Clay Tennis Courts

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The game of tennis is played on three main types of surfaces. The most popular is called hard court and the majority of tennis enthusiasts, professional or amateur, play on this substance. The two remaining court surfaces are made of either grass or clay. The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open make up the Grand Slam of tennis, of which only one is conducted on clay, the French Open. Due to the slowness of clay, some players consider the French tournament to be the most challenging of them all. The surface can be extremely slippery, requiring players to slide into shots, a maneuver that requires years of practice. Because the court’s texture exaggerates the bounce of ball, spinning is much more prevalent in clay court matches. Also, weather can noticeably impact the game. Overcast conditions allow the surface to maintain moisture, which slows the movement of both tennis players and balls. Whereas hot, sunny days will dry out the courts and make everything faster.


What you should know is that there are very few courts in the world actually made from real clay. A modern clay court has a solid base made of limestone and sand and is covered in a layer of finely crushed red-orange brick. The original courts at the French Open were surfaced with broken terra cotta pots, but now they use the very same bricks found in building construction. The courts of the famous tournament go through 88,000 pounds of the material each year. Preparing the court for a match means groundskeepers spend hours raking, rolling and dampening the brick. During a typical tennis match the brick coating will become chalky, amass in certain areas, dissipate into the air and stick to clothing. To make necessary repairs to the courts, a stockpile of 11,000 pounds of freshly crushed brick is close at hand to assure the “clay courts” are always looking their very best. Advantage – French Open.

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