Learn About Tennis

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Tennis

Once a simple medieval pastime called jeu de paume, involving a ball and the palm of one's hand, tennis has evolved into one of the most physically challenging sports, not to mention an immensely popular event for spectators around the world. Whether you are a parent looking to help your child start playing, a sofa spectator looking to learn more about your favorite professional players, or a college student looking to test your game in some stiffer competition, the Web provides a multitude of sites catering to every breed of tennis enthusiast.

Learn About Tennis

Below we'll introduce a few sites that will get the beginner familiarized with the basics of tennis, and some that fill in the blanks for the more experienced tennis fan, player, or instructor.

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  • General sports resources, as well as journalistic publications, are a great place to learn about tennis, whether you want to become more familiar with the rules and terms or understand the sport's long history.
  • One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the rules of tennis is to play, or to watch professional tennis either live or on TV. Most TV commentators do a thorough job of explaining the course of a game in a way that is friendly to viewers less knowledgeable about the sport.
  • Even the best tennis retailers have informative sections of their site that explain rules and equipment, but fan and player forums (listed in this guide's final section) are also a great way of talking to other players and becoming more familiar with rules and playing strategies.

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Professional Tennis

The world of professional tennis is more than just popular spectator events around the world; it's an inspiration to players and would-be players. In this section are guidelines and sites that give you a better picture of the professional tennis world and keep you up to date with the players and tournaments.

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  • In the United States, professional tennis is regulated by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA). Internationally, the sport is overseen by the International Tennis Federation. The WTA, or Sony Ericsson Women's Tennis Association, organizes the women's pro tour circuit globally. The ATP is the Association of Tennis Professionals, which handles the men's pro tour circuit.
  • Familiarize yourself with some of the governing bodies in the sport, because their Web sites are a great place to start finding statistics and other useful information about players and tournaments. The ATP and WTA Web sites also provide some insight and background into the decision-making processes in pro tennis. The sites offer information on rules and regulations, which tournaments are part of the tour, and some interesting statistics behind the players, events, and prizes. The USTA site is a good resource for finding professional tennis stats, tickets, and more.
  • Television networks continue to spruce up their Web sites with on-demand video, user forums, breaking news, and other interactive features for sports fans. You're likely to find that the networks with the best coverage of the sport on television also have a wealth of information devoted to that sport online.
  • The official sites of Grand Slam tournaments are all-encompassing resources with sections on the tournament history, archives of match scores, multimedia, and more.

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For online coverage of tennis tournaments ...
For statistics on professional tennis players ...
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Attend a Professional Tennis Tournament

The WTA and ATP tours participate in dozens of tournaments a year, many of which serve as entertaining and affordable alternatives to the Grand Slams. In this section we'll give you the tools to find the tournaments you might be interested in and show you how to get seats.

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  • Though auction sites and general ticket sites like Ticketmaster and TickCo  are viable options for tennis tickets, many tournaments' official Web sites provide clear guidelines about how to purchase tickets, travel packages, and corporate deals.
  • Before you buy, consult with the official site of a tournament, which will tell you which ticket sellers (apart from itself) are reputable and legitimate. Buying tickets from general ticketing Web sites or agents can be risky, especially for foreign tournaments.
  • Popular tournaments sell out fast but you can often find tickets still available on general ticketing sites like eBay and StubHub. Assess the validity of the ticket by exploring the profile of the seller, including ratings and user comments.
  • If it's a smaller tournament you're interested in, check the Tennis Channel's calendar to find dates and links to tournament homepages.
  • Explore the major airline and travel agencies of a country to see what options are available. For instance, Australia's Qantas Airlines provides package deals to the Australian Open via this link.

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Improve Your Tennis Game

Whether you're looking for lessons, injury advice, or simply want to take advantage of the Internet's technology to get video tips on your serve and volley, the sites in this section aim to jumpstart your game.

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  • Many of the tennis magazines and other publications like BBC Sport, mentioned earlier in this guide, feature interactive tips and tricks for your tennis game that are free, frequently supplemented, and incorporate the expertise of coaches and players.
  • The USTA, as the national tennis governing body, is the best place to start if you're looking for a lesson program, club, or partner.
  • Classifieds sites like Craigslist feature sections for lessons, and often you can find ads from tennis instructors. But the reputability of such people is not guaranteed; you're best off finding an instructor's or organization's Web site to learn more about the instructor's background and experience.
  • Word-of-mouth is a good way to find instructors with whom friends and colleagues have found success. Check out the forums we list in the final section of this guide to get recommendations from other tennis players and find out how they came across their instructor or club.
  • Although magazines, bloggers, and online instructors or coaches can be great sources of advice on injuries, they may not be as reliable as the advice you'll find at a general medical or sports injury specialist site, where the articles published are often bolstered with medical research as well as professional experience.

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Buy Tennis Equipment

There are plenty of tennis-specific online retailers carrying thousands of products, frequent price cuts, special deals on brands and for teams, as well as unique, journalistic features like forums and gear guides. Some of these even ship internationally, and others cater especially to those looking for discounts. Below are stores that together cover most bases. You can use them to comparison shop, browse photos, price check, and make a purchase.

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  • Use the general information outlined by knowledgeable tennis players and coaches on sites like BBC Sport and TENNIS Magazine to get more familiar with the technicalities of apparel, shoes, and equipment.
  • It's always best to try on products you're not familiar with in a store, but use online product reviews and comparisons from experienced equipment testers and tennis players to get an initial picture of the products in which you're interested.
  • Specialty tennis retailers like the ones below are preferred over general sports stores like The Sports Authority because they carry a wider stock of tennis-specific brands and items, and generally have a staff more knowledgeable about the sport and players' needs. However, if you're just looking for common items and don't need much help, you'll often do better on price at the big-box chain stores' sites.
  • Check with the Web sites of official manufacturers to see where their products can be found, whether online or in brick-and-mortar stores. Most have a "Store Locator" or "Find a Retailer" link clearly visible on their homepages.
  • Don't shy away from auction sites or general classifieds like eBay and Craigslist, especially if you're looking for a simple fix for a racket or other piece of equipment and don't want to stress about brand names or high-cost models.

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Connect with Other Tennis Enthusiasts

In this section are sites and suggestions that can help you connect with players and fans, whether to bet on a fantasy bracket, find a partner or coach, get advice, or just chat about your favorite pro players.

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  • As we've already mentioned, the USTA's site is a must-bookmark find, even if you're not actually a member of the organization. To use its program and partner finder you need only join their Web site, which is free.
  • Browse around other tennis sites you like, even bigger publications like ESPN.com, and you will often find a "Forums" section specifically catered to tennis and other sports that may interest you.
  • Be sure to check out social bookmarking sites like Delicious and search terms like "tennis forums" to see what your Web-surfing peers have discovered in the same vein. This can often pull up more interesting sites than a normal search engine would.
  • As always with online forums, there are occasionally users who use offensive language, and advice from other forum users should always be checked against professionals, especially in the case of medical concerns.

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To find a tennis partner in your area ...
For online forums and tennis message boards ...
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