This week on NRK2 (the state public channel in Norway) Wimbledon has been on every night. This might seem normal to any tennis playing country but in Norway there aren’t any tennis courts! No short grass fields with painted lines, no red clay to colour the landscape. Why are there no tennis courts in Norway? Ah-ha – I guess ice and snow isn’t good for bouncing balls and short sprints. Imagine lobbing the ball over the net to only have it drop two feet beneath the white snowy floor!
It seems like Norway’s only claim to fame in tennis was Molla Mallory in 1923 (a Norwegian born American tennis player). Back then tennis was called ‘jeu de paume’ (the game of the palm) – a little wilder than the modern tea-sport with balls bouncing against walls and roofs apart from hitting in over the net. Molly was ranked 2nd in the world in 1921 and 1922. Unfortunately she was defeated in the 1923 U.S. Women’s singles championship by the 18 year old Helen Wills.
Even though tennis isn’t Norway’s most popular playing sport (it is said that ten pin bowling has more popularity!) Norway still has a fairly decent tennis organisation: Norges tennisforbund. Maybe if they introduce downhill ski-tennis the game might pick up? Two skiers pelting down the track on either side of a net hitting the ball in front of each other – it could work… it’s got the pace, the agility and the stackability all in one!
However, there must be some indoor tennis courts around somewhere due to the obvious popularity of Wimbledon on TV (but I have yet to find one). Actually, now that I think about it, in all the places I have visited and lived, I have only seen one outdoor court in Oslo at Frognerparken near the statue park (but I’ve never seen anyone playing on it!)