It’s Wimbledon tennis season again, and casual and dedicated fans alike are getting into the action. Wimbledon is the oldest tournament in tennis, as well as the most prestigious. It is held at the All England Club located in Wimbledon, where it has been held since 1877. One of four Grand Slam tournaments, it is the only one that is still played on grass, the game’s original surface. The tournament occurs in late June and early July over the course of two weeks.
The new game of lawn tennis, originally called Sphairistike, was added to the activities of the All England Croquet Club in 1875. The club has undergone a few name changes, but it is now the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, better known as the All England Club, the host of the annual Wimbledon Championship. The Wimbledon tournament has many long-standing traditions, including drinking Pimms sprizters, eating strawberries and cream, a strict dress code for the players, and royal patronage of the event.
Past winners and finalists at Wimbledon include some of the top names in tennis history, including:
Favourites for this year’s tournament include:
- Roger Federer: The reigning Gentlemen’s Singles champion, as well as the winner in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, Federer is one of the dominant forces in men’s tennis. However, many fans feel he is stumbling lately, opening the door for Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal.
- For the Ladies Singles, Serena Williams is widely considered the favourite to defend her 2009 title. Other favourites include her sister, Venus Williams, and Maria Sharapova.
Leading Tennis Brands
There are many top brands associated with tennis, both for manufacturing equipment and clothing and for sponsoring events. Some of the most popular brands include:
- HEAD: HEAD NV is a leading international manufacturer of premium sports equipment. Located in Vienna, HEAD is endorsed by Andy Roddick.
- Babolat: Founded in France in 1875, Babolat is the oldest company specialising in racket sports, and they invented racket strings.
- Dunlop has been involved in sports since they began making tennis shoes in 1924, and their shoes have been endorsed and worn by Wimbledon winners.
- Prince Manufacturing was born when the founder invented the “Little Prince,” the first ball machine designed for home use. They have continued to be innovators, from new racket designs to clothing and tennis bags.
- Adidas: Long known for their innovative footwear for a variety of sports, Adidas was formed in 1949. The corporate group now includes Adidas, Reebok, Reebok, and TaylorMade.
- Wilson: Wilson has been a leader in sports equipment for nearly a century. In tennis, their rackets are used by tennis greats Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
- Nike: One of the younger companies in the sporting goods industry, Nike has become one of the dominant leaders in the field. Their subsidiaries include Cole Haan, Converse, Hurley International, and Umbro Ltd.
- ASICS: Founded in 1949, ASICS began as a basketball shoe manufacturer, and has since expanded to produce high-quality footwear for a variety of sports, including tennis.
- K-Swiss: K-Swiss has long represented quality, innovation, style, and performance. Their K-Swiss Classic, the first leather tennis shoe in the market, debuted at the 1966 Wimbledon. Their shoes continue to support the demands of world-class athletes.
- Ellesse: Known for their stylish sportswear, Ellesse is an Italian company that introduced pleating and fine tailoring to tennis. Worn by legends such as Chris Evert and Boris Becker, they continue to stand for style in the modern era.
- Yonex: Founded in 1946, Yonex began making badminton racquets in 1957 and tennis racquets in 1957. They have been a leader in using new materials, such as aluminum and carbon.
- Slazenger: One of the leading sports companies in the world, Slazenger was founded in 1881. Their products have been used by tennis greats like Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Conners, and Tim Henman.
Tennis Craze - buying the right tennis equipment
Every year, the Wimbledon season renews the country’s, and the world’s, interest in tennis. Many people start playing tennis this time of year, caught up in the excitement surrounding the tournament. If you are just starting to play tennis, there are many questions such as the equipment, costs, where you can play, and how to get started. You should also consider the costs versus benefits of leisure versus professional gear, as well as how to buy the right racket.
- Leisure Rackets: First, consider the age and skill level of the player. For a child, you should consider a kids tennis racket, although most players who weigh at least 38 kg should use an adult racket. There are also womens tennis rackets. If you are buying for a beginning, especially if you are unsure how long the interest will last, you may wish to start with a cheap tennis racket, upgrading later as skills increase.
Popular brands include:
Many of the top players have designed or endorsed their own line of rackets, such as:
It is also important to consider the materials for your tennis racket. A beginner may be happy with an aluminum racket, but it is too flexible for players who hit hard. If you anticipate the skills advancing quickly, you might want to skip the aluminum level and start with a graphite tennis racket, perfect for mid-range players. Another alternative is a titanium tennis racket. Titanium provides a high stiffness to weight ratio, giving good strength. It is often mixed with graphite.
The tennis racket strings will also affect your performance. Kevlar strings are the most durable, which gut or synthetic strings will give you the most power. The strings should be rated on the package for key components such as strength and resiliency.
Regardless of skill level, every player needs a supply of tennis balls. All majour brands of pressurized balls will play well when they are new. There are subtle differences in feel between brands, and some offer a better durability for either fuzz or bounce.
Pressureless tennis balls are considered the most durable. They can retain their bounce indefinitely, but eventually, the fuzz wears away. Also, some players don’t like the feel of the pressureless balls.
If you are buying balls for a tennis ball machine, pressureless balls may be your best option. Balls have to wait a long time in the machine for one hit, so they can lose their bounce just over time, not from overuse. You will want to avoid oversized balls or heavily worn balls. For a machine, it may make sense to buy bucket tennis balls in a quantity of 48 balls, rather than buying numerous cans with 3 balls.
