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.
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.
- 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.
For a basic overview ...
Do It Tennis
, an online retailer of tennis equipment, has a glossary of tennis terms that leaves you knowledgeable without being overwhelmed with too much fancy lingo. Figure out what "love" means, when "sudden death" happens in a match, the more obscure names of racket parts, and more.
Sport page on tennis teaches you the rules of singles and doubles tennis, wheelchair tennis, and the difference between the surfaces on which the professionals play. It also provides videos of well-known players showing off their skills, and you'll find helpful tips that explain particularities such as line calls and the rules behind tie-breaks.
For the history of tennis ...
's three-page history of tennis is an excellent explanation of how tennis began and how it has evolved to the fast-paced, power-heavy game it is today. This article explains its birth in France in the 13th century and notes early trends and culture, the evolution of the women's game, and the technical innovations that have modernized the sport.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame
guides you through a list of memorable and successful tennis players from around the world, and gives an online tour through the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. The site also has information about affiliated championships and tournaments.
is the official site of the Olympic movement and has a sports history resource with a quick overview of Olympic tennis. This page won't win any design awards but it explains the sport's storied role in the Games quite well.
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.
- 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.
For tournament and TV schedules ...
The Tennis Channel
, the sport's premier cable television network, has a "Professional Tennis Tour Schedule" on their site that covers the year's tournaments. You'll find links to the tournaments' homepages, what groups compete (for example, ATP or WTA), the winner (if applicable), and prize money.
The USTA's TennisLink
site is a good resource for the tennis player as well as the fan. Narrow your search to find a chronological list of tennis tournaments happening in the next 12 months. Whether you're interested in visiting the tournaments or playing in them (USTA membership required), the coverage is complete and provides information on the entry dates, draws, cost, and contact information.
is an online magazine covering professional tennis that has a useful, easy-to-read schedule showing television listings several months out. Included here are regular networks like NBC, as well as ESPN and the Tennis Channel.
For online coverage of tennis tournaments ...
is a glossy, easy-to-navigate network site. NBC has had exclusive television rights to Wimbledon for several years, so you will find an extensive supply of free multimedia and original articles on the only grass court Grand Slam, as well as other perspectives on the pro field.
has good free coverage of player interviews, news feeds, players featured in amusing spots on The Late Show with David Letterman, and more tidbits from around the tour circuit.
For statistics on professional tennis players ...
, the site for the governing body of the men's pro tour, provides the most official and comprehensive stats on your favorite players including prize money, tournaments won, up-to-date news, free multimedia like video clips and photo galleries, a fantasy bracket section, and a shop (linked to the Tennis Warehouse, a specialty online retailer).
Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
is the official site of the women's tour, and is designed almost identically to the ATP Web site featuring brackets, multimedia, ranks, player stats, and bios. You'll also find a charity section and a shop with clothing, memorabilia, and literature.
For journalistic coverage of professional and college tennis ...
is widely considered the premier magazine on the sport. Its Web site, associated with ESPN, has up-to-date statistical information on players, articles and interviews, news, and special features on many aspects of the sport. The site's "Gear" section has articles on equipment, shoes and apparel, reviews of new products, as well as great bonuses like "What's in my Bag?", an article where the pros discuss their own gear.
is a great place to fill in the blanks from TENNIS. Though not as thorough in its online version, this magazine allows non-subscribers free access to special features on the major tournaments and interesting articles in the "Health and Fitness" section about improving your general fitness. The "Travel" section profiles dream destinations for tennis fans, and the "Instruction" section has useful tips.
clearly conveys its superior television coverage of tennis with an entire site section devoted to the sport, where you can browse multimedia and get recent stats and scores. Check out the "Grand Slam History" section for a useful source of who's won the four Grand Slam tournaments. One of the best features is the "Players" section, an encyclopedic source that provides a profile page for hundreds of pro players.
boasts an up-to-date feed that brings you the latest blog entries on pro tennis from around the Web. Often bloggers are the first sources of new information, and they're able to hand you news gathered from several other sources quickly and efficiently. It's also a great way to read others' opinions on the sport. Tennis-X brings you a myriad of recent entries from about a dozen bloggers to let you sift through only the headlines that interest you.
