Rackets (sport)

Rackets (sport)

Rackets (British English) or Racquets (American English) is an indoor racquet sport played in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada. The sport is infrequently called "hard rackets," possibly to distinguish it from the related sport of squash (formerly called "squash rackets").

Manner of play

Rackets is played in a 30 by 60 foot (9.14 × 18.28 m) enclosed court, with a ceiling at least 30 feet (9.14 m) high. Singles and doubles are played on the same court. The walls and floor of the court are made of smooth stone or concrete and are generally dark in color to contrast with the white ball. The players use 30½ inch (775 mm) wooden rackets to hit a 38mm (1.5 inch) hard white ball weighing 28 grams. A good stroke must touch the front wall above an 26 1/2-inch-high wooden (often cloth-covered) board before touching the floor. The ball may touch the side walls before reaching the front wall. The player returning a good stroke may play the ball on the volley, or after one bounce on the floor. The play is extremely fast, and potentially quite dangerous. Lets are common, as the striker must not play the ball if doing so risks hitting another player with it. Matches preferably are observed by a "marker," who has the duty to call "Play" after each good stroke to denote that the ball is "up." Games are to 15 points, unless the game is tied at 13-all or 14-all, in which case the game can be "set" to 16 or 18 (in the case of 13-all) or 17 (in the case of 14-all) at the option of the player first reaching 13 or 14; only the server can score — the receiver gains the right to serve by winning a rally. Return of service can be extremely difficult, and, in North America, only one serve is allowed. Matches are typically best of 5 games.Because the game of squash rackets (now known as 'squash') began in the 19th century as an off-shoot of rackets, the sports were similar in manner of play and rules. However, the rules and scoring in squash have evolved in the last hundred years or so. Rackets has changed little; the main difference today is that players are now allowed brief rest periods between games. In the past, leaving the court could mean forfeiting the match, so players kept spare rackets, shirts, and shoes in the gutter below the telltale on the front wall.

The governing bodies are the Tennis and Rackets Association (UK) and the North American Rackets Association.


Rackets began as an 18th century pastime in London's King's Bench and Fleet debtors prisons. The prisoners modified the game of fives by using tennis rackets to speed up the action. They played against the prison wall, sometimes at a corner to add a sidewall to the game. Rackets then became popular outside the prison, played in alleys behind pubs. It spread to schools, first using school walls, and later with proper four-wall courts being specially constructed for the game. Some historians assert that the game was codified through its popularity at the Harrow School in London, where it was played as early as the second half of the 18th century.

Some private clubs also built courts. Along with real tennis and badminton, rackets was used as an inspiration for the game of lawn tennis, invented in 1873. A vacant rackets court built into the University of Chicago's Stagg Field served as the location of the first artificial nuclear chain reaction on December 2, 1942. The Stagg Field court is often mistakenly identified as having been a "squash rackets" court.Rackets was part of the 1908 Summer Olympics program.

Court locations

As happens with sports, interests shift. Today it is perhaps the most obscure and least approachable of racket sports. Court upkeep, handmade balls, and breakable wooden rackets make it an expensive game. It also requires lessons and practice to play safely and enjoyably. On the other hand, many who take up the sport do so enthusiastically.

See Carlow Sports and Social Club

United Kingdom

There are about twenty courts in some of the major public schools and private clubs in the United Kingdom.


*Charterhouse School
*Cheltenham College
*Clifton College - recently refurbished for the world championships
*Eton College
*Haileybury College
*Harrow School
*Malvern College
*Marlborough College
*Radley College
*Rugby School
*St Paul's School (London) [http://www.stpaulsschool.org.uk/page.aspx?id=8391]
*Tonbridge School
*Wellington College
*Winchester College


*BRNCC Dartmouth
*Hayling Island
*Manchester Tennis & Racket Club
*Queens Club, London
*RMA Sandhurst

North America

There are eight active courts in North America, all at private clubs:
*Chicago:Chicago has 2 courts. Opened in 1924, with a Court Tennis and two double squash courts
*Detroit:Opened in 1902, designed by the noted architect Albert Kahn. Constructed by Joseph Bickley. Originally open to the air with natural lighting until it was glazed over with lights added in 1912
*New York:Opened in 1918 on Park Avenue, the building designed by Mckim, Mead and White. The building originally housed two courts, although one was converted to a double squash court in 1956
*Tuxedo Park:Opened in 1902
*Philadelphia:Opened in 1907 with two courts, one of which now has been converted to a double squash court
*Boston:Opened in 1902, with two courts, one of which has now been converted to a double squash court
*Montreal:Opened in 1889, the court was constructed four feet longer and two feet wider to facilitate doubles play. It was resized to regulation 60 x 40 feet in 1909

There may be unused courts elsewhere in the former British Empire that are still in good condition. Rackets is overwhelmingly a male sport.


The world championship for singles (and doubles) is decided in a challenge format. If the governing bodies accept the challenger's qualifications, he plays the reigning champion in a best of 14 games format (best of 7 games on each side of the Atlantic). If each player wins seven games, the total point score is used as a tie breaker. The current singles champion is Harry Foster. The current doubles champions are Neil Smith and Mark Hubbard, who won the first doubles challenge following the retirement of Alister Robinson and Guy Barker.

World Championship

Organized on a challenge basis, the first champion in 1820 was Robert Mackay (Great Britain).

Recent winners

*2005– Harry Foster (Great Britain)
*2001–5 James Male (Great Britain)
*1999–2001 Neil Smith (USA)
*1988–99 James Male (Great Britain)
*1986–8 John Prenn (Great Britain)
*1984–6 William Boone (Great Britain)
*1981–4 John Prenn (Great Britain)
*1975–81 William Surtees (USA)
*1973–4 Howard Angus (Great Britain)
*1972–3 William Surtees (USA)
*1954–72 Geoffrey Atkins (Great Britain)
*1947–54 James Dear (Great Britain)
*1937–47 Donald Milford (Great Britain)
*1929–35 Charles Williams (Great Britain)
*1913–29 Jock Soutar (USA)
*1911–13 Charles Williams (Great Britain)
*1903–11 J. Jamsetji (India)
*1887–1902 Peter Latham (Great Britain)


* Squires, Dick. "The Other Racket Sports" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978. ISBN 0-07-060532-7
* Lord Aberdare. "The JT Faber Book of Tennis and Rackets", London: Quiller Press, 2001. ISBN 1 899163 62 X

External links

* [http://www.tennisandrackets.com// Tennis and Rackets Association]
* [http://www.rackets.co.uk/ The Home of Rackets on the Web]
* [http://www.northamericanrackets.com/ North American Racquets Association]
* [http://www.drc1902.com/ Detroit Racquet Club]
* [http://www.tandr.org/ Tennis and Racquet Club, Boston]
* [http://www.rcop.com/ Racquet Club of Philadelphia]
* [http://www.thetuxedoclub.org/ The Tuxedo Club]
* [http://www.mrcrackets.com/ Montreal Racket Club]


* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h014gIVli0s Rackets on YouTube]

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