Advantage: Queens

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One of the things I miss about living in NYC is the ability to take the 7 train out to sporting events in Queens. No car, no traffic, no parking woes getting in and out. You could go watch your favorite team hit a grand slam homerun over at Shea Stadium (or chez stadium, as the pun goes), or, this time of year, catch part of a different type of grand slam, The U.S. Open.

To make up for the inability to take the 7 train out to Flushing, I've been watching a lot of baseball and tennis lately, especially the U.S. Open with all this Agassi excitement.

Modern tennis has its roots in a 16th century French game called Jeu de Paume, or, the "Game of the Palm." Eventually rackets were added and the sport moved onto the grass where, in the 19th century, it became "Lawn Tennis" in England.

Though Wimbledon's courts are still a sort of lawn (rye grass, actually), the other Grand Slam venues are not. The U.S. Open and Australian Open are played on an asphalt-type surfaces, while the French Open is played on clay. And while clay is slippery and makes the courts un petite peu dangerous, kudos are still in order to the French for serving up all those interesting terms like "love" and "deuce." After the jump, I'll let Wiki explain their origins, and many more.

"Tennis" comes from the French tenez, the imperative form of the verb tenir, to hold: This was a cry used by the player serving in royal tennis, meaning "I am about to serve!" (rather like the cry "Fore!" in golf).

"Racquet" comes from raquette, which derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand.

"Deuce" comes from à deux le jeu, meaning "to both is the game" (that is, the two players have equal scores).

"Love" may come from l'Å“uf, the egg, a reference to the egg-shaped zero symbol.

The convention of numbering scores "15", "30" and "40" comes from quinze, trente and quarante, which to French ears makes a euphonious sequence, or from the quarters of a clock (15, 30, 45) with 45 simplified to 40.

These origins, of course, aren't the only ones floating around the web. The Straight Dope has some different explanations for the odd scoring system in tennis, as well as a different take on "love." And I've also heard that "deuce" could suggest the fact that you need to score twice in a row to win the game.

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September 6, 2006 - 3:16pm
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