College Tennis Online
moderates NCAA championships and smaller regional tournaments and profiles the college teams and singles and doubles players who are standing out in the collegiate field.
published an article on 10 wacky moments in professional tennis spanning the entire championship era. Read about the male player who later became a woman, one of the ways John McEnroe earned the title of tennis's drama king, and several other surprising anecdotes about pros past and present.
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.
- 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.
For major tournament sales from their official venues ...
Wimbledon's official site
educates you on the ticket process for the famed lawn tennis championships just outside London. The only Grand Slam tournament to be played on grass has a public lottery for tickets that opens in late summer, usually August 1. Tickets are mainly dispensed through this lottery (you can sign up online), as well as to tennis clubs and associations and their members. There are also links here to sites that provide overseas tour packages for non-U.K. residents.
The U.S. Open championship
's official site provides several options for purchasing tickets, whether you are an individual, part of a group (business or club), or looking for gift cards or a "Supreme Package" to the event, which includes breakfast, VIP parking, superior seating, and a host of other benefits. Check out the FAQ section to see which package is right for you.
The Australian Open
's official site has guidelines on purchasing tickets for this hard court Grand Slam, held in January of each year in Melbourne. Features such as a $99 five-day ground pass and hospitality services for corporate fans are some of the perks to the 2008 championships. But for travel packages, you're better off consulting with one of the outside tour sites we've selected below.
The Roland Garros
or French Open's official site provides detailed instructions for getting to the sole clay court Grand Slam, including buying tickets and organizing a tour package. The site recommends purchasing only from legitimate ticket venues listed in the "How to Purchase Tickets?" section [http://2007.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/about/ticket.html]. Note that the process of buying tickets for the April tournament generally begins the previous November.
For package travel deals to major tennis tournaments ...
Steve Furgal's International Tennis Tours, Inc
. is affiliated with the USTA and provides escorted and independent tours to the Grand Slams and a handful of other tournaments including the Davis Cup. The group boasts being the Official Tour Operator of the Australian Open, the Pacific Life Open, Roland Garros (the French Open), and several others. As with most tour organizations, accommodation is included and the trips leave extra time for sightseeing.
Championship Tennis Tours
(CTT) brings you package travel deals to the four major Grand Slam tournaments and several other big tournaments. It is an independent organization that provides official tickets, hotel accommodation, corporate hospitality packages and custom packages. While not affiliated with major tournaments, CTT has been in operation since 1987 and is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents.
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.
- 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.
For tennis lessons...
program finder lets you enter your zip code to see what tennis schools and instructors operate in your area. This is one of the most thorough and widely used listings on the Web.
may resemble a fake site, with its long lists of links to each state, but it is fully operational. It is a classifieds listing of tennis instructors by state and city/town. Instructors simply post their ad or redirect users to the instructor's own site or organization where applicable. The site covers many urban areas but is not as complete as your local phonebook may be.
For coaching tips ...
, alongside news and multimedia coverage of the pro circuit, features free video instructions in six areas of your game: serve, net game, forehand, backhand, return of serve, and strategy. Be sure to check out the "Article Instruction" area located at the top of the page above as a written supplement to these video tips.
is a free resource with many avenues, including forums, videos, classifieds, and a particularly good "Ask the Experts"
section, where you can e-mail one of five seasoned tennis professionals with your questions. Many of these experts also run coaching programs, and their Web sites and e-mail addresses are both listed on Tennis4you. Consult the site's "Lesson Lounge"
area, too, for free online lessons.
British Tennis Parents
is a U.K.-based site with good advice for parents looking to get their kids started at tennis and improve their children's game. The site covers all the bases including the emotional and mental part of the game, coaching, partnering, competition, and supplemental fitness. The site also highlights different age brackets, starting from age three.
