Encyclopedia of Sport: Every sport from around the world

Jai Alai

Jai Alai is a sport derived from Basque pelota, and is usually played indoors. It is popular in many Latin American countries.

The sport is played with a hook shaped racket, called cesta, fastened to the right hand, and a round ball. The playing field has a wall on three sides, front, back and the left. The right side is left open or is covered with a net. The playing area is split into 14 zones using horizontal lines. The front wall has a line marked 3ft from the bottom.

Matches are played in both singles or doubles format. A play starts with a serve. Serves have to be delivered from the front court and has to fall between zones 4 and 7 to be considered as a valid serve. An invalid serve results in points being awarded to the opponents. After that, teams alternate to catch the ball either on the full or after one bounce, using the cesta, and hurl it back to the front wall on the full above the 3ft marker line. A player or a team gets a point if the opponent is unable to return the ball back onto the front wall. A team or a player to score seven points first is declared as the winner.

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