Some popular brands for tennis balls include:
The most popular colour for tennis balls is a greenish-yellow, known as Optic Yellow. This is considered one of the most visible colours to the human eye; however, you can also buy tennis balls in blue, black, or orange.
Tennis Racket Grips: A good tennis racket grip provides a number of benefits. The grip on rackets generally ranges from about 10.15 cm to 12.38 cm. Even this small range can make a big impact on your game. Using too large a grip can result in hand strain, while too small a grip can cause injuries to your hand, wrist, or elbow. By adding a racket grip, you can customize a racket that has a smaller grip to perfectly fit your hand. You can even buy coloured grips to fit your personality, such as a pink grip.
Racket grips are available from many popular manufacturers, including:
Tennis Racket Strings: Replacing strings on your tennis racket, whether to replace old strings or enhance your performance, is a simple, effective way to change your game. In general, if you string the racket at the lower end of the recommended range, your ball will fly farther with the same stroke. Thinner gauge strings provide more resiliency, while thicker strings will last longer. Most beginner rackets use thick 15-gauge strings, while serious players may prefer 16-gauge strings if they don’t like to restring often. Strong players who don’t mind frequent restringing often prefer 17 or 18 gauge strings.
Popular tennis string brands include:
Whether you are a serious, competitive player or a beginner, you want the right clothing for playing tennis. However, the right choice for you depends on a number of factors, including how much you play, your fashion preferences, and your budget. Your decision may also be influenced your favourite players, as many players have their own line of tennis clothes.
- Tennis Shirts: When it comes to shirts, two of the most popular options are polo shirts and tank tops. Unlike a standard polo shirt, a tennis polo shirt may be made of a more breathable fabric such as a high-performance moisture-wicking material. This will keep you cool and dry during athletic activity. The cut on the shirt, whether a mens or womens design, may also be designed to allow more arm movement freedom. Popular colours include black, blue, or the Wimbledon-required white.
If you prefer a tank top design, a women’s shirt may include built-in bra support, and both men’s and women’s designs should include a sports-friendly material. Both Nike and Adidas make good tennis tank tops, as do most majour tennis brands. Tennis tank tops are available in all popular colours and patterns, including white.
- Tennis Shorts: For men, the obvious clothing choice would be shorts, while women may choose shorts, skirts, or dresses. Mens tennis shorts may range from mid-thigh to upper-thigh lengths, and they may be either tight or loose. Mesh inserts may increase ventilation, while an elastic waistband will provide secure fit and comfort. Womens tennis shorts are also found in a variety of lengths and fits, but the most typical cut is generally short and snug.
For both men and women, polyester or synthetic shorts are generally the preferred choice. Cotton tennis shorts may be breathable, but they do not provide the level of moisture-wicking found with synthetic fabrics such as Elastance. Cotton shorts will get damp and stick to your skin when you sweat. A combination of cotton and synthetic materials will provide a good balance of breathability and wicking.
Good brands of tennis shorts include:
Casall, Nadal, Adidas, Fred Perry, Fila, Nike, ASICS, and HEAD.
As with shirts, tennis shorts come in a range of colours, such as white, blue, black, or red tennis shorts.
- Tennis Dress: Women may prefer the look or feel of a tennis dress. Modern tennis dresses, even those that meet the strict Wimbledon dress code, can be both functional and fashionable, as demonstrated by the white tennis dress worn by Venus Williams in this year’s tournament. Her athletic dress featured crisscross straps, a low-cut lace bodice, and a short dress covered with fringe.
For those who prefer more traditional tennis designs, you can find attractive, functional styles from Adidas, Nike, and Casall. A Serena tennis dress creates a more athletic style than her sister Venus, while remaining stylish and feminine. If you are not restricted to all-white attire, you can choose a more fun colour such as a purple tennis dress.
- Tennis Skirts: Women can also choose a tennis skirt, which gives you the flexibility to pair your favourite skirt style with your favourite shirt style. You can mix and match colours, such as a purple tennis skirt or blue tennis skirt. Other popular colours include black, red, and white.
A tennis skirt also gives you the freedom to change shirt styles depending on the season. As with shorts, an entirely cotton tennis skirt will be breathable but may retain moisture when you sweat. A better alternative is a mix of cotton and synthetic fibres, which can also provide a good stretch tennis skirt. Popular brands include Adidas, Reebok, Nike, and Fila.
- Tennis Shoes: Choosing the right shoes is one of the most important decisions when buying your tennis equipment. While many styles of shoes, such as running shoes and deck shoes, are commonly called ‘tennis shoes,’ they are not appropriate for serious tennis playing. While you might play a leisurely garden game in your running shoes, if you’re playing on a court, you’re asking for an ankle injury. Running shoes have a thick heel designed for straight-forward impacts. Running shoes are simply not designed for the quick, sideways cuts necessary for tennis. Deck shoes are safer, but they are not designed to cushion impacts, so your joints will get tired and sore more quickly.
When shopping for tennis shoes, you need to consider the material for the upper. Canvas breathes the best and stays coolest. Leather provides more support and stays drier in wet conditions. Vinyl provides good support and resists the most moisture, but it doesn’t breathe well and tends to be hot. You rarely need to consider durability for the upper materials, because the soles generally wear out first.
There are a number of excellent tennis shoe brands, and finding the best one is a matter of your personal fit, playing style, and budget. The traditional colour for tennis shoes is white, but you can find a wide range of colours to express your personality. Some of the top brands include: