Balette: four centuries of tennis history in Jesi

When nine leather balls were found in 1936, during work to restore the well in Palazzo della Signoria, no one imagined what they were really for. They were put away in storage and forgotten for over 60 years. It was an article written in 2013 by top history of tennis journalist, Gianni Clerici, that opened the eyes of the then director of the Jesi Pinacoteca, Loretta Mozzoni, as to the real use and value of those objects found in a box a few years before. And so new scenarios were added to the town’s already rich historical sporting panorama. In that article, Clerici made reference to the find in Mantua – a world first – of balls dating from the 17th century for the “Giuoco della Rachetta” [racket game], in other words, the ancient game of tennis.

Well, it did not take much to realize that the leather balls from Jesi were the same as the ones from Mantua, telling of the sport’s past popularity in the town. Time has not dulled this vocation and its legacy has been taken up by Gianni’s longed-for Club delle Balette, with the strong support of current vice-chairperson Carla Saveri. To explain the reasons for the popularity of the game of pallacorda in Jesi, the club has commissioned historian Marco Droghini, member of the Marche Native History Deputation, to carry out specific research.

It is hard to say if tennis was born in Jesi but what is certain is that it has been played here for over four centuries and that this passion has definitely remained in the DNA of Jesi’s townsfolk, continuing to give them great satisfaction.

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