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Evolution of Tennis: History of Tennis in Singapore

evolution tennis


Tennis is a popular sport all around the world with a number of people playing it and even a number of people watching it. It is one of the few sports that has experienced a vast amount of changes in the last decades.

Though the rules of tennis from the 1900s to the modern day are the same, the playing style has changed completely. In this article, we will cover up and reflect on all these changes by looking at the rich history of the game of tennis worldwide. Later on, we will also explore the evolution of modern tennis in Singapore.

So let's get started!

Why is Singapore is Known for Modern Tennis?

The fame and popularity of tennis in Singapore cannot be stated enough. People do not just play professional tennis for competition or as part of their fitness routine but also watch it for recreation.  With a rich culture and history of real tennis, this sport was introduced in Singapore by the Britishers.  

Tennis was introduced in this place dating back to the colonial Era by the British people. Since then, it has been loved by the people of Singapore due to several reasons. But before we have a look at these reasons, let's know about the history and evolution of lawn tennis worldwide.

History of Tennis: France

Though there is very scarce evidence that early tennis was initiated in Greece, Rome, and ancient Egypt, most historians agree that it was the French monks who started it in the 11th century. Tennis was then popular in the monasteries all across the country but was named 'jeu de paume', or ‘game of the hand’. The reason behind this name was that tennis was played as a form of handball against the walls at that time.

Different historical research has shown that Courtyard playing areas were adapted into indoor courts to play this sport. The present name ‘Tennis’  is said to be derived from the word ‘Tenez’ meaning ‘take this’. ‘Tennis’ or ‘take this’ is the phrase that players shout before they serve the ball hence, the name.

Forwarding time to some years later, the evolution of tennis was made from hands to racquet. This happened when players started using gloves to hold the racquet because bare hands were painful. But before it was upgraded to gloves, the top players used webbing sown between the fingers for this modern game.

Later on, webbing attached to a handle was used as an upgraded form of modern racket. Moreover, the tennis ball at that point in time was made of wool or hair and people even used cork wrapped in string as a ball because of the lack of rubber balls.

Playing Style of Real Tennis

During the early phase of the game, there were two major styles of playing or styles of grips used in tennis courts or tennis clubs. These two styles were named the American style or the Australian style. The American style had three grips namely the continental grip for serve and volley, the Eastern backhand grip for backhand, and the Eastern forehand grip for forehand. However, the Americans mainly preferred the continental grip for serve and volley.

On the other hand, the Australian style had a ‘one grip fits all’ approach. This grip was a continental grip that was used for serves and volleys and was also appropriate for backhands. This was the similarity between the Australian and the American styles.

Scoring in the Tennis Tournament

The origin of tennis scoring is still identified but is believed to have originated from France. The background behind the 60-point system of tennis scoring in major tournaments is said to be based on the number 60 which was supposed to have a positive connection in medieval numerology.

Later on, the 60-point system was segregated into 4 sections -15, 30, 45, and 60. The background behind this new scoring system was said to replicate the face of a clock because each score was given in quarter hours.

evolution of tennis racket

Evolution of Tennis and Tennis Courts

During the 1990s, players would play tennis on indoor carpets, fast grass courts, medium-paced hard courts, and even slow red clay courts. Moreover, the battle lines were also defined clearly on the court between the baseliners and the attackers. But generally in this area most of the people preferred attacking the net play.

However certain changes were made in this game to encourage the growth of the tournament. These changes resulted in the development of tennis to an international level where the first Davis Cup was organised in 1900. Later on, other events of tennis were also held namely Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open, and French Open.

Slowly and steadily, the game evolved, and due to these tournaments, certain rules and regulations were adopted. There was also a phase when the attire of the tennis players was changed slightly. This happened during the Victorian era when after being inspired by the cricket attire and the white dresses, it was decided that the tennis players must wear all white.

The decision of all-white was also made to help keep the players cool even during the hot weather. When this attire was adopted, it gave tennis an indication of an upper middle class and an upper-class sport.

Evolution of Tennis in Singapore

Fast forward to today. Tennis as a sport is very popular in Singapore because of multiple reasons. Let's have a look at them!

1. Hosting Famous Tennis Events and Tournaments

To date, Singapore has hosted a number of renowned tennis events over the years. Some of these events namely the Tour's Singapore Open was held from 1989 to 1992, 1996 to 1999, and in 2021, the International Premier Tennis League was held from 2014 to 2016 and the WTA Finals were held from 2014 to 2018.

These tournaments housed some of the most famous players of tennis from all around the world showcasing the rich culture and history of tennis to them. Due to the globally renowned players, a number of fans from Singapore and even outside have joined these tournaments as the audience. No doubt why hosting famous tennis events has led to the high level of tennis in the country and boosted its profile as a tennis destination.

2. Producing Talented Tennis Players

Tennis has evolved significantly in Singapore and this can be verified from the fact that this country has given birth to some talented tennis players. Many of the players from here have represented the country in National as well as International competitions of various kinds like swimming, table tennis, water polo, bowling, badminton, silat, and sepak takra.

Here are the names of some of the talented players from Singapore.  

  • The first Singaporean who got a chance to play at Wimbledon in 1985 was Angeline Devi Devanthiran.

  • The first Singaporean who won an Olympic gold medal in 2016 in swimming was Joseph Schooling.

  • The first Singaporean who won an ATP Tour Title in 1989 was Wong Shoon Keat.

  • The first Singaporean who played at all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2013 was Stefanie Tan.

3. Growth and Development of Tennis in the Country

The Singapore Tennis Association was formed with the major aim of fostering the growth and development of this famous sport in the country. This association is a governing body of tennis in Singapore that is responsible for promoting and developing the sport by organizing different tournaments, courses in the field, and even clinics. 

Singapore also has online and offline platforms that help newbies in the field to learn tennis. These platforms connect tennis players with top-rated and expert tennis coaches in Singapore. These coaches are renowned worldwide and have lot of experience in the industry due to which they can teach the students in the field and help them achieve their tennis goals. Besides the newbies, the expert tennis coaches can even teach the intermediate players to upskill their tennis game.

Another way to foster the growth and development of this sport in the country has been by way of developing a robust tennis structure. There are a number of Academies, tennis facilities, camps, programs, and coaches available for tennis players of different ages and expertise levels.

One such example is the Singapore sports hub which is a multi-sport entertainment venue that has a 3000-seater OCBC Arena. This arena majorly hosts indoor tennis events in Singapore.

evolution of tennis balls

4. A Vibrant Community of Tennis Enthusiasts

Tennis is nothing without a community of people who love it and are passionate about it. Singapore has a community of passionate tennis players, coaches, officials, fans, and also volunteers who share their love for this game.

Several online platforms help this vibrant community of tennis enthusiasts to find and connect with each other and play the sport together. Besides these online platforms and websites, as mentioned earlier. the country also hosts a number of tennis tournaments and events.

There are tennis meet-ups organised by different tennis groups and organizations that provide opportunities for tennis players to connect, up-skill their tennis skills and make new friends in the tennis community.


Thus, this is all you need to know about the evolution of tennis worldwide as well as in Singapore. The way this sport has evolved is really remarkable. From just a community of a few countries, this sport has won the hearts of numerous people worldwide including Singapore.

Singapore has become a hub for this sport because of the many tournaments held here as well as the passionate tennis players and fans available. 


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