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Last Updated: Saturday June 21 2008 10:03 GMT

Gavin tries out Real Tennis

Gavin tries out Real Tennis
Gavin tries out Real Tennis

Well, when I found out I'd be playing 'real' tennis, I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me!

Surely that's what they play at Wimbledon I thought … or is that fake tennis?!

Real tennis was played by royalty in the days of Henry VIII!

The court is is based on an old courtyard - it's indoor, and still has the familiar net in the middle (although it sags in the middle), and the basic rules are that you hit the ball over to the other side like you would in lawn tennis….but there's a load of other weird things to think about!

Automatic points

For a start, there's something called the penthouse - a wooden slope running around the walls that you serve onto.

The ball rolls down slowly off this, then the player can hit it back to the other side.

Gavin tries out weight lifting
Then there are areas where you can score automatic points - one part is at the side of the court, it's a net with bells on! And if you hit the scoreboard you get a point too!

Confused yet? Yep, so was I when I was being taught.

You need to be super-fit to play this game, as they don't use normal tennis balls.

They're rock hard, so hardly bounce at all - meaning you have to get closer to it to get your shot in!

And because it's played indoor, the game doesn't stop unless you hit the net. So it's totally exhausting!

Racquet hands

Oh, and another thing which you'll find strange - the rackets! They're similar size to squash rackets, but the head (where the strings are) is much smaller (about the size of my outstretched hand), and the handle is slightly bent!

Gavin tries out Real Tennis
Gavin tries out Real Tennis
I've been told that this is because when it was played centuries ago, people used their hands for rackets! So today's design is based on their forearms and palms! That made me chuckle….!

It's still played competitively now, and top stars like Roger Federer are known to be pretty good at it - but he's good at everything isn't he!

I really enjoyed trying this sport out, and because I'd played lawn tennis before I got the hang of this pretty quickly!

If you want to see what it's like, take a look at me having a go by watching this week's Sportsround back on the Newsround player. You'll enjoy it!


Why don't you get in touch with Sportsround and let us know what music gets you in the mood to compete in your sport.