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The GIST's Guide to Tennis

Unbeknownst to the majority of ppl is that tennis is actually quite a bougee sport with roots back to 16th century France where the sport was Royalty’s fave pastime.

The GIST

Anywho, tennis is a racquet sport (duh) that is played individually or in doubles. Tennis is played on a court - grass, clay or hard surface court. The point of the game is to hit the tennis ball over the net so that the opponent can’t return the ball back over the net. And, points are awarded when one player isn’t able to get the ball back over. The scoring for tennis is pretty nutty. It’s measured in individual games, then sets, then match. The score in each game is 0 (aka love...we dunno why), 15, 30, 40 (40-40 is called deuce), and advantage. We again dunno why the score goes up by intervals of 15 and then just all of a sudden randomly goes to 40.

 

How is it organized?

What’s great about tennis is that it can be played indoors or outdoors so that the season is all year round, with it really heating up in the summer. The Association of Tennis Professional (ATP) World Tour hosts tournaments across the world over the year (FYI, WTA is for Women’s). Tournaments are set up in a bracket format. Similar to golf, a player’s world ranking is based on how they place in ATP/WTP World Tour tournaments.

The most important tours are the ‘Grand Slam’ events, which are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. These events get the most media attention. The most prominent tournament is Wimbledon which is played in London, England every July. Wimbledon started over 125 years ago and is played on a grass surface, which makes the game move a whole lot faster. Players have to wear all white get-ups while playing. Literally #cringing thinking of all of those grass stains.

 

The Best of the Best

Although tennis might be old school at heart, starting in 2007, it is the only mainstream sport that pays out women and men the same $$$ in tournaments and, for the most part, gives males and females the same airtime on TV. 

Romanian Simona Halep is currently the number one female in the world. However, this is largely because the true number one, American, Serena Williams, was OOO while she was pregnant with her first baby, Alexis Ohanian

Prior to giving birth, Serena dominated the courts as the world record holder for the most Grand Slam wins across female singles and doubles play! You may also recall Serena absolutely slaying in Beyonce’s “Sorry” music video. You should also know that based on the timing of her pregnancy, that she was pregnant when she won the Australian Open. Like WHAT THE HECK!!! We can’t even run 2km when we have a food baby. 

The number one male in the world is Roger Federer (Switzerland). Federer has been touted as the best male tennis player of all time with 20 Grand Slam titles. Off the court, he’s a total gentlemen and also remarkably has 2 sets of twins!! However, there are a group of men that really are the top cheese, and they tend to flip flop between who is the alpha male. Other names to know are Andy Murray (England), Novak Djokovic (Serbia) and Rafael Nadal (Spain). 

In the past, Canada wasn’t known for producing tennis talent; however, that has changed in the current era with Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard. Raonic is currently 31st in the world, but was as high at 6th last year. The drop in ranking is mostly due to injury. In addition to having a killer serve, Raonic sports a killer hairstyle that miraculously does not move on the court. Bouchard soared onto the scene in 2013. Although the tour has been harder on her as of late, Bouchard is best known for being the first Canadian to reach the finals of a Grand Slam singles. She was ONLY 20 at the time!! Following the Rogers Cup in 2017, we’ve also been keeping a close eye on Denis Shapovalov - at the ripe age of 18, he beat Rafael Nadal (ranked #1 in tournament) in the largest upset by a Canadian tennis player in history. He’s totally lived up to the hype as he’s now ranked 23rd in the world. ATTA BOY! 

 

Wait, what?

Did you know that Rafael Nadal plays tennis left-handed but he’s actually naturally right-handed?? His Uncle taught him how to be a lefty so it would be an advantage on the court. Talk about foresight! 

Did you know that tennis was initially played with your hands?? We’re asking u pls try this at home and send us a vid.

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Glossary

Game:

Tennis is played in a game, set, match format. First is the game. A games scoring is from 0, 15, 30 to 40 until there is a game winner. Talk about wacky scoring.

Set:

Second is the set. A set is made up of the games. They are best 2 out of 3 sets for women, and 3 out of 5 sets for men. To win a set, you have to be the first player to win 6 games and you also have to win by 2. If you don’t win by two, it goes into a 7th game tie break.

Match:

The match is the one worth all the marbles. To win a match, you have to win the majority of the sets. Again, 2 for women, 3 for men for most tournaments. 

