Saturday School: The largest growing racquet sport in the world

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In a time where mainstream tennis is becoming exceedingly competitive, at times it becomes a conundrum for emerging players to decide upon their future in the game of tennis. In the past 15 years, a new sport named touchtennis has climbed its way gradually to the global stage to come as a supporting angelic sport for the individuals having the potential to move their racquets like a magic wand.
Touch Tennis
TouchTennis official logo.                                        Image Source: Greatbase Tennis

The Visionary

Rashid Ahmad wanted to develop a new hobby by which he could entertain his little daughter. In 2002, he came up with the idea of playing a shorter version of tennis. Quite literally he converted all the letters of the word “TENNIS” to lowercase.

The Game

  • Played on a (12×6)m court with a 21 inch racquet, touchtennis uses a foam ball of 8 cm diameter. In some cases, a badminton court’s net can be lowered down and its service line can be extended 1 m to make it suitable for touchtennis. The net height varies from 80-95 cm.
  • The rules resemble the Fast Four format. The first to reach 4 sets with a difference of two wins the set. At deuce, a deciding point is played.
  • In case of the set score being 4-4, a tiebreak is played with the first to 5 points (difference of 2) winning the set. In doubles matches, in the third set a match tiebreak is played to 7 points.
  • No let rule is applicable in touchtennis as well.
  • The most noteworthy rule of this game is that a player can fling his racquet to hit a shot not within his reach. The surprise element is, that if the racquet it still not in the player’s hand, he/she can use his/her body parts to return the ball.

    Image result for touchtennis racquet abuse

  • There is only one fault allowed in tennis. So if you miss a serve, you lose the point.
  • “Grunting” can be used as a strategy to distract your opponents.
  • Foul language is strictly prohibited in touchtennis. If you use an obscene word, it results in an immediate point penalty. If it is audible on three occasions, then it results in immediate disqualification.

    Image result for touchtennis

  • Racquet abuse rules of touchtennis are such that the ATP and WTA World Tour organizers need to incorporate these in their regulations. In touchtennis, racquet abuse results in immediate disqualification. However, this rule applies only if the racquet is destroyed so badly that the player is unable to play with it. In case the player’s racquet has no or minimal damage, the player can continue using the racquet. For example, if a player has destroyed a single string of his racquet after an abuse, he/she must continue using that racquet. Apart from this, a £20 fine is enforced on every subsequent tour match the player is supposed to play in.
  • In doubles, if you win a toss, then apart from choosing to serve, the players can also choose which member of the opponent team should serve first.
  • In case a player wants to serve underarm, then he should first inform the opponent that he is about to serve underarm.

The broader aspect

Over 60 tournaments of touchtennis are played worldwide. The touchtennis World Tour has its own Masters tournaments, Grand Slams and maintains its own ranking points. If a player receives a Bye, he/she does not receive any prize money for that match unlike the ATP & WTA World Tour matches.
To play touchtennis, you need some dexterity in your hands to adapt to the shorter version of the game. The rallies are usually longer due to the shorter court size. Moreover, this is one sport which has recorded players which are 94 years old and also those who are less than 11 years old. However, the minimum age to participate in a tournament is 16.
Despite the sport’s reach over 10 major countries, the sport has not been included in Olympics or Paralympics. Notable players of touchtennis are Marcus Willis, Jeff Tarango and Christopher Eaton.
Since the clay season is here, see how touchtennis looks on clay!
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Hello tennis lovers, I am Balraj Shukla from Ahmedabad, India. My love for the sport is directed not only by viewing the current scenario but by tracing the steps back to the roots of the game we call Tennis. Upon reading my content I hope you further widen your perspective of the game by knowing things out of the box. Twitter and Facebook links mentioned will help you in contacting me for healthy discussions, questions, and analysis.

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