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1922 – West Herts Sports Club founded by establishment of Trust and purchase of Freehold. Composition: Cricket, Hockey, Rugby Union, Tennis (6 grass court clubs; Watford, West Herts, Whitefriars, Holyrood, Marlborough and Cawdells).  

1960 - Tennis changes three grass courts to hard courts.

1962 – Ladies tennis team are Hertfordshire County Champions for the first time and are champions seven times between then and 1969.

1972 - Marlborough tennis club folds and the Watford and West Herts tennis clubs merge to become West Herts & Watford LTC.

1976 – Men’s tennis team are Hertfordshire County Champions for the first time. A feat repeated a further seven times between 1979 and 2003.

1986 – Sun Sports Tennis club members join ‘en bloc’ following the closure of their club.

1994 - Tennis section adds a fourth hard court to the three hard courts nearest the clubhouse.

2004 - New tennis clubhouse built.

2012 – Tennis replaces three hard courts nearest the clubhouse (Green) with a new surface, Tiger Turf.

2016 – The club’s grass courts receive glowing endorsement when used for the filming of The BBC’s Wimbledon Championships advert.

2017 – Tennis replaces a further three hard courts at the end of the site (Blue) with Tiger Turf and installs new floodlights on these courts.

Written by Lee Evans & John Malpas

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    10 Facts about the origins of Tennis terminology


    Tennis is a funny old game. People love you one minute and then want to drop you the next; someone is always waiting to shout out your faults; and no matter how nice you are somebody is always taking advantage of you.

    But listen carefully, as all is not necessarily what it seems on a tennis court. These and many other tennis terms have been used since the game evolved from the French game jeu de palme, the forerunner to tennis in the 18th Century. And although you may hear the occasional scream, shout or outburst on court, the origins of some of the tennis words today may be a little less heated than their usage today or maybe they won’t.

    So let’s have a look at our list of the top 10 tennis terms and find out how they came into the world of tennis explosively or quietly.

    ……Let’s start off with the word:

    1. Tennis
      We are happy to step onto court and hit a ball over the net with a racquet and play a game called tennis, but what does the word tennis actually mean? There have been several attempts to pinpoint the exact origins of the word tennis, but the closest one seems to derive from tenez the command form of the French verb Tenir, which means to hold. This is what players in 13th century France would shout out before hitting the ball to their opponent when playing the game jeu de palme. It literally meant are you ready to receive me or in other words, I am ready to serve! But if you tried that today on court, you’d probably get a warning from the umpire! So be careful.
    2. Stroke
      We stroke the ball in tennis and do it with the backhand or the forehand. It’s origin as David Studham, the Librarian at the Museum of Sport at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne agrees, comes from rowing and industry in the 18th century where the word was used to describe the action of a single pull of an oar on a boat or the movement of a piece of machinery. Pretty harmless then.

    3. Let

    Nerves can get to the most experienced of players. Imagine serving for the championship when that opening shot doesn’t quite go to plan? Fortunately, there’s a rule for that.

    In any game, a let is given when, on serve, a ball clips the net and bounces inside the service box and the player responsible is allowed to serve again. The rule isn’t that nice though. If that clipping mistake makes the ball land outside the service box, then it’s a fault.

    Its roots lie on an Old Saxon word lettian, which meant hindering something or someone’s progress, or an obstacle. In tennis terms, the obstacle is an interruption to the smooth flow of play.


    1. Love-and other scoring terms explained
      Sometimes there is anything but love on a tennis court especially in the heat of a battle, so why did this word come into the game of tennis? According to etymologists, the word love is possibly derived from the French word l’oeuf which literally means egg. If we look at the shape of an egg we can see it resembles zero and therefore came to be used when somebody has no score in tennis. Another possible theory again to do with the word egg is that when somebody has no score in sport people have said in the past that they have egg on their face. So next time when you are 40 love down remember it’s no yolk.

    Fifteen, 30 and 40

    In football, you score a goal, your team’s score goes up by one. Perfectly logical. In tennis, you score a point, it’s straight to 15. Score again, and it goes up to 30. That’s fine, we’re getting the hang of it now, it’s all about multiples of 15, so your next point should take you up to 45… Hang on? Where did 40 come from?