For injury prevention and care ...
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
's Sports Medicine department publishes a simple bulleted article explaining some of the most common tennis injuries and ways that simple stretches, warm-ups and a deeper knowledge base can prevent you from falling victim to them. Much of the advice is compiled with the help of Andy Shupe, a professional player who also coaches the men's and women's varsity tennis teams at UMass-Lowell.
The Sports Injury Bulletin
is an online publication that presents its helpful articles in a simple, text-based format, bringing research and expertise to the particularities of sports and their associated movements and injuries. This site gives you a general overview to the practices that can prevent a tennis injury. Consult the Archive Directory
for a complete list of articles arranged by category.
combines the efficiency of online shopping with useful written advice in several areas, including tennis. Read about common injuries, get advice in the "Ask the Experts"
section, and find braces, bands, and other devices for injury minimization and rehabilitation.
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.
- 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.
For product reviews ...
The Tennis Company
boasts an "extensive list of product reviews" covering equipment, shoes, apparel, and accessories. The clean, simple design of the site lets you navigate through gender, brand, and type of equipment to get thorough explanations of the products' strengths and weaknesses, comparisons to earlier models, and for whom the product is recommended. The emphasis here is not on critical reviews of products.
The BBC Sport page
mentioned in the "Where can I learn more about the sport of tennis?" section of this guide also features an equipment guide with great advice on shoes, clothing, and accessories and even has an explanation of racket parts (frame, handle, and strings) and what you should look for when buying a racket.
is a premier source of gear testing and reviews from magazine staff and pros. The "Gear" section is filled with articles, photos, and links to purchase the products in which you're interested.
For tennis equipment ...
is one of the foremost online retailers of tennis equipment, running the gamut from memorabilia, posters, and socks to rackets, towels, and shoes. There is also a handy "String/Grip" section, a "Buyers Guide," interesting videos, and even "Tennis Talk Forums," proving that the site is more than just a store.
is a glossier online retailer with front-page emphasis on special brand deals, new items, and the glamour of the professional players. Like Tennis Express, the Warehouse features a large collection of products, a "Learning Center," and has resources for team orders. The store also ships internationally to 100 countries (view the list of those countries here
, while a smaller retailer, proudly lists sales and specials on its front page and lets you cut through some of the extra clutter of Tennis Express to get straight to the top-tier goods like rackets and shoes. The site also sells racquetball, squash, and badminton supplies, and is generally a no-nonsense online alternative to a specialty sports store.
is a premier discount retailer with a great selection of shoes, apparel for men and women, and rackets. Compare Holabird with some of the resources above to check prices on tennis equipment before you buy.
The String Forum
is an entire site devoted to racket strings with a comprehensive examination of the strings available on the market, including reviews, analysis, galleries, and links to manufacturers.
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.
- 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.
To find a tennis partner in your area ...
gives you free access to potential partners and the ability to create your own player profile. Once registered, click on "Help Me Find A Partner" on the left-hand side of the USTA homepage and enter your zip code. On the following page, rate yourself as a tennis player and describe what type of player you are, for example "Weekend Warrior" or "Casual/Social" (you can pick more than one). The results list players near you and provide contact information.
For online forums and tennis message boards ...
is a free service that allows you to browse and leave posts for fellow tennis fans and players. The emphasis in this forum is on player improvement, but alongside sections on finding partners and improving your game is a good amount of information on the sport from a fan's perspective.
Pro Tennis Forums
, an easy-to-navigate online discussion of men's professional tennis, is an offshoot of a tennis fan's Web site that shows ATP rankings and results. The forums are perfect for the avid fan of professional tennis, but unfortunately the women's coverage is minimal. Discuss topics such as whether Federer is "too good for the sport" and which players to watch this year.
The Tennis Channel Forums
allow you to create brackets for major tournaments with other fans, get information about Tennis Channel broadcasts, chat with fans about the ATP and WTA tours, or talk about tennis vacationing in the "Tennis Travel" section of this TV channel's online forum.
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