Frontenis is a sport that is played in a 30 meter pelota court using racquets (a tennis racquet or a similar frontenis racquet) and rubber balls. It can be played in pairs or singles, but only pairs frontenis is played in international competitions. This sport was developed in Mexico around 1900, and is accredited as a Basque pelota speciality.

In frontenis, one player of the pair hits the ball with the racquet toward the front wall. The ball must strike the playable surface of the front wall and return to the playable area of the court. The opposing players must strike the ball before it bounces a second time on the floor of the court. As with other racquet sports, the best stroke is one that the opponent cannot return. Frontenis demands having a great mobility, skill, physical agility, mental agility, coordination and training.

For many years, frontenis was played only in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and a few other countries, but now it is played in approximately eighteen countries worldwide.

2013 Basque Pelota World Cup - Frontenis - France vs Spain 25
Frontenis match


Frontenis was created in Mexico in 1900. Several famous tennis players (Buttlin, Sharp, Crowle, Pérez Verdia, Maldonado, Clifford, etc.) started playing with rackets and a tennis ball hitting it against a wall. This new game, with its first modern pelota court, built in Fernando Torreblanca’s house (Mexico), was called “frontontenis” (from fronton and tenis — “pelota court” and “tennis” in Spanish, respectively), and later its name was reduced to “frontenis”.

Because of the increase of the number of pelota players, pelota courts proliferated, and frontenis expanded from Mexico to neighboring countries and later to Europe. Frontenis was introduced into the Iberian Peninsula in the 1940s by way of the Canary Islands. In the 1960s, Olympic ball was introduced in Mexico, and many Mexican players travelled to Spain to teach the technique. The game and all its innovations were taken from Spain to the other countries of Europe.

Every European country that plays pelota is member of the Union of European Basque Pelota Federations (UEBPF), and all the countries that play Basque pelota are members of the International Federation of Basque Pelota (IFBP).

Frontenis (recognized by the IFBP) started being played in international competitions in 1952, with the First World Championship held in Donostia-San Sebastian (Spain).

The rules

Frontenis has its own rules, like every sport. There are international rules, national rules and territorial rules, and they differ from each other in several things.

The court

Frontenis Court

The court used in frontenis is a pelota court of the Very Short type — 30 meters long, 10 meters wide and 10 meters high. Its walls must have signs to establish the distances of service, and to help the player to situate itself in the court. There are several parts that form the court:

Front wall (frontis)

This is the wall at the front of the court faced by the players. Every ball hit by a player must strike this wall before touching the ground to be valid. The front wall measures 10 meters wide by 10 meters high. The lower 60 centimeters of this wall is not a legally playable surface. The upper limit of this non-playable surface is covered with a 10-centimeter-wide metallic sheet (chapa in Spanish, txapa in Basque) that audibly indicates an impact on the upper part of the non-playable surface.

Left wall or help wall

The wall is to the players' left as they face the front wall. It is marked with lines every 3.5 meters, measured from the front of the court. On its upper rim is located a 10 centimeter wide metallic sheet that signals a ball striking outside of the playable area. This wall with its markings helps players situate themselves within the court.

Rebound wall

It is the wall situated in the back of the court. It has no markings and is the same size as the front wall. It has 10 centimeter metallic sheets on its rims to give an audible indication of a ball striking outside of the playable area. Many pelota courts lack this wall, and are therefore not used for official competitions.

The racket and the strings

The racquet used in frontenis is, according to Spanish Pelota Federation (SPF), “similar or equal to tennis racquets, made of wood, fiber, metal or graphite. Weight and stringing are not limited, and double strings can be used. The racquets' length and width are not limited.”

Racquets have evolved considerably since the beginning of professional frontenis in 1900. Much of this evolution has paralleled standard tennis racquets

At first, racquets were made of wood and the strings were made of animal gut. These were very heavy and did not provide comfortable play, but they were used for more than thirty years until the great player Jose, the “Poison” Becerra revolutionized the sport. Manufacturers that made tennis products started to manufacture parallel products for frontenis when Becerra started to win championships. In the 1990s a Mexican company, “Master Pro”, was created exclusively to manufacture frontenis products. Recently, other companies have appeared specializing in frontenis equipment.

Simple strings is used in Preolympic frontenis, and the tension varies depending on the ball — Penn strings require 15-19 kilos, VIP strings require 17-21 kilos, and Champion Elite strings requie 17-23 kilos. Double strings (duplication of 4 horizontal strings and 3 vertical strings) are used in Olympic frontenis in order to give more effect to the ball. Double stringing demands higher tensions, between 21 and 27 kilos.

The ball

The ball in Olympic frontenis (the only modality accepted by the IFBP) is the Olympic ball.

Originally, the sport was played with ordinary tennis balls, but the fiber cover of these balls slowed them excessively, reduced their bounce, and made the game very slow. To speed the game, the fabric cover of the tennis balls was removed. Later, balls made of oilcloth were imported from England and the United States with the goal of further speeding the game.

During the Second World War, ball imports ceased, and Francisco Beltran was forced to look for substitutes. He experimented with pressurizing rubber balls. After the Second World War, Beltran started manufacturing improved balls.

A few years later the first frontenis ball company, “201”, was founded by Francisco Beltran who contributed his ball designs and Doctor Jesus Ledezma who provided financing. Ball design continues to evolve.

1994 Basque Pelota World Championships

The 1994 Basque Pelota World Championships were the 12th edition of the Basque Pelota World Championships organized by the FIPV.

2002 Basque Pelota World Championships

The 2002 Basque Pelota World Championships were the 14th edition of the Basque Pelota World Championships organized by the FIPV.

