Looking to understand the basics of Pop Tennis or are stuck with something intricate about Pop Tennis rules? Here I try to answer all your questions on pop tennis including its history, rules, popularity and comparisons with other racket sports like pickleball.
POP Tennis is a POPULAR form of tennis, one that is played around the USA and more lately, across the globe. It’s very similar to the game of tennis itself although a POP Paddle is used, a special POP ball is used, and the courts are smaller.
If you know the game of Paddle Tennis then you should have no difficulties in understanding the game of POP Tennis. POP Tennis is the new Paddle Tennis, just played on a different sized court. It’s a fun sport and one that is played for recreation and by the whole family, although there are competitions and tournaments.
The POP Tennis Association maintain the rules, the rankings and the tournaments. The POP Tennis Association is supported by The United States Tennis Association, USTA, and is run by volunteers.
What is the History of POP Tennis?
The game of Paddle Tennis dates back to the late 1800s and it is thought the first game was played in 1870 although the game was named and courts were only built in 1915.
Now, more than 100 years later, Paddle Tennis is being rebranded as POP Tennis. POP Tennis is played in almost the same way as Tennis, but like Paddle Tennis, the courts are smaller, paddles are used that are shorter, smaller and more solid, a low compression tennis ball is used, and the serve is underhand.
POP Tennis was created because tennis is not accessible to everyone, it is extremely family friendly, not much equipment is needed (a court, a paddle and a ball) and because it is played on a smaller court, less space is needed.
The size of the court, the ease of the service, and the POP ball and POP paddles, make it a game that is fairly easy for players of all ages and all capabilities. The game is fun, it POPS, and people of all skills can in fact play together. It’s a version of Tennis but it has been scaled down to suit all players.
Paddle tennis, which became POP tennis, was first developed by an Episcopal minister, Frank Peer Beal.
He wanted to create sporting activities for neighborhood children in New York who he felt needed to get out and get exercise but did not have access to expensive clubs and tennis courts.
Beal worked with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to build and develop Paddle or Pop Tennis courts in Washington Square Park. Today you will find over 30 thousand Pop Tennis Courts around the USA.
Pop Tennis Equipment & Accessories
Pop Tennis Court
The game should be played on a Pop Tennis Court, 60 feet long x 27 feet wide. A doubles game will use the entire Pop Tennis Court. A singles match will not use the tram lines, and the court will be 60 feet long x 21 feet.
Pop Tennis Paddles
Pop Tennis Paddles have no strings, are more solid than a standard tennis racquet and shorter, and are textured and / or perforated. Official Pop Tennis Paddles are 18 inches long and 9.5 inches wide.
Pop Tennis Balls
Green dot tennis balls are the official POP tennis balls, as per the POP Tennis Association. The POP tennis balls have 25 % less compression than a standard tennis ball.
The Basic Rules of POP Tennis
If you can play tennis or paddle tennis, the rules are almost the same. The difference comes mainly in the serve.
Here is a synopsis:
- Players flip the paddle or a coin to decide who serves and who receives
- The winner chooses to serve or receive
- If the winner of the flip chooses to serve, the loser chooses the side
- Players stand behind the base line to serve, and serve diagonally to the opponent
- The server is only allowed one serve, and it must go over the net and land in the receiving box
- It the ball hits the net and goes over, it is a let serve and can be replayed
- The serve is served underhand by bouncing it once and hitting it on the upward bounce
- The serve must be hit at waist-height (net-height) or below
- Foot faults, when the foot goes over the baseline before the serve is hit, is a fault
- The ball must land in the opponent’s receiver box
- The receiver can only return the ball once it has bounced
- Only once bounce is permissible
- Once the ball has been served and returned, it stays in play until one player makes an error – hits the ball out the court, hits the ball into the net, makes an unforced or forced error, uses his body to hit the ball or catches the ball
- If a ball hits the line, it is considered to be in.
Scoring is the same as per tennis. A game starts at love, which is the equivalent of zero. Thereafter it goes to 15, 30, 40 or deuce, and then advantages and games.
An example of scoring in POP Tennis
- Server: Serves an Ace. 15/Love
- Server: Serves a Fault. 15 All.
- Server: Serves and the Receiver hits a winning shot. 15/30
- Server: Serves, rallies, the server hits a winning shot. 30 All
- Server: Serves an ace. 40/30
- Server: Serves, rallies, the receiver hits a winning shot. 40 All or Deuce
- Server: Serves, rallies, wins the shot. Server’s Advantage
- Server: Serves an ace. Wins the Game.
Games must be won by two points, meaning it can go to Deuce and Advantage as many times as it takes, much like a normal tennis match, until one person wins the game.
At the end of the game, the opponent gets to serve. A set is reached when one person reaches six games, but each set must be won by 2 games. If a set is 6 all, it goes to a tiebreak set. A match is the best of three sets.
Players change sides after every odd game.
What is the Difference between Pop Tennis and Pickleball?
We have spoken about Pop Tennis, Paddle Tennis and Tennis above, but now we are going to throw Pickleball into the mix. Many people ask what is the difference between Pop Tennis and Pickleball. While the games may sound or look similar, they are in fact pretty different.
Pop Tennis is played on a court the size of a tennis court, using the inner 60 foot x 21 foot space. Pickleball, on the other hand is played on a specially designed Pickleball court, measuring 44 feet x 20 feet. However, tennis courts can be converted into pickleball courts by drawing lines within it.
Pop Tennis Nets are 31-36 inches tall and 20-27 inches wide. Pickleball Nets are 36 inches tall and 20 feet wide.
Pop Tennis paddles are made from carbon fibre and have a hard surface. They are no longer than 18.5 inches long and do not have strings. The surface is perforated.
Pickleball paddles can be made out of aluminium, polypropylene and Nomex and are not perforated. They too are 18.5 inches long, without strings.
Scoring in POP tennis and Pickleball are totally different to one another.
We have given you the POP tennis rules above and we would love you to read our Pickleball article for the rules. Pickleball sets are scored in sets of 11, it is a pretty low impact form of tennis /badminton / ping-pong, and in fact an entirely different game to POP Tennis.
And the biggest difference is the no-volley zone in pickleball, or kitchen as it’s popularly called which doesn’t exist in pop tennis.
Why Pop Tennis has become so POPular?
POP Tennis is so much fun. It’s a ball game that is suitable for all ages, it’s accessible to more people, it’s great exercise and it’s a pretty low impact exercise. The serve, being underhand, makes it easier than tennis and there is always a lot of laughter with POP tennis.
People of all ages and standards can play together and it is a fabulous game for the whole family. The equipment is also inexpensive and it’s a game that does not require hours and hours of coaching. As long as you enjoy ball games, you will enjoy a game of POP Tennis.