The origins of tennis are mysterious and unknown. Although some historians have claimed that tennis was developed as far back as Ancient Egypt. However, the first recorded ball and racquet game was first played by monks located somewhere in southern France around the beginning of the twelfth century. They usually played with their hands and hit the ball against a wall. However, the monks soon developed crude instruments with which to strike the ball. They also developed the first type of playing court, which was usually the monastery courtyard. It is there where they devised a crude net with a rope to divide the playing areas. Over the next few centuries, the game spread to several countries in Europe, and it developed several variations. By the start of the nineteenth century, the game became popular and competitive in Great Britain and quickly developed into today’s modern tennis, which now consists of many organizations with numerous levels of competition for all ages and skill.
One of the main competitive organizations in the United States is the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The USTA is divided into three age groups. These age groups are junior, adult, and senior. The junior age group usually ranges from ages eight to eighteen. This program primarily focuses on the development of the player without breaching his or her amateur status. The next two age levels are adult and senior. These two levels have a wide range of amateur and professional tournaments for all levels of play. The USTA works in conjunction with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
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The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the next level of competition for advanced tennis players who are attending a college or university. The ITA is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Included in the ITA is the current membership of every coaching staff in all of the NCAA Divisions, NAIA Divisions, and also all of the junior college divisions. Through the ITA Intercollegiate Program, over 5,000 players at ITA-member schools participate in 80 ITA Regional Championships, which culminates into the Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships for NCAA Division I and the ITA National Small College Championships. At the next level, some advance amateur and college players choose to join the professional tour.
There are two main professional tours in the world. Those two are the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). The ATP Tour is the main tour for men, and the WTA Tour is for women. The professional has to qualify for these tours by playing satellites or challenger tournaments. These tournaments are located all around the world and there is almost one every week. Once the professional receives enough points from the challenger tournaments; he or she has qualified for ATP or WTA Tours. The ATP Tour consists of four major tournaments and over fifty smaller tournaments. There have been eight newly formed non-major tournaments that are called masters. These tournaments are the biggest of the non-major tournaments and often receive worldwide media attention. The four major tournaments are the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S Open. The Australian Open is located in Melbourne, Australia. The tournament begins on January 14th and ends on January 27th. The players play on a hard court surface. The French Open is the second major on tour.
The tournament hosts a clay court surface and is located in Paris, France. The tournament begins May 28 and ends June 10. The third major is a grass-court tournament called Wimbledon. This tournament is located in London, England, and begins on June 25th and lasts all the way up to July 8th. The final major of the year is the U.S Open. It is located in Flushing Meadows, New York. The players compete on a hard court surface at the end of August and all the way through Labor Day. The WTA has the same major tournaments as the men and plays at the same time, but they have a different non-major tournament schedule. Some would say the WTA is more entertaining than the men because they are more consistent and don’t base their game on power. However, their schedule consists of 64 events in 33 countries worldwide in 2001.
In conclusion, Tennis has developed much over the years. Tennis has come from the monastery courtyards of southern France to the stadium court of the U.S Open. Through this time tennis has suffered some good times and some bad times. Modern tennis has truly developed into a competitive sport with many levels for the player to choose from.
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