2006 Basque Pelota World Championships

The 2006 Basque Pelota World Championships were the 15th edition of the Basque Pelota World Championships organized by the FIPV.

2022 Central American and Caribbean Games

The 24th Central American and Caribbean Games will be held in 2022 in Panama City, Panama.

Basque Pelota World Championships

The Basque Pelota World Championships is a quadrennial tournament first organized in 1952 by the International Federation of Basque Pelota. The modern championships crowns the best amateur players in fifteen different playing categories.

Basque Pelota at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games

The Basque Pelota competition at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games was held in Veracruz, Mexico.

The tournament was scheduled to be held from 18–23 November at the Basque Pelota Pavilion.

Basque pelota

Basque pelota (pilota in the original Basque language also pelota vasca in Spanish, pelote basque in French) is the name for a variety of court sports played with a ball using one's hand, a racket, a wooden bat or a basket, against a wall (frontis or Fronton) or, more traditionally, with two teams face to face separated by a line on the ground or a net. The roots of this class of games can be traced to the Greek and other ancient cultures.The term pelota probably comes from the Vulgar Latin term pilotta (ball game). It is a diminutive form of the word pila which may relate to a hard linen or leather ball filled with pilus (fur or hair) or to the Latin words for strike or spade and is related to the English word pellet.Today, Basque pelota is played in several countries. In Europe, this sport is concentrated in Spain and France, especially in the Basque Country. The sport is also played in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Cuba. Operated as a gaming enterprise called Jai Alai, it is seen in parts of the U.S. such as Florida, Connecticut, Nevada, and Rhode Island.

In Valencia, Valencian pilota is considered the national sport; it is also played in Belgium, North of Italy, Mexico, and Argentina.

Since its creation, the International Federation of Basque Pelota has standardised the different varieties into four modalities and fourteen disciplines, with fixed ball weights, rules and court sizes. The four modalities—30 metres (33 yd) wall, 36 metres (39 yd) wall, 54 metres (59 yd) wall and trinquete—admit fourteen disciplines, depending the use of bare hand, leather ball, rubber ball, paleta (pelota paleta), racket (frontennis) and xare. Two of the fourteen disciplines are played by both men and women (frontenis and rubber pelota in trinquete); the other twelve are played only by men. This allows championship play at the international level, and allows the participation of players and teams from around the world using the same rules. There is, however, criticism about this, since purists might argue that some of the original traits of each particular modality could be lost.

Even with protection, accidents do happen. With the ball easily travelling at 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph), pelota can kill if safety equipment is not used properly or at all; while rare, occasional deaths do occur.

Basque pelota at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Basque Pelota was a demonstration sport at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. It was the third time that the sport was included in the Olympic program; it was an official Olympic sport at the 1900 Games in Paris, and a demonstration sport in 1924. It would be included as a demonstration sport once again at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

Basque pelota at the 1992 Summer Olympics

Basque Pelota was a demonstration sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. It was the fourth and last time that the sport was included in the Olympic program; it was an official Olympic sport at the 1900 Games in Paris, and a demonstration sport in 1924 and 1968.

The Basque Pelota events were held from 25 July to 5 August in the Olympic area of Vall d'Hebron, where a 54m long court, a 36m long court, and a trinquet were built and a 30m long court was refurbished. In each modality, the participants were the four best classified countries at the World Championships held in Cuba in 1990. However, the United States renounced to participate and had to be replaced by the team that had finished in fifth place when necessary.

Basque pelota at the 1995 Pan American Games

Basque pelota was on the program for the first time at the 1995 Pan American Games in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Basque pelota at the 2003 Pan American Games

Basque pelota was on the program for the second time at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Basque pelota at the 2011 Pan American Games

Basque pelota at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, were held over a six-day period from October 21 to October 27. The events took place at the Basque Pelota Complex in Guadalajara.

Basque pelota at the 2013 Bolivarian Games

Basque pelota (Spanish: Pelota vasca and Frontón, meaning pelota court), for the 2013 Bolivarian Games, took place from 18 November to 25 November 2013.

CN Terrassa

Club Natació Terrassa is a Catalan sports club from Terrassa, Catalonia. It was founded in 1932 as a water polo and swimming club, and later created athletics, basketball, field hockey, figure skating, frontenis, football, football tennis, judo, karate, mountaineering, padel tennis, triathlon and valencian pilota sections.

The men's and women's water polo play in the Spanish premier championships; the male team has played regularly the LEN Trophy, while the female team made its debut in the División de Honor in 2010. The swimming section has provided three swimmers for the Summer Olympics between the 1980 and 2004 editions: Natalia Más, Cristina Rey and Laura Roca.

Fronton (court)

A fronton (Spanish: frontón; Basque: frontoi or pilotaleku; French: fronton) is a two-walled or single-walled court used as a playing area for Basque pelota.

List of racket sports

Racket sports are games in which players use rackets to hit a ball or other object.


Ball badminton

Basque pelota



Beach tennis





Paleta Frontón

Pelota mixteca


Platform tennis





Real tennis

Soft tennis


Crossminton (previously "Speedminton")


Hardball squash

Squash tennis


Table tennis


Eclipse Ball

Tennis polo

Mexico at the 1995 Pan American Games

The 12th Pan American Games were held in Mar del Plata, Argentina from March 12 to March 26, 1995.

Richard C. Squires

Richard C. Squires (1931-2003) (popularly known as Mr. Paddle) was a notable tennis, frontenis, squash, and platform tennis player who popularised the sport of platform tennis.

Fronton grounds
Notable Pelotaris
Pelota at the Olympics
Defunct frontons
Related articles
Basket sports
Football codes
Bat-and-ball games
Stick and ball sports
Net sports
Other sports

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