Single games:

1 player vs 1 player. Bring it on sista.

Doubles:

2 players on each side of the court face off vs. each other. Normally one teammate is in charge of the front court (closest to the net) and one teammate is in charge of the backcourt (baseline).

Serve:

Is used to start a point (beginning of a game). Players toss the ball decently high up in the air and try to overhand hit it at the highest point of the toss so they can get as much force behind it as they can. The ball must go over the net and onto the opposite side of the court. Then the other player tries to return it. If the ball touches the net during the serve you get a “let” and get to redo. You’re allowed 2 tries to serve so you better focus!!

Fault:

The server doesn’t get their serve in the service box (hits the net, completely misses) OR their foot moves beyond the base line. That’s a no-no.

Double Fault:

The server doesn’t get their serve in twice. Womp womp. Opponent wins the point.

Ace:

A serve that the opponent simply cannot even touch normally because of it’s sheer speed. STOP - Can’t touch this...duh duh duh, da da da da

Rally:

Sequence of back and forth shots between two players. Starts with a serve and players rally until someone scores (the other player can’t return the ball) ending the rally.

No Mans’ Land:

The area between the service line and base line. It’s not a great place to chill because the ball’s gonna bounce in at your feet and you’re awkwardly going to try and grab it and likely be unsuccessful.

Double’s Alley:

The two strips on the far left and right of the court that is only counted as in if you’re playing doubles.

Challenge:

When the ref calls it out but you’re like “nah b that was certainly in” (or vice cersa). Each player gets 3 challenges per set.

Forehand:

Hitting the ball with your dominant hand on your dominant side. The racquet is open-faced once you hit it.

Backhand:

Hitting the ball with your dominant hand (or two hands!) on your non-dominant side. Similar to the backhanded compliments, this type of stroke can be sneaky.

Love:

Love stands for zero. Pretty depressing take on love, no??

Deuce:

Deuce occurs when it’s tied 40-40. When it’s tied 40-40, you have to play additional points because again, you have to WIN BY 2!

Advantage:

When it’s 40-40, and then you win next point, it’s called “advantage” because you only have to win one more point to win the game. If one player has advantage, and the other player win’s the next point, it goes back to 40-40. You can imagine that this can lead to a pretty entertaining, teeter totter end to a game!

Breakpoint:

In general, the person who is serving wins the game because having a serve is an advantage to start the rally. Breaking someone means that you win the game when it’s the other person is serving. Breakpoint is that moment when you can win the point to take the set to break your opponent.

Unforced error:

Sometimes you win a point because you did something right (high five!), but sometimes you win a point because your opponent does something wrong. This is called an unforced error. It normally consists of hitting the ball into the net, or my personal fave, a swing and a miss.

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FAQs

Do the better players play singles or doubles? 

The quick and dirty answer is that the better players play singles. The difference between singles and doubles is that in singles, you don’t play with the “doubles alley” section of the court, which are the thin rectangular strips on the right and left side of the court. It’s not too much more surface area so having two people covering a court is much easier. That said, a lot of the best singles players still play doubles, like the sister duo, Venus and Serena Williams. 

What’s the difference between major tournaments and minor tournaments?

There are four major tennis tournaments on the tennis tournament circuit: the Australian Open, French Open (aka Roland Garros), Wimbledon and the US Open. A lot of the time, these major tournaments are also called Grand Slams. Otherwise, the other tournaments aren’t considered “minor”; they’re just considered as tournament. The major difference with the Grand Slams is that there’s more money on the line, so all of the best players ensure they can play. Players also collect more “points” from Grand Slams so their results in these tournaments affect their rankings more. 

Why is serving so important? 

Generally, the server has the advantage in a set. That’s why it’s a HUGE DEAL when the returning player (person without a serve) “breaks” the person with a serve.  The serve is important for a whole lotta reasons: 

  • You’re the first one to hit the ball which is so important. This is like talking first over a dating app. Such a power play.

  • With a serve, in comparison to any other strokes, you’re hitting the ball with a raquet from high above your head meaning that you can have the most power as possible. BOOM BABY.

Why is tennis so mental?