    It doesn’t make any sense. Until you look back in history.

    The 15, 30 and 40 scores most likely date back to the days of the French court in the 15th and 16th centuries. One theory is that clock faces were used to record the score on court. Each player began at 12, then was moved to quarter past (15) with the first point, then half past (30) with the second and quarter to (45) with the third. To win, a player had to be first to get the hand back to midnight.

    But why 45 and not 40? That’s down to deuce. To accommodate the two clear points a player must take each game by, it looked far neater to move things back by five minutes. Going from 30 to 40 instead of 45 meant that, in a deuce situation, the advantage could be recorded by moving the hand on the clock from 40 to 50, then another nicely symmetrical 10 minutes to midnight for the win. It was basically breaking the clock face down into manageable chunks.

    There is another theory rooted in French heritage. A hugely popular game at the time was jeu de paume, similar to tennis but using the hand instead of a racket.

    Scoring points on serve was useful as it enabled the serving player to move forward 15 feet, getting closer to their opponent and able to target shots with more accuracy. Another point meant moving an another 15 feet down the court. On a third point, they would only move forward 10, thus scoring at 15, 30 and 40.

    If you think that’s complicated, when tennis goes to a tie-break, the scores then go from one to seven, ignoring the clock face system altogether, with a player needing to get to seven first by two clear points. If nobody is two points ahead by the time the tie reaches the seven point stage, it continues until someone finally breaks the deadlock and goes two points clear.

    1. Deuce
      If you listen to the pronunciation ‘juice’ you could forgive yourself for thinking that this word means to be in a ‘tight squeeze’ at 40 points each. But alas the origins of this tennis word seem to be again from the French language where the term a deux de jeux means to be two points away from the game. Early etymological definitions around 1760 also state though that deuce could mean bad luck or the devil, which if you look at a tough professional tennis match today, could also ring true, with the loser of the game potentially losing a lot more than just their pride.



    1. Seed
      One of the main purposes of any tournament or competition, not just in tennis, is to make sure the best players do not face each other until later on in the competition. This is good for both spectators and the players themselves. According to many linguists this word stems from the word to sow and derives from the world of gardening where small seedlings are scattered at the front of a patch with the larger ones at the back so they do not bump into each other when they are growing.
    2. Ace
      To hit an unreturnable serve in tennis. The origin of the tennis meaning of this word dates back to around the 18th Century where an Ace in cards meant excellence. However the idea of producing a perfect shot that cannot be touched seems to stem from World War I terminology where fighter pilots who shot down 10 or more enemy planes were known as ‘aces of the air.’ So when tennis players today throw their ball into the air and lock on to their targets trying to ace their opponents, instead of doing it wielding a machine gun they do it with a tennis racquet. A much prettier sight!
    3. Volley
      This is yet another word which seems to stem from military vocabulary. According to the etymology dictionary, a volley in 1570 meant the firing of a number of guns at the same time. Taking the idea of ammunition flying through the air from both sides of the battle field, the notion of hitting a flying ‘ball of ammunition’ came into being on the tennis court in around 1819. So next time you stand at the net and get ready to blast your opponent’s ball away for a winner remember it is war.
    4. Lob
      This is a funny word. Literally, as its early meaning derives from the Old English word lobbes which meant clown. And there’s no funnier sight to see, than drawing your opponent into the net and lobbing the ball over their head seeing them scramble back after it. Just ask Mansour Bharami who is considered by many to be the ultimate clown of exhibition tennis who likes nothing more than lobbing the ball over famous players’ heads.


    1. Grand Slam
      And to the last of our top 10 tennis words. According to David Studham a tennis specialist at the Sport Museum in Melbourne this is one of the most incorrectly used tennis terms. When a tennis player wins a major tournament such as Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the US Open or Roland Garros then they are said to have won a Slam. Not a Grand Slam which is often used instead.

    So there you have it. Tennis is a melting pot of military, French and obscure terms, so if you do happen to experience or hear a fiery moment on court, then maybe the players themselves are not to blame. It might, just might be because of the origins of the words they use.