Sporting Vernacular 15. TENNIS TERMINOLOGY

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The Independent Online
AS THE world's best tennis players converge on the Stade Roland Garros for the French Open, it is fitting to observe that much of the sport's vocabulary reflects its Gallic origins.

The earliest uses of the word "tennis" itself included "tenetz", "teneys" and "tenes", which all point to the Old French tenir, to hold (hence "receive"), which was thought to be shouted by the server as a warning. Another French- rooted word is "racket", from raquette, which originally meant "palm of the hand".

The scoring system is based on the clock face, and Real Tennis courts in 16th and 17th century France marked off the quarters as 15, 30 and 45 (later simplified to 40). Terms with specifically French roots include "love", derived from l'oeuf (egg), which resembles a zero, and "deuce", a corruption of deux a gagner, or "two to win".

Chris Maume

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