Tennis has a long history. A very long one. And in the process of evolving, a lot of things changed.
One of the things that have changed is the tennis court itself. Originally, all tennis courts were grass tennis courts, but as the game evolved, it can now be played on a variety of surfaces. Today, tennis courts can now be surfaced with materials such as clay, grass, acrylic hard courts, synthetic hard courts, and carpet.
Each type of tennis court material provides has its own advantages and also offers unique challenges to players.
You will need to understand how different surfaces affect your game as some playing styles will work better on some types of surfaces and less effectively on others.
The Varying Types of Tennis Courts
Let’s take a brief look at the different types of tennis courts and their impact on your game, shall we?
Understanding the type of surface you are playing on gives you the advantage of enabling you to adjust your playing style accordingly.
Clay Tennis Courts
Clay tennis courts are made of compressed shale, stone, or brick.
While the initial installation is relatively easy and cheap, long-term maintenance can be quite expensive, especially when compared to the costs of artificial tennis court surfaces. Because clay retains water, you will have to monitor and maintain the water balance in a clay court.
Regular rolling is also required to keep it flat. Clay courts are more popular in Europe and Latin America.
When it comes to play, clay tennis courts have a slower game and balls bounce higher, favoring baseline players.
In professional tournaments, clay tennis courts are used in the French Open.
Grass Tennis Courts
Grass tennis courts have been slowly losing the popularity down the years due to high maintenance costs, especially associated with watering, mowing, and after game repairs.
Grass courts also have the disadvantage of being easily affected by weather conditions.
In terms of play, grass is the fastest type of court because of its low bounce capacity. During play, you will need to get to the ball much faster than you would with clay or hard courts.
Grass courts favor players with stronger serve and volley skills. The perfect example of a grass tennis court is Wimbledon.
Hard courts are typically made of “hard” materials such as asphalt or concrete. They are then covered with acrylic material to seal the surface and provide cushioning.
Hard courts play medium-fast to fast games because there is little energy absorption by the court, much like in grass courts.
The ball bounces higher on hard courts and players are able to apply different types of spin during play. When playing on hard courts, flat balls are favored because of the extremely quick play style.
Depending on the quantity and size of sand mixed into the acrylic layer on top of the asphalt foundation, hard courts can be fast or slow. More sand results in a slower bounce due to more friction
Because of their hard and rigid nature, hard courts can play a toll on the body. Modern construction combats this – adding some shock absorbing properties to the synthetic top layer.
Hard courts are considered the best tennis courts by many for their durability, ease of maintenance, and user-friendliness. A great example of a hard court is the Sony Ericsson Open.
Carpet courts are named so because they are made from removable tennis court surfaces. Carpet material comes in many forms but the most common are artificial turf and hard rubber.
Because of high energy absorption, carpet courts make for a fast game. The use of carpet courts in professional tournaments was discontinued in 2009 to reduce injuries.
Tennis Court Orientation
Another major factor that has to be considered when constructing a tennis court is orientation.
It is important to make sure that the players are not dazzled by sunlight and confused by shadows during a match, and this can only be solved by rightly orienting the tennis court depending on its position in relation to the sun.
Tennis Court Fences
Apart from the tennis court outline, net, and surfacing, another important facet of a court is the tennis court fencing.
Tennis court fences serve the purpose of containing stray balls (and sometimes keeping out rowdy spectators or stray animals). This means that the height of the tennis court fence must be high enough to account for high bouncing balls, strong enough to offer good security, and neat enough to give your court a desirable look.
That is a lot of information on tennis courts for now. As a passing shot, when it comes to the best tennis court, that is your call as it is determined by your style of play.
If possible, acquaint yourself with all types of tennis courts so as you become familiar with them.