Jai-Alai is a centuries old sport from the Basque country of Spain and France. Translated the words mean “Merry Festival.” Jai-Alai came to the United States in 1904 with the first permanent facility (“fronton”) opening in Florida in 1924.
EQUIPMENT. The “cesta” is a curved catching and throwing basket made of Spanish Chestnut and reeds from the Pyrenees Mountains. The “pelota” is slightly smaller than a baseball and is hand made of two layers of goat skin over nylon thread covering tightly wound strands of virgin rubber.
THE GAME. The game is played in round-robin rotation, usually by 8 teams or single players. In doubles, each team consists of a front court player and a back court player. The game begins when the front court player of team No. 1 serves the ball to Team No. 2. The winner of a point stays on the court to meet the next team in rotation. Losers go to the end of the line to await another turn on the court. The first team to score 7 points (or 9 in Superfecta games) wins. The next highest scores are “place” (second) and “show” (third). Playoffs decide tied scores.
THE SERVE. The server must bounce the ball behind the serving line (the No. 11 line), and, with the cesta, hurl the ball directly to the front wall so that upon rebound it will bounce between lines No. 4 and 7. If it does not it is an under or over serve and the other team will receive the point.
SCORING POINTS. The ball must be caught on the fly or first bounce and may touch the floor only once. All three walls are in play – the red is out-of-bounds. In “Spectacular Seven/Nine scoring the point value is 1 until each team has played once, thereafter point value is 2.