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What is soft tennis?

November 30, 2006 18:56 IST

Soft tennis fans can watch seven days of action as the sport's best players compete on the Asian Games' Khalifa courts in Doha from December 2 to 8.

Factbox on the sport:

WHAT IS SOFT TENNIS?

- Popular all over Asia, soft tennis is played with a softer rubber ball and a lighter racket than are used in the regular game.

- Played on a regular, rectangular tennis court divided by a net, it is said to allow for longer rallies as the racket and ball make it harder for players to dominate with single powerful strokes.

HISTORY

- Soft tennis was invented in Japan, after the regular game was introduced to the country at the end of the 19th century. More than five million Japanese now play soft tennis. - Thought of as tennis modified for the smaller Asian physique, the game has been dominated by Korean and Japanese players. It is seen as more unisex than the regular game and mixed doubles have become popular.

- Soft tennis became an official Asian Games sport at the 1994 games in Hiroshima, Japan.

- South Korea made a clean sweep of the medals at the 14th Asian Games in Busan in 2002.

- An International Soft Tennis Federation was established in 1973. The first world championships followed in 1975 and they are now held every four years, with players from almost 40 countries taking part.

RULES AND SCORING

- Most of the rules are the same as for regular tennis. Play starts with a serve, which can be underarm or overhead, and typical shots include forehand and backhand ground strokes, the overhead smash and the volley.

- The first player or pair to reach four points wins, with a deuce-style decider when players are tied on three points each, although the terminology is simplified. Unlike regular tennis, serve changes after two points in each game.

- Soft tennis can be played indoors or outdoors. The winner is the first to seven games in singles or nine games in doubles. A tie-break decides the winner if opponents are at three all or four all.

Source: www.doha-2006.com