Tennis players have some of the best mental toughness of any sport. Why?! A couple of reasons. First, tennis (outside of doubles) is a one-on-one game. The players are on the court all by themselves, with no teammates to talk to, no one to talk strategy with, no one to joke around with, and no one to pick them up when they could be feeling down. Next, tennis matches are SO FKN LONG. The average length of a women’s game is just over two hours, and for men’s it’s about three and a half hours. That’s like running at least a half marathon or even a marathon ALL BY YOURSELF!!!! The heck! No TY - v happy to keep reporting on tennis and not go pro. 

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 The GIST's Guide to Wimbledon

Chip, chip cheerio gov’na, it’s the time for the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon.

The GIST

Wimbledon is the third (out of four) Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. The tourney is always held at the beginning of July, and this year, it’s taking place from Monday, July 1st to the 14th. Yes, that means Wimbledon and the FIFA Women’s World Cup are on at the same time, so you might have some difficult decisions to make on which to watch. Oh, bollocks.

Wimbledon takes place at the All England Tennis Club just outside of downtown London, England and is the only Grand Slam to be played on grass. Grass courts can be a little bit slippery and balls tend to take some odd/low bounces. So, in relation to other courts (hardcourt, clay court, etc.) rallies tend to be a bit shorter meaning that serves and returns are even more important than normal.

Wimbledon is also the only tennis tournament that requires all players to wear ONLY white, not even “off-white” is allowed. SMDH at whoever thought the combination of a grass court and white clothing was a good idea. We’re legit feeling anxious just thinking about all of the grass stains.

Need to brush up on your tennis knowledge before watching Wimbledon? No problem. Check out our guide to tennis here.

Why is Wimbledon such a bloody big deal?

Wimbledon is not your average tennis tournament. Similar to Harry Potter there’s something magical about it. Here are a few reasons why Wimbledon is such a bloody big deal: 

  • Wimbledon’s history: Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world having started back in 1877. Because of how old it is, a lot of tennis traditions, rituals, rules and formats actually started with Wimbledon.

  • The Royals are ALWAYS in attendance: Princess Kate Middleton is the official “royal patron” of the tennis club. Get this, up until 2003, players had to bow/curtsy to any of the Royals watching. Since then, however, players only have to bow/curtsy to Lizzie (yes we’re on a nickname basis with Queen Elizabeth) and Prince Charles (we’re not on a nickname basis yet with Charles).

  • Wimbledon is very much for the people: Anyone can purchase Wimbledon tickets through a lottery system before the tournament starts. There are also tickets held for same-day matches, meaning that you can line up just like you do at movie theatres. The tickets are also not that expensive. The average ticket price is apparently the equivalent of $100 CAD. And, surprisingly, Wimbledon isn’t too uppity or stuffy like other tennis tournaments — they encourage people to take pics, wear outrageous outfits, and drink reasonably priced beers. We like the sounds of that!

How’s it organized?

Like all tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is set up as a bracket: winner moves on, loser gets sent home. The bracket is initially organized based on a player’s seed. A seed is determined by a player’s world ranking. But, in Grand Slam tournaments, the organizers have some ability to change seeds based on a player’s recent performance. Generally, only 32 players are given a “seed” ranking in the tournament. For most tournaments, the top seeded players are “protected” meaning they square off against lower ranked players first.

Another thing to know is that in Grand Slam tournaments the women’s tournament is best of three sets, while the men’s is best of five meaning that you have to win two or three sets respectively to win the match. Why is it different for the women and men? The true reason can’t really be pinned down, but many guess that it’s routed in history and sexism. An unfortunate classic. 

But, what is important to note, is that thanks to tennis heroes like Billie Jean King and Serena and Venus Williams, in 2007 tennis became one of the only professional sports to award women equal prize money to the men for all four major tournaments. It was a long battle to achieve pay equity, but thank goodness it finally happened. Speaking of pay, the Wimbledon 2019 champions will be walking away with $3.985M CAD, a 4.44% increase from last year. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Who to watch

It’s gong to be one busy tournament as all of the best players in the world will be in attendance. Here are the key players to keep an eye on: 

Serena Williams, No. 11 seed: Not only does she hold the world record for most Grand Slam wins across singles and doubles play, Serena has won seven Wimbledon titles and was the runner-up in last year’s tournament. Although she hasn’t had the best start to the season (she exited the French Open in the Round of 32) Wimbledon is one of Serena’s favourite tournaments. FYI, Serena’s long-legged sister, Venus, is also incredibly dangerous. Talk about good genes.

