In late 1800s tennis was introduced to Japan by Western missionaries. It was here that the sport was modified to suite Japanese preferences. The game became known as soft tennis, and it is a racket sport played mostly in Asia and Europe. Some of the Asian nations include Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Thailand, and the Philippines. In Europe there are up to 13 member associations part of the European Soft Tennis Federation. Like tennis, the sport is played on tennis courts and the rules are similar. The main difference is that the ball is made of soft rubber instead of the hard yellow balls in tennis. The racket has also been modified in terms of being lighter with a lower string compression that compliments the softness of the ball. This means that the game is slower than tennis and gives players unique techniques within the game. It is the doubles match that is more popular in soft tennis, often producing breathtaking rallies and the display of amazing skills.  

The game is played by individuals or pairs. The rules were modified in 1992 to give a forward player in doubles the chance to serve. In soft tennis the serve plays an especially important part of a match. Matches are played on a one-set basis consisting of the best of seven games for singles. The player to reach the first four games wins the match. In doubles it is the best of nine games with the first to reach five games winning the match. A game in a match is won when a player or pairs win four points first. When there are three points each or ‘deuce’, the game is decided until either player/pairs have won two points continuously. This is the same as in tennis and contributes to great rallies in a match.  

The International Soft Tennis Federation is the world governing body managing competitions and development of the growing sport. The pinnacle event of the season is the World Soft Tennis Championships. Soft tennis may be a smaller sport than tennis in terms of participants, but its appeal to a wider audience makes it a popular addition to the world of sports.  

International Soft Tennis Federation

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