Real Tennis Club Huis ter Kleef

This site offers you information about the club, the committee of recommendation, the board and its advisors, the history of Real Tennis and some additional information on becoming a sponsor or member of the program. You will also find an interactive court and some explanation about the game and its rules.

The Real Tennis Club Huis ter Kleef was founded in the Wassenaar offices of notary Niek P.C. van Wijk on 20 November 2001. The aim of the club is to construct and operate a real tennis court.

Board & Advisors

The Real Tennis Club Huis ter Kleef is managed by a board and supported by strong team of advisors. The Club also has a Committee of Recommendation, who endorse the project. A foundation, The Stichting Huis ter Kleef, is responsible for the fundraising and the restoration of the kaatsbaan.

The Board of the Real Tennis Club Huis ter Kleef

Patrick Reuser (president)        +31 71 576 2013

Frank van der Weijden (secretary)        +31 70 390 0650

Toon Schippers        +31 6 8142 6666

Niek van Wijk        +31 70 511 8575

The Advisors of the Real Tennis Club Huis ter Kleef

Rob Onel

Yske Braaksma (Braaksma & Roos, architects The Hague)

Cees van der Horst (Holleman & Zn. Master Building Contractor Santpoort)

The Board of Stichting Huis ter Kleef

Patrick Reuser (president)        +31 71 576 2013

Niek van Wijk        +31 70 511 8575

Arnoud Bernelot Moens        +31 6 5391 5680

Committee of Recommendation

Members of the Committee of Recommendation

This project is supported by a Committee of Recommendation.

Its enthousiastic members are:


The term "tennis" is thought to derive from the French word tenez, which means "take heed" – a warning from the server to the receiver. Real tennis evolved, over three centuries, from an earlier ball game played around the 12th century in France. This had some similarities to palla, fives, pelota, or handball, in that it involved hitting a ball with a bare hand and later with a glove. One theory is that this game was played by monks in monastery cloisters, based on the construction and appearance of early courts. By the 16th century, the glove had become a racquet, the game had moved to an enclosed playing area, and the rules had stabilized. Real tennis spread across Europe, with the Papal Legate reporting in 1596 that there were 250 courts in Paris alone, near the peak of its popularity in France.

Royal interest in England began with Henry V (reigned 1413–22) but it was Henry VIII (reigned 1509–47) who made the biggest impact as a young monarch, playing the game with gusto at Hampton Court on a court he had built in 1530, when he was in his late thirties (Born 28 June 1491) and on several other courts in his palaces. It is believed that his second wife Anne Boleyn was watching a game of real tennis when she was arrested and that Henry was playing tennis when news was brought to him of her execution. During the reign of James I (1603–25), there were 14 courts in London.

In France, François I (1515–47) was an enthusiastic player and promoter of real tennis, building courts and encouraging play among both courtiers and commoners. His successor, Henry II (1547–59), was also an excellent player and continued the royal French tradition. The first known book about tennis, Trattato del Giuoco della Palla was written during his reign, in 1555, by an Italian priest, Antonio Scaino da Salo. Two French kings died from tennis-related episodes – Louis X of a severe chill after playing and Charles VIII after striking his head on the lintel of a door leading to the court in Amboise. King Charles IX granted a constitution to the Corporation of Tennis Professionals in 1571, creating the first pro tennis 'tour', establishing three levels of professionals – apprentice, associate, and master. The first codification of the rules of real tennis was written by a professional named Forbet and published in 1599.

The game thrived among the 17th-century nobility in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and in the Habsburg Empire, but suffered under English Puritanism. By the Age of Napoleon, the royal families of Europe were besieged and real tennis was largely abandoned. Real tennis played a role in the history of the French Revolution, through the Tennis Court Oath, a pledge signed by French deputies in a real tennis court, which formed a decisive early step in starting the revolution. During the 18th century and early 19th century, as real tennis declined, new racquets sports emerged in England: racquets and squash racquets.

In Victorian England real tennis had a revival, but broad public interest later shifted to the new, outdoor, game of lawn tennis, which soon became the more popular sport, played by both sexes (real tennis players were almost exclusively male). Real tennis courts were built in Hobart, Australia (1875) and in the United States, starting in 1876 in Boston, and in New York in 1890, and later at athletic clubs in several other cities. Real tennis greatly influenced the game of stické, which was invented in the 19th century and combined aspects of real tennis, lawn tennis and racquets. Real Tennis has the longest line of consecutive world champions of any sport in the world.

Source is wikipedia. For more information also visit www.real-tennis.nl.

Project Status

Read on the current status of project Huis ter Kleef

Real Tennis recently took a big step towards returning to Holland. The City of Haarlem has agreed to our proposal to restore the real tennis court at Huis ter Kleef. The court is, among covered courts, the world's oldest and is now used by the city primarily as a canteen. The challenge now is to raise approx. €1,450,000 for the substantial rebuilding required. The court, complete with its proud little tower, was built around 1560 by Hendrik van Brederode next to his castle and tennis was played there likely until the early 1600s. Hendrik was a close friend and ally of William of Orange and in the turbulent year 1566 was the leader of the rebellion against the Spanish. The castle was largely destroyed by Don Federico during the siege of Haarlem of 1573, but Hendrik's kaatsbaan was spared, not for Federico's love of the game, but to be used as a prison. An eyewitness reported that many prisoners died on the tennis court because "Federico had promised them their lives but not their food".