Ashleigh Barty, No. 1 seed: This Australian has come in hot onto the scene over the last couple of years. After winning the French Open (her first Grand Slam title) in June, Barty is the the top seed in Wimbledon. Fun fact: Barty was a teenage tennis sensation, but she stopped playing tennis to try her hand at cricket for a while (and she was really good). Thank goodness she came back.

Angelique Kerber, No. 5 seed: Kerber is the reigning Wimbledon champion! This German is a force to be reckoned with and has a lot of experience winning Grand Slams. She’s won each grand slam except for the French Open since 2016.

Roger Federer, No 2 seed: R-Fed is number one in our hearts, but is the number two seed in the tournament. This Suisse father of two sets of identical twins is the GOAT in men’s tennis. He’s won eight Wimbledon titles and dominates the fast-pace of the grass court.

Rafael Nadal, No. 3: Outside of this Spaniard being a notorious wedgie-picker, he’s also a notorious winner. Most recently, he won his record-extending 12th French Open title. Domination station. Although he’s best known for owning clay courts thanks to his upbringing on the surface, he’s still a top contender to bring home the hardware at Wimbledon. 

Novak Djokovic (pronounced JOKE-O-VITCH), No. 1 : “The Joker” is the reigning Wimbledon champion and has been playing at the top of his game for over a year now. This Serbian prince has won an incredible 15 tennis majors, including four of them at Wimbledon.

O’ Canada

Of course, we have to highlight our top Canadian athletes, especially because Wimbledon starts on Canada day.

Bianca Andreescu, injured: Unfortunately, Andreescu is out due to a shoulder injury. Andreescu took the the tennis world by storm this year after winning the BNP Paribas Open, aka Indian Wells, in March. Indian Wells is largely considered the biggest tournament outside of the four Grand Slams.

Genie Bouchard, unseeded: That means Bouchard is our lone Canadian female singles player gal and is currently ranked 79 in the world (which is over 50 places better than she was at this time last year). Bouchard roared onto the tennis scene about four years ago as the first Canadian to ever reach a single finals in a Grand Slam tourney. Ironically, that final was Wimbledon. Although she’s cooled off since then, Bouchard loves Wimbledon and plays really well on grass so we wouldn’t be surprised to see her crack the top 32.

Denis Shapovalov, No. 29 seed: Aka El Shapo, soared onto the scene two years ago when he beat Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup. Since then, he’s gone “all the way up” the tennis ladder, representing the 29th seed at this tournament. This energetic kid is also only 20 years old. El Shapo has struggled as of late, so let’s hope Wimbledon is where he bounces back.

Milos Raonic (pronounced RAU-NITCH), No. 15 seed: Although Raonic is coming back from injury, he might be our best Canadian bet at winning a Grand Slam. Why? He has one of the strongest serves in tennis (again, power on grass courts is huge), has 11 years of pro experience and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world back in 2016. He’s also perfected his hair style.

Felix Auger-Alliassime, No. 19 seed: You may be less familiar with Auger-Alliassime as this 18-year-old has really bursted onto the senior’s ATP scene this year. Although he has yet to win a tournament this year, he’s made many appearance in the round of 16 and better. He recently edged out No. 7 seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (pronounced SEE-SEE-PASS) in Hurlingham.

That’s right. We have three Canadian men seeded in Wimbledon. It’s the first time ever at a Grand Slam we’ve had three Canadians playing. Exciting times!

Trivia

  • The signature dish at Wimbledon is strawberries and cream. This dish has been served since the inception of the tournament in 1877 and something tells us that in the middle of a hot summer, this “treat” ends up being downright gross. Maybe time for an upgrade, Wimbledon?

  • Like last year, the Royals that are expected to attend Wimbledon this year will have Kate Middleton and maybe new mom Meghan Markle! Middleton is a massive tennis fan and always tries her best to attend the tournament.

  • Being selected as a ball girl or boy (the kids who collect the balls on the court) is a huge deal for Wimbledon. They go through a v. intense selection process and then months of training. Learn more about the gruelling process here.

Where can I watch? 

TSN is your home for all things Wimbledon. *Pro tip* if you don’t have cable, be sure to ask your family/friends for their cable network password, and you can use that password to watch TSN Live from their website. 

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