With all the different types of sports around the world, some people will debate on specific options being better or “more of a sport” than others. Even if a sport is vastly different from others out there, it still does not mean that they both can’t qualify as such.
Is Tennis A Sport? Tennis is a popular sport played all around the world. It lacks the physical contact that other sports have, and it is mostly an individual sport, but it is a sport. It takes a great amount of physical skill, practice, and mental toughness to excel on the court.
How Tennis Became A Sport
Tennis is a sport that has roots that go back as far as the 12th century. The game was not called tennis at the time, and it looked very different from the modern game, but there are enough similarities that people make connections. It was not until the 1850s and 1960s that a modern game started to develop using a ball and racquet.
The game was largely a lawn sport initially, but different court surfaces started to develop early on to make the game more accessible. By the turn of the century, tennis was becoming very popular in Europe, expanding to other parts of the world. Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open all started developing to give the best players a chance to compete at the highest levels.
With all that said, more than a few people believe that the game really did not start until the open era kicked off in 1969. There were plenty of players who became household names has tennis players before that, but it was a tricky situation between keeping an amateur status and becoming pro. By 1969, players could still play in the most prestigious tournaments while still earning money.
The most significant change that has happened in the last few decades is the racquet technology. Gone are the days of wood racquets and strictly natural strings. Today’s players have grown up using composite racquets and polyester strings to take huge cuts at the ball that produce a lot of spin.
This allows players to hit the ball harder than ever before, and that keeps players from serving and volleying like in the past. The majority of matches now occur with players at the baseline, and rushes to the net only occur periodically.
Why Do Some People Call Tennis An Activity Instead of a Sport?
The lack of physical contact is the major reason people will dismiss tennis as nothing more than an activity. While it does not have the physical part of the game like football, basketball, or even soccer, it is still very much a sport. Players are competing head-to-head against a single individual, and everything is intense as players train for years to get to that point.
Other racquet sports that do not involve as much movement around tend to lean more towards being an activity than anything else. For example, casually playing table tennis is a fun activity, but not necessarily a sport. Only those playing at a high-level and moving around a lot can say that they are playing a competitive sport.
The Physical Toll of Tennis As a Sport
Some people are in the camp of sports needing physical contact to qualify truly. While sports like basketball, football, soccer, and more are all extremely popular thanks to that physical contact, tennis still takes a huge toll on the body.
Tennis players need to be extremely fit in all aspects to compete at the highest levels. The game requires strength in the arms and legs, flexibility, endurance, and so much more. Since it is an individual sport, players also need to have extreme mental toughness and step up in the biggest stages.
From a professional perspective, tennis is one of the most challenging sports to have success. This is because unlike team sports, a player’s money rides on wins and losses. If a player is injured and misses time on tour, they do not earn any prize money. If their performance drops, they have no money coming in unless they have a slew of endorsement deals.
Finally, there is a very small offseason that players get a chance to enjoy at the professional level. It is tough to play at the highest level year after year and bring a level of intensity every time.
Tennis Is One Of The Most Expensive Sports
Tennis is certainly not the cheapest sport in the world, but it is cheaper than some people believe. It has never been easier to get into the game of tennis these days, as equipment is cheaper than ever, and tennis courts are still readily available in many communities.
To get started, all the person needs is a racquet and tennis balls. A top-of-the-line racquet will cost over $200, but there are other options built specifically for beginners that they can take advantage of. These are very affordable, and they last a long time for casual players.
Age & Skill Levels For Tennis
One of the more difficult things for any tennis player is to find quality opponents. People want to have suitable matches as much as possible, because it keeps things interesting for the most part. It is nice to win at times, but winning too often can become boring and not allow players to grow.
The advantage of playing tennis over team sports is that it takes just one other person to match the skill level. Once a person finds a few different partner options, they can begin scheduling as many matches as possible. It is a challenge for both players, keeping interest in the game high.
Tennis groups also help players stay connected to the game well into their retirement years. Tennis is one of the more popular sports for older players, especially when playing doubles. It allows people to stay active and play the sport they love, but they do not necessarily have to move around as much.
More often than not, people have to give up many other sports as they age, but tennis is still friendly enough on the body to play for decades.
The internet has made it considerably easier for people to find new players just about anywhere. They are a variety of apps that connect players to find quality opponents, and there is always the option to go to a local tennis place.
The Immediate & Long-Term Outlook For Tennis
At a professional level, tennis seems to be at the tail end of a very popular time. Players such as Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and more are nearing the finish line on their career. Once these top people step away, there are huge holes to fill for top talented players who have not had the same level of success to this point.
There will inevitably be future champions in tennis that come down the road, but there could be some dark times for ratings until that happens. No one in the generation behind these players has been able to capture the attention like their predecessors, so it is a little bit of a concern.
From a more general standpoint, tennis seems to be settling in as one of those sports that will always be a bit of a niche option. It is never going to become a mainstream sport, but there will always be a specific fanbase.
The group of people who get into playing tennis for fun should continue to grow, as they are figuring out that it is a sport that can be played for a lifetime. All it takes is one other person to get something going, and there is something very convenient about hitting the courts.