Restoring this unique monument will be a major project. The refurbishments on the tennis court will be conducted with a great degree of authenticity, in tune with mid-sixteenth century practice. The original kaatsbaan walls still exist, but the interior structure requires substantial architectural adjustments and renovations. The roof is in a dilapidated state and needs to be restored. Besides upper windows will have to be installed and all the architectural features of a tennis court will have to be incorporated, including a flagstone floor and lighting. The present office spaces will be transformed into a bar/lounge, meeting room and changing facilities. The building will also be used to serve as a tennis museum, with displays of old tennis exhibits in the penthouse corridor(s) and within various club facilities. The items displayed should guide the visitor through 500 years of tennis history, starting with a game on the kaatsbaan. Holland could pride itself on at least 150 tennis courts in the seventeenth century.

Game & Court

The rules of tennis have not changed for centuries. Stripped of its special rules for serving and chases, the game is simple to understand. Each player strives to get the ball over the net and in doing so may use any wall - as in squash. The scoring is the same as in lawn tennis (15, 30, 40, deuce, advantage), except that the score of the winner of the last point, and not that of the server, is called first.

A set is won by the first player to win 6 games. So, if the score is five games all, there is a final deciding game. At the conclusion of each game the winner of that game has his score called first. As in lawn tennis singles or doubles can be played. The length of the Royal Tennis Court is approximately one and a half times the length of a lawn tennis court: its width a fraction more than the width of a doubles Lawn Tennis Court. Halfway between the two ends a net stretches from side to side of the court. In the centre the height of the net is the same as a Lawn Tennis net. At either end the net is higher, in fact, five foot.

Various features of a tennis court are still known by their original French names. Thus the long opening at the end of the service side of the court (behind which spectators can sit and watch a game) is known as the "Dedans". At the opposite end of the court the buttress projecting from the wall is known as the "tambour" and the wooden opening near it is called the "grille". These details are shown on the Court Plan.

A game is begun by a service which is always from the same end of the court (the service side). The opposite end of the court where the receiver stands is called the hazard side. The service does not alternate with each game as in lawn tennis. The server changes ends and ceases to serve only when a chase has been laid. The meaning of a chase will be explained below. To be a good service the ball has to touch the penthouse roof at least once on the hazard side of the net and drop in the service court. If it does not touch the penthouse roof or if it hits a window or the roof it will be a fault.

A chase is laid where the ball bounces the second time without being hit by the player. On the service side a chase is laid wherever the ball bounces a second time. On the hazard side a hazard chase is laid if the ball bounces the second time between the net and the line parallel to it furthest from the net. If it lands a second time between that line and the back wall, it is a point for the server.

The galleries on either side of the net also count as chases, with the exception, on the hazard side of the winning gallery. If the ball enters the winning gallery, it is a point for the server. Other winning openings which provide outright winners are the dedans on the service side and the grille on the hazard side.

If a chase is laid, the point is not won by that shot, the point is kept in abeyance until the player changes ends. When the players change end, the receiver (who was previously the server) has to beat the chase. The players change ends if two chases have been laid or if one player reaches game point and there is one chase. If it is a hazard chase, the receiver will beat the chase by playing any shot which the server cannot return, either on the floor or by hitting one of the galleries on the service side. If it is a service chase, the receiver will beat the chase by the second bounce landing nearer the back wall than the chase. To assist in determining where precisely a ball bounces the second time, lines are marked on the floor at intervals of one yard. The figures above the lines on the opposite wall show the number of yards measured, on the service side, from the back wall and, on the hazard side, from the service line. The nearer a chase on the service side is to the back wall, the more difficult it is to beat.

When the players change ends, the first point to be played is the chase. The marker will call out the chase which the receiver hopes to beat. If the chase is exactly on a yard line, the marker will call out the number of yards, e.g. "chase 2 and 3" means two and a half yards from the back wall. If the chase falls between a yard and a half-yard line, the marker will call out "better than" or "worse than" the yard line, depending on whether the ball fell nearer the back wall, or further from the back wall, than the yard line. If the ball went into a gallery, the marker calls out the name of that gallery, e.g. the Last Gallery. Each gallery has a line on the floor opposite to the centre of the gallery. If the chase is laid on the floor between galleries, the marker calls out "better / worse than" say, the Second Gallery.


Sponsoring opportunities

The Stichting Huis ter Kleef, a charitable foundation, is now cooperating with Stadsherstel, a 60 year old non-profit organization that purchases, restores and maintains historically listed buildings (see www.stadsherstel.nl). The Stichting will submit financing requests to both public and private institutional funds focused on restoring historic buildings in The Netherlands and in Europe. This process will take some time but we are confident that these funds will reduce our financing need substantially. At the same time we will be setting up a fundraising effort to complete the financing package, in the US, Great Britain and Australia. At this stage, all donations are most welcome ! Anyone donating a minimum of € 1000 will be awarded with a unique memento, a replica of Huis ter Kleef in Delft Blue – this latest edition in the series of so-called KLM huisjes (see pictures) is already a collector's item !!


Apart from the abovementioned fundraising efforts, the RTC Huis ter Kleef is seeking to raise more initial and operating capital through a variety of membership categories. They are:

  • Life membership & free court – founding patron        € 10.000,-
  • Life membership – founding member        € 5.000,-
  • 10 year full paying membership        € 3.000,-
  • Annual full membership        € 450,-
  • Annual non-playing membership        € 100,-
  • Life European & overseas membership        € 2.000,-
  • 10 year European & overseas membership        € 1000,-
  • Annual European membership        € 125,-

If you wish to support our unique project to restore the world's oldest (covered) court, or if you wish to receive more details regarding sponsoring or membership please contact one of the following persons:

  • Patrick Reuser (president Stichting & RTC Huis ter Kleef)        (reuser@euronet.nl)
  • Niek van Wijk (secretary Stichting Huis ter Kleef)        (npcvanwijk@gmail.com)
  • Arnoud Bernelot Moens (treasurer Stichting Huis ter Kleef)        (arnoud.bernelot.moens@intertrustgroup.com)