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Treatise on the game of the ball Unknown Binding – 1984

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Unknown Binding, 1984

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Language Notes

Text: English, Italian

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Raquetier (1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095084991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0950849911
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,968,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Simon Withers on August 21, 2006
Format: Unknown Binding
This book was written in 1555 and it is the earliest surviving book dedicated to tennis - or to any sport, for that matter. Its Italian title is Trattato del Giuoco della Palla, which translates literally as "Treatise on the Game of the Ball". It is a good title because the book is not really about tennis or real tennis, but rather, as the title suggests, "the game of the ball", from which real tennis evolved.

Antonio Scaino da Salò (1524-1612) was a priest in the service of Alfonso II d'Este, the 5th and last Duke of Ferrara. Alfonso (1533-95) was the grandson of Louis XII on his mother's side and Lucrezia Borgia on his father's side.

In the introduction Scaino gives virtuous reasons for undertaking the work, but the real purpose of the book appears to have been the resolution of a dispute relating to scoring which arose between Alfonso and another player. As it was common to wager on tennis matches, the dispute may not have been academic. Not surprisingly Scaino comes down on the side of his prince.

To the modern reader, the book contains an awful lot of waffle and it is not recommended reading to anyone other than an enthusiast. Scaino gives the impression of an earnest student of the game but one who has not played the game and, consequently, some of his information, reasoning and conclusions appear to be mistaken.

But there is much useful historical information on the game as it was played in 1555, which makes it an invaluable historical tool.

There is also some advice which the modern player may find a bit odd, such as what happens when

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