Who are we?
The Sydney Real Tennis Club is a club with a difference. It marks the return to Sydney of the world’s oldest, most challenging and fascinating racket-and-ball game.
To make this possible, a group of enthusiasts has decided to create a special place in Sydney for the pursuit of things we value: athletic skills, good sportsmanship and social congeniality.
Supporters of our endeavour will not only enjoy this intriguing game; they will also be making a little history.
What is Real Tennis?
The game is tennis. No, not lawn tennis, for that was only invented just over a century ago. We mean the real thing, the ancient and original game. Our game is called real tennis in Britain and Australia, jeu de paume in France, and court tennis in the United States. To the swelling ranks of its devotees it is, simply, tennis.
This website tells you about Real Tennis, its history, its rules and its recent resurgence. Most importantly you’ll see our plans for a world-class real tennis club in Sydney.
Why take up real tennis?
This is still a fair question to ask, of an ancient European game which was, and still is, played by relatively few people.
The game’s devotees will give you many different answers:
“It’s the combination of lawn tennis, squash and chess”
“something different happens every time I play”
“it’s so tough, but the handicapping system can always make for a close game”
“It’s because of the people who play it, and their attitude”
“I like a game where sportsmanship, etiquette and good fellowship are still the norm”
“It’s because I am 74 and can sometimes beat these young whipper-snappers half my age”
“It’s because I can arrive unannounced at a club in London, Melbourne or Paris and be welcomed like an old friend …”
The truth is that real tennis is enjoyed by men and women of all ages and standards. Their common denominator is a love of the game.
History of the game
Nobody invented tennis. It evolved, over nine centuries, although the game’s main features – the court itself, the racquets, balls, scoring system and other rules – have been standardised since around 1600. The oldest indoor court in existence today, at Hampton Court Palace in England, was built by Charles I in 1625 (on the site of Henry VIII’s earlier court) and is still widely used for championship play. An outdoor court at Falkland Palace in Scotland will celebrate its 475th year of play next year. Read more here.
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