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Understand The Tennis Court In Order To Understand Tennis

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So you have decided to take up tennis? Or maybe you are content to be a spectator but you would like to expand your knowledge of the game. There are a lot of variables to tennis, from the proper clothes to the equipment, from the rules to the players, but there are some constants in the game too.

At seventy-eight feet long from baseline to baseline, and twenty-seven feet wide – thirty-six feet for doubles matches – the size of the tennis court is one of those constants, and one can learn a lot about the game simply by understanding this field of play.

While the size of a tennis court never changes, the surface of the court can vary from location to location. There are three basic types of surfaces on which tennis is played, and each surface dictates a particular style of play.

Clay courts are made of crushed stone, brick, or shale, and are usually reddish orange in color, although they can be green as well. Clay courts are considered slow courts where balls tend to bounce higher and more slowly than on other surfaces. Consequently, points often last longer on clay courts as players tend to stay near the baseline – the line farthest from the net – and play defensively because it is so difficult to simply blast one by their opponent.

Clay courts are more prevalent in Europe and South America than they are in the United States. Of the professional Grand Slam tournaments only the French Open – or the Tournoi de Roland-Garros as it is officially known – is played on a clay surface.

The second kind of playing surface that one would find on a tennis court is grass. Rarely seen because of their high maintenance costs, grass courts are grown on firmly packed soil, much like a golf green. Of all the playing surfaces, grass presents the most variables to players.

Wear and tear, moisture, firmness of soil, and the length of time the grass has grown since being mowed all play a role in the playing characteristics of a grass court. Despite these variables, grass court players can usually expect the ball to bounce low forcing the players to get to the ball faster if they are to have a chance at a return; hence, grass courts are fast courts.

Successful grass court players typically play a serve and volley style of game where they quickly rush to the net after serving in hopes of forcing their opponent to hit a fast and perfect return; not easy on a fast, grass court. The most famous grass court is most certainly Centre Court at Wimbledon, home of The Championships, Wimbledon, a Grand Slam event and the oldest event in championship tennis.

Faster than clay courts yet slower than grass courts, hard courts are the most common type of tennis court. Constructed of cement or synthetic materials, hard courts vary in speed and bounce, but generally fall in the middle of the spectrum on both fronts. Hard courts are also the most conducive to all styles of play and, unlike grass or clay, they do not provide significant advantage or disadvantage to players with different styles.

Consequently, hard courts are often considered to provide the fairest test of all around skill. The United States Open and Australian Open are both played on hard courts, although the US Open uses an acrylic surface while the Australian Open utilizes a synthetic surface. Indoor courts are a variable of hard courts that are usually made of cement, wood, or even artificial turf. They typically have similar playing characteristics that are similar to other variations of hard courts.

Now that you understand the different surfaces that can be found in tennis you can use that knowledge to enhance your strategies on the court, or your appreciation for the game as a spectator. Either way, you must understand the tennis court in order to fully understand tennis.


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