The majority of people in Canada and the United States have played a racquet sport of one type or another in their lives, whether badminton, tennis, squash, or one of the other types of racquet sports played around the world. The sport racquet is an extension of the human arm, a human invention that allows the human form to rise above its limitations and elevate human athletic ability to another level. The sport racquet also extends the reach of the human body and adds a sense of power and control to human sports you can’t experience without feeling a racquet in your hand. Step onto the court with your racquet in hand and you become a warrior stepping onto the battlefields of old to fight for life and liberty.
The first recorded history of humans inventing and playing racquet sports was in the eighteenth century prisons of London, where prisoners starting playing a faster form of the popular game of fives using tennis racquets. The use of racquets spread onto the street corners and school yards of England from there and developed into the many forms of racquet sports we play and love to watch today during the years since this time.
The royalty of England and possibly other parts of the world certainly would have had the time and money needed to invent different types of recreational racquet sports. Indeed the first indoor racquet hall known to have been constructed is in Eglinton Castle, located in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Estate records indicate this racquet hall was built around 1839 and the first recorded match was played on this court around 1846.
The game that was likely first played on this court was the English game of rackets, or hard rackets as many players will refer to this game in order to distinguish it from the game of squash. Rackets, or racquets if you’re American, is a athletic game played on a 30 x 60 foot indoor court, with a ceiling at least 30 feet high. The walls and floor of the court are constructed of smooth stone or concrete and are usually a dark color in contrast to the hard white 1.5 inch ball used in the game. The wooden racket players used in the first days of rackets was 30.5 inches in length and this continues to be the standard length of amateur and professional rackets today.
This game of rackets has evolved and been adapted by humans and today has developed into new forms of modern rackets that would amaze the original developers of the first human recorded racquet sport. Today racquet sports like tennis, badminton, racquet ball, and squash are played by millions of amateur and thousands of professional players around the world. The first simple wooden racquets have in turn evolved into modern space age versions composed of composite materials that are both stronger and lighter than the first wooden racquets.