Over time there have been subtle rule changes to the game of tennis and there have been drastic racket technology changes. Some historians claim that the early versions of the game used nets with a height of 5 to 7 feet. The current net height of 3 1/2 feet at the posts and 3 feet at the center of the court has been in place now since the late 1800s.
The tennis court is 78 feet in length with a meshed net stretched across the middle dividing the court in half. The mesh is small enough so that a ball cannot go through it. The net is suspended on a cord or cable with the ends attached as close as possible to two net posts at each side. The net posts are 3 1/2 feet in height. The height of the net at the sides is 6 inches higher than at the center. A center strap is looped up and over the net and attached to the court at the bottom to hold the net down and in place.
A court designed for singles matches only is 27 feet wide. There are no doubles alley lines marked on the court and the net is narrower. The two net posts are positioned 3 feet out from the singles sidelines and the net is securely attached to the posts. The net is 3 1/2 feet high at the net posts and is strapped down at 3 feet at the center of the court.
A doubles court including the alleys is 36 feet wide. A wider net is used and is securely attached to two net posts positioned 3 feet outside the doubles court sidelines. As on a singles court, the net is 3 1/2 feet high at the net posts and is strapped down at 3 feet at the center of the court.
When playing singles on a court designed for both singles and doubles, the height of the net in the center is 3 feet. In order to maintain the required 6-inch difference between the net's center and the outside edges, temporary sticks are used to prop up the net. These sticks are called "singles sticks" and are placed 3 feet out to the side of the singles court sidelines. This ensures that the height of the net at the ends will be 6 inches higher than at the center.
- Photo Credit tennis net image by David Ng from Fotolia.com
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