The History of the Tennis Racket

History of the Tennis Racket

The consensus is that the game of tennis was originally played by French monks during the 11th or 12 century.  The first tennis games were played not using rackets, but hands, very similar to handball today.  The monks would use their hands to hit a ball against a wall and then later across a net.  After a while gloves were used instead of bare hands.  Later some players tried gloves with webbing between the fingers and others began playing with a wooden paddle.

The First Wooden Racket

The first racket made from a wooden frame with strings arrived during the 14th century and this invention has been thought to have been made by the Italians.  By 1500 the use of these rackets was widespread. These earlier rackets had a long handle with a small teardrop sized head.  At this time tennis was very similar to squash and was played indoors with a squash type ball but a net was used and not a wall.

Modern tennis as we know it today was first patented in 1874 by Major Walter Wingfield.  He was registering a patent not only for the tennis equipment to be used but also the rules for lawn tennis played outdoors.  During the 100 years from 1874 improvements came in the form of laminating technology and better strings, but the rackets were still quite heavy and the heads still small.  These rackets when compared to the rackets of today were quite heavy and not easy to play with.

Metal Rackets

1889 Saw the first metal head rackets, but were not widely used.  Wood was still the most popular, but no real changes were made to it until 1967.  It was Wilson Sporting Goods who introduced the metal racket known as the T2000.  This racket was lighter and became a popular item with the famous Jimmy Connors making it his racket of choice.  The T2000 had a long handle with a small head made with a steel frame.  The very first oversized racket was introduced by Howard Head, from Prince in 1976, called the Prince Classic. There was some controversy at the time between Prince and Weed USA, who said they had been the first to bring out the oversized racket, but Weed USA’s racket never became as popular.  Both the rackets had aluminium frames and the stringed area covered more of the racket than the normal 65 square inch rackets.

Graphite Rackets

These new rackets were lighter and had more power, which made it easy for even beginners to play with much more ease. Much like AFL Premiership betting online, they had evolved over time for the better.

For more advanced players a stiffer frame is best and a combination of carbon fibres and plastic resin has proved to be the most durable.  This combination became known as graphite.  By 1980 there were two types of rackets, the cheaper aluminium ones and more expensive ones made from graphite or a combination.  Wood was no longer used.

Graphite is the main component in rackets today and has been combined with other materials to constantly try to improve rackets to make them easier to use and more durable.

The tennis racket has evolved since its humble beginnings in the 11th century.