A word from the chairman
'Jeu de Paume' is played in Paris, Fontainebleau, Bordeaux as well as on the courts of south-west France. Worldwide, the game is played in England, Scotland, Australia and the United States. Two old courts are currently being restored (Pau, Chinon) and new courts are being built: 1 in Australia and 2 in the USA.
Come and discover this unique community, its clubs and this fantastic sport.
See you soon on our courts!
Tim Batten - Chairman of the French Real Tennis Committee
The game of Real Tennis
Like the game of tennis from which it originated, real tennis, also known as jeu de paume, requires great sporting qualities: strength, speed, finesse, precision and skill. The main characteristic of this sport lies in its rules, first defined in 1592, which place great emphasis on strategy and tactics. At each exchange, there are numerous options for challenging the opponent.
Although France has long dominated this sport, with legendary figures such as Antoine-Henry Masson in the 18th century, Jacques-Edmond Barre in the following century and Pierre Etchebaster in the first half of the 20th century, the best players of the moment are Anglo-Saxon. Known as "real tennis" in the UK and Australia, it is also played as 'Court tennis' in the USA.
Early development period
By the end of the 16th century, Paris had 250 halls, while cities such as Orléans, Rouen, Angers, Lyon and Bordeaux sometimes had dozens of halls, proving the public's enthusiasm for jeu de paume.
This French sport, which spread throughout Europe from the Renaissance onwards, has inevitably left its mark on our country's heritage, history and culture. We need hardly remind you, for example, that it was in the Versailles hall on June 20, 1789 that the deputies of the Third Estate swore an oath not to separate until a constitution had been drawn up for the country.
The French language has also retained a number of expressions directly derived from the game of paume, which are best expressed in French, but when translated become "to impress the gallery", "to remain on the square", "to fall on one's face" or "who goes hunting loses his place".
But the real tennis is also :
- the first sport to introduce the notion of fair play during the Renaissance period: respect for one's opponent, self-control, moderation in speech, knowledge of one's limits. It's the perfect exercise for balancing body and mind, as the humanists and later Enlightenment philosophers wrote!
- the first racquet sport in history, it was first used in the 16th century.
- the first sport to be played by professionals, the "maîtres paumiers". From the beginning of the 17th century, the best of them regularly gave demonstrations to the Court and to ambassadors visiting France, who then went on to recount their exploits throughout Europe.
-the first sport which, from the early 18th century onwards, organized regular international challenges in which French peaceniks met their English counterparts, the beginnings of modern tournaments.
Principles of the Game
Like lawn tennis, real tennis is played in singles or doubles and consists of passing the ball back and forth over the net with a racket. Only one ground bounce is permitted. On the other hand, there are no limits on bounces off walls or roofs, which are used as key surfaces to play the game.
The ball must touch the roof of the gallery at least once and fall into the service box.
The 'chase' system, used in many games in the Middle Ages, has endured in Real tennis, where it determines when players change sides. If the ball bounces twice on the ground without the player having touched it, the location of the second bounce is marked by lines called chasses. This pending point is put back into play after the side change, and the scoring area is reduced between the back wall and the chase.
A player wins a rally and scores fifteen when the ball hits the grid, falls into the last open (called the bell) or ends up in the inside gallery. If the ball falls on its second bounce after the line marked with a D (corresponding to the last open) on the front side, the serving player scores a point. If a player makes a fault or sends the ball back into the center net, he gives a point to his opponent. The system of counting points by fifteen (15, 30, 40, advantage, game, set) has existed since the Middle Ages and has been adopted by tennis.
RULES OF THE GAME (in French, for EN, consult T&RA or USCTA sites)
HISTORY OF THE GAME (in french only as of today).. EN sources to be added
Tournaments (list and descriptions)
Proposed in 1976 by Laredo Masip because the then-president of the French Real Tennis Association, René Diani, had forbidden professionals to play in the Raquette d’Or and the Raquette d’Argent. This tournament is open to all French players, professionals and amateurs
Gold Raquet (1e series)
Created in 1899, this competition is now reserved for amateur real tennis players with a handicap below 20 who have been members of a club in France for at least six months.
