What Came First Ping Pong Or Tennis

What Came First Ping Pong Or Tennis

Last modified: October 14, 2023

Tracing the Origins of Table Tennis and Lawn Tennis

What came first ping pong or tennis? It’s an intriguing question and one that requires a bit of a dive into the history books. Both sports have an undeniable charm which makes them captivating to both players and spectators. Let’s put our detective caps on and look at how these two much-loved sports came into inception.

The Story of Table Tennis

Commonly known as ping pong (a term trademarked by sports company Parker Brothers), table tennis has roots that stretch back to 19th-century England. But the interesting aspects come in the unique twists and turns of its development.

It’s a Living Room Game!

Table tennis started as an improvised game for the upper classes during the rainy days. In the absence of proper equipment, books were used as nets, a rounded top from a champagne cork as the ball, and cigar box lids as the bats.

Evolution into a Real Sport

Eventually, enterprising manufacturers began creating proper equipment, leading to the sport’s rise in popularity. By 1926, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was formed and the first World Championships was held.

From Whiff-Whaff to Ping Pong

Table tennis was initially known as whiff-whaff, owing to the sound the ball made during play. Later, a company called J. Jaques & Son Ltd registered ‘Ping Pong’ as a trademark in 1901 and the name has stuck ever since.

The Tale of Lawn Tennis

While table tennis was being played on dining tables, lawn tennis was blooming outdoors. So, what’s the story behind tennis as we know it today?

Birth of Modern Tennis

Modern tennis is generally attributed to Major Walter Wingfield who, in 1873, patented his game called Sphairistike (Greek for “ball game”). This version of tennis, played on an hourglass-shaped court, quickly gained popularity and is seen as the precursor to the tennis we have now.

Establishing the Rules and First Tournaments

The definitive code of laws for lawn tennis was established in 1877 by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, which also held the first Wimbledon tournament same year.

Tennis Reaches Global Popularity

By the turn of the 20th century, tennis had reached global popularity, becoming a staple in various international sporting events such as the Olympics and eventually giving rise to other tournaments like the US Open, French Open, and Australian Open.

In Summary: Which Came First?

So, did ping pong beat tennis in its race into existence? Here’s where we reveal the answer: Tennis came first. The codification and establishment of tennis as a sport took place prior to the formal recognition of table tennis. Major Wingfield’s patent of lawn tennis in 1873 predates the registration of ‘Ping Pong’ by J. Jaques & Son Ltd in 1901 and the formation of ITTF in 1926. So, while you might be able to play table tennis during a rainstorm, it’s the outdoor sport of lawn tennis that holds the title of being the elder sibling in this family of popular racquet sports. Good game, Tennis!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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