Soft tennis is a racket game played on a court of two halves, separated by a net. Like regular tennis, it is played by individuals (singles) or pairs (doubles), whose object is to hit the ball over the net, landing within the confines of the court, with the aim of preventing one's opponent from being able to hit it back. Soft tennis differs from regular tennis in that it uses soft rubber balls instead of hard yellow balls. It is played primarily in Asia, especially in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. In 2004 soft tennis was introduced into Europe. Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom all now have active soft tennis federations. All of them are also members of the European Soft Tennis Federation, and the International Federation JSTA.
Matches can be played as singles, men or women doubles and mixed doubles, as in regular tennis. Singles matches are usually played by a one set, best of seven games system (the player who has won four games wins the match). Doubles are played by a one set, best of nine system ( the pair who has won five games first wins the match). A game is won by the player /pair that has won four points first. In the case of when a player/pair has three points each, is called “deuce” and the game is continued until either player/pair has won two points continuously, the same as regular tennis.
- Soft tennis balls are soft, hollow and light. They are made of rubber and are filled with air. White and yellow are the official authorized colors. The ball`s air pressure can be adjusted by using a small hand pump with a blunt pin. The pin is inserted into a designated spot on the ball`s surface and one can inflate or deflate the ball.
- Rackets are almost the same shape, length and material as for those of regular tennis. Differences are that soft tennis rackets need to be lighter in weight and more flexible to suit the softer and lighter balls used in the game. Rackets strings are usually the same material as regular ones except more flexible and the racket is strung at a lower compression to suit the softer ball.
Rules of the Game: The rules of the soft tennis game are provided by the International Soft Tennis Federation. There are many parts of the rules which are common to both soft and regular tennis, but there are some differences. Here are the more significant exceptions:
- The net is the same height, 1.07m or 3'6", all the way across the court; it's not 6" lower in the middle as in regular tennis.
- A match in singles consists of a single set completed by winning four games (best of seven). A doubles match is won with five games (best of nine). The number of games in a match might be so much fewer than in regular tennis because soft-tennis points are expected to last much longer.
- In soft tennis doubles, the serving rotation between teams is the same as in regular tennis, but the partners on a team take turns serving two consecutive points throughout the game.
- Instead of tie-breaks, soft tennis uses a "final game" at 3-all in singles or 4-all in doubles. In the final game, singles players or doubles teams take turns serving two points at a time, and they change ends after the first two points and then after every four.
Competitions: In 1973, the International Soft Tennis Federation was established, with the first world championships following in 1975. Since then, the championships have been held every four years, with players from almost 65 countries taking part. Soft Tennis was introduced to the Asian Games programme as an exhibition sport in the 11th Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 and subsequently became an official sport during the 12th Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan in 1994 has been in the Asian Games programme ever since.
Soft Tennis was introduced to India since 2002 and that over seven years ago. ASTFI(Amateur Soft Tennis federation of India) affiliated with International Soft Tennis Federation, Japan & Asian Soft Tennis Federation, Japan.
To know more about the national soft tennis events visit: Events list