Texas Tennis History

The story of tennis in Texas began sometime in the early 1880s as the upper and middle classes started playing the game. Since that time, tennis has become one of the most inclusive sports in existence, played by people of all ages, abilities and income levels.

 

The game of tennis can be traced back to the 11th or 12th century, when monks played a type of handball on their monastery walls or in their courtyards. By 1500, the use of wooden racquets replaced the use of the hand. A century later, the game had become so popular with nobility in Europe, it is said that just about every nobleman in England had a tennis court. A version of this game, court tennis, is still played.

 

In 1873, a man in England named Major Walter C. Wingfield designed a game similar to modern tennis called sphairistike, the Greek word for an ancient ball game. In 1874, he patented his game, packaging it in boxes, which contained racquets, net posts, balls and a booklet of rules. In his design, the court was shaped like an hourglass and was shorter than the modern court. The net was much higher on the sides. The court was laid on a lawn and was called lawn tennis. The name sphairistike fell out of use. By 1882, the court, net and rules had evolved almost entirely into their current form.

This new game quickly gained popularity around the world. People brought their box sets with them when travelling. This is how it made its way into the United States. Mary Outerbridge brought a box set with her to New York in early 1874 when she returned from Bermuda. She had seen the game played by British army officers who had been introduced to it by Major Wingfield. She convinced the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club to set up a court. The game soon caught on and spread across the country.

TennisTexas_edited.jpg

TENNIS COMES TO TEXAS

TTMHF155.jpg

HISTORY OF USTA TEXAS

TTMHF081.jpg

HISTORY OF USPTA TEXAS

IMG_3625_edited.jpg

HISTORY OF TTCA

irving-wtt.jpg

WORLD TEAM TENNIS IN TEXAS

RIVER OAKS TOURNAMENT

1972-wct-rosewall-laver.jpg

WCT IN TEXAS

We're Social

Ask questions, share your own photos and memories and meet other tennis enthusiasts. We’re your up-to-the-minute source for Texas Tennis History and we want you to join the conversation!

Visit Us

1108 South University Parks Drive

Waco, Texas 76706

Mon - Sat 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

info@texastennishistory.org
Tel: 254-756-1633

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

© 2020 Texas Tennis Museum and Hall of Fame

Ticket Information

Adults                                        $7
Seniors (60+)                            $6
Students 1st - 12th grade      $3
Kids under 6                             FREE  

USTA Members                        FREE

Active Military                          FREE