistering, broiling, burning, fevered, fiery, flaming, friggin’ hot, humid, oven-like, parching, roasting, scalding, scorching, searing, sizzling, smokin’, steaming, summery, sweltering, thermogenic, torrid, tropical—very warm.
And finally, a copy of a tennis poem, “40 Love” by Roger Gough
for an interesting analysis of the poem:
One of our sources:
Stuart Miller, May 24, 2013, Quirks of the Game: How Tennis Got Its Scoring System