Silver Raquet (2e series)
Created in 1899 for players with a handicap between 20 and 30
Bronze Raquet (3e series)
Created around 1970 at the suggestion of Laredo Masip, for men and women players with a handicap between 30 and 40. The creation of this tournament led to a reorganisation of the handicap classes
Brass Raquet (4e series)
Created around 1970 at the suggestion of Laredo Masip, for players with a handicap above 40, mainly attracting those new to the game
Created in 1920, this handicap tournament is reserved for Lauriston club members only. It is the most important tournament open to members regardless of level or handicap
National Veterans Championship >50, >55, >60 and >70 years National Women’s Championship National Juniors Championship <18 years
Championnat de France féminin
Championnat de France juniors (< 18 ans)
This cup was created in 1910 and paused at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Restored in 2018, it is an invitational event played by the Club’s top 16 players.
Created in 1989, it is to be played at every Centenary of the French Revolution in perpetuity
Jacques Polton Cup
Around 1985, the Bordeaux club created the Trophée Édouard Kressmann in honour of the real tennis player and co-founder, with Claude Quancard, of the Jeu de Paume de Bordeaux. The cup, played in singles and doubles, is reserved for players over 50.
In 2001, the Paris club took up the idea and created the Jacques Polton Cup, a handicap tournament open to players over 50. Jacques Polton, a businessman with a passion for real tennis, was still playing well into his 80s. He gifted the tournament a silver plate inscribed with the names of the initial winners
This event is organised by the head professional for new players who have been playing real tennis for less than 12 months
Created by Charles-Antoyne Hurstel in 2017, this cup was first called the Antoine-Henry Masson in memory of the best player in the kingdom of France in the 18th century. He is also remembered for his role in ‘The Big Match’ in 1767 against the Englishman Tomkins who lost in 5 sets. It is an International Open for 1st series players, primarily involving players from the UK and Francee century. It was known as "The Big Match" in 1767 against the Englishman Tomkins, who was beaten in 5 sets. This tournament is open to players in France and England with a handicap of between 10 and 20.
Played for the first time in 1740 in Fontainebleau, the World Championship was won by the renowned maîtrepaumier Pierre Etchebaster from 1928 to 1952. Both men’s and women’s championships are held every two years, in one of four countries in rotation: Australia, England, France and the United States. The Men’s world champion is decided by an elimination match pitting an able challenger against the reigning world champion. The reigning champion and the challenger play a match of up to 13 sets over 3 days (4 sets, 4 sets and up to 5 sets if necessary on the last day). The winner is the first to win 7 sets
International French Open
This Pro-Am tournament has hosted the world’s best men and women players since 1992. There is also a tournament for juniors
Womens Handicap Open
This annual international tournament was created in Paris in 1992. It rotates between the three French clubs (Bordeaux, Fontainebleau, Paris) and brings together some twenty players from Australia, England, France, the Netherlands and the United States.
Created in 1922 by Lady Lilias Bathurst, owner of the Morning Post, this tournament is to the game of real tennis what the Davis Cup is to lawn tennis. Originally played every year, the cup has been played every two years since 1992 between Australia, England, France and the United States. The tournament is reserved for amateurs who play by nation (one nation one team). Morning Post, this tournament is to real tennis what the Davis Cup is to lawn tennis. Formerly played every year, since 1946 this cup has been played every two years between England, Australia, the United States and France. The tournament is reserved for amateurs and is organised by national team.
Created in 1922 by Spencer Eddy, the first president of the Lauriston club, as a tribute to Jay Gould, one of the best players of the time. It is exclusively a doubles competition
Tournois de Noël
Dedanist Foundation vs. French Clubs
This English foundation founded in 2002 offers scholarships to young real tennis players aged 13 to 25 from disadvantaged backgrounds
France vs UK
Initiated by Ivan Semenoff, this new singles and doubles tournament, reserved for French and English players over 50, is held every two years, alternating between France and England
Taylor M. E. Baldwin Charity Cup
In 2015, the Taylor M. E. Baldwin Charity Cup was created to raise funds for the Fondation Saint-Jean-de-Dieu which cares for disabled children, including the son of a club member. All games are held in doubles format and played in a friendly atmosphere. The tournament is greatly appreciated by all players, regardless of level.
Trophée Edouard Kressmann
Played in honour of Édouard Kressmann, father of Gil Kressmann. The cup is played in singles and doubles and is reserved for players over the age of 50.