Jai alai, pronounced hi-lie, is a game similar to three-wall handball. It’s played not with the hand but with a basket-like racket, called the “cesta”, that is strapped to a player’s wrist.
Jai alai is an ancient game of the Basque people, who live in Spain and France. The game is known as pelota in Spain. It was introduced to Cuba in 1900, at a Havana fronton, or playing court, known as the Jai Alai. This expression really means “merry festival” in the Basque
language, but it became the name of the sport in the United States and some other countries.
Players in jai alai use their cesta to hurl a ball off the three walls of the court. And the ball in jai alai moves faster than in any other sport in the world, at times more than 150 miles an hour!
The game of jai alai was introduced to the United States in 1904. Today, it’s played in a number of states where betting on jai alai matches is legal.