One of the nice things about tennis is that it can be played on several types of surface (take that, hockey!) If you regularly enjoy the game, you have likely played on various types of courts. You may have developed a preference for one over the others, but have you ever wondered just what the difference is?
When you think of professional tennis, grass courts usually come to mind. Grass is the surface of choice at Wimbledon and offers the greatest challenge for players. Grass is slipperier and that causes the ball to move faster. However, because grass is softer, the ball also has a lower bounce than on other courts. That means less time to reach the ball before it hits the court.
Players with a strong serve and a good net game tend to prefer this surface, but slick grass can cause problems even for seasoned professionals, as Serena Williams discovered at the 2016 Wimbledon.
From an ownership standpoint, grass is easily the most expensive and time-consuming option as it requires constant mowing in order to maintain a flat surface. Frequent watering is also a necessity. As a result, grass courts no longer enjoy the popularity they once had.
The deep red colour of clay courts make them easy to spot and these find favor with dedicated players because of the extra challenge they offer.
In contrast to grass, clay causes the ball to bounce much higher. It also reduces both the skid and speed of the ball, meaning that players will need to compensate with speed of their own. Players whose skills center largely on how hard they hit the ball find themselves at a disadvantage on clay.
Those in the Toronto area who prefer this surface can make use of the Har-Tru clay tennis courts at the Granite Club and the Badminton and Racquet Club. Both are air-supported domes that allow the courts to remain in use during the winter months.
Far more commonly seen, hard court offers financial advantages. Comparatively economical substances, such as concrete, provide its foundation, and very little maintenance is required. This makes hard court the perfect choice for private court owners, small tennis clubs, and community centers.
Hard court also offers a middle ground for general players as the surface does not have as dramatic an effect on the ball as either grass or clay. This means that no one type of user can dominate based solely on a single playing skill.
Of course, we don’t mean carpet in the traditional sense here (though it would be fun watching people trying to play tennis on a shag surface!). A carpet court is one made of synthetic material and is rolled out, like a giant mat, and placed over another surface. However, this type of surface fell out of favor and is rarely used.
Tired of putting your racquet in the closet when the first flakes of winter start falling? Join one of the clubs mentioned above or contact your local air-supported dome in order to reserve some court time over the holidays. Don’t let the cold keep you from year-round fun and good health!