Every tennis player has at least once asked themselves, how are these tennis courts made? What’s underneath the courts?
In this blog post, we will explore all the types of tennis court surfaces and what materials are used in their construction.
There are 3 types of surfaces for tennis courts:
- Hard court/Carpet
These courts may be created indoors or outdoors and each surface can affect how you play the game.
Here’s what grass, clay, carpet, and hard courts are made of.
How Are Grass Tennis Courts Made?
Grass courts are comprised of various grasses grown on hard, compressed soil. Before growing the grass, the soil needs to be packed and rolled to provide a suitable base for the court.
The grass tends to be slippery, allowing the ball to retain most of its velocity after hitting the court.
As the balls often skid and have a low bounce, players need to move more quickly compared to other tennis court surfaces. The playing style is quicker and usually favors the serve-and-volley approach.
The condition of the court also impacts the game. The health and length of the grass may change the bounce and skid of the ball.
The grass is the original surface for tennis courts and the cheapest to create. However, grass court maintenance is costly and time-consuming.
The original Grand Slam tennis tournaments were played on grass courts. The only major tournament that still uses a grass court is Wimbledon, which is also the oldest tennis tournament.
What Are Clay Courts Made of?
The French Open started using clay courts in 1891. It remains a popular option in continental Europe and Latin America.
The clay material is typically comprised of various crushed aggregates including stones, shale, and brick. These clay courts tend to be cheap to construct and costly to maintain.
The surface needs to be rolled to keep it flat.
While grass courts help the ball retain its speed, clay courts slow the ball down. Players can also get more bounce compared to other playing surfaces.
With a clay court, there is less benefit for big serves. Clay courts favor players that play from the baseline and serve groundstrokes.
There are two main varieties of clay courts, red and green.
Red clay courts are constructed from crushed brick. The top layer may include looser particles to allow better drainage.
Green clay courts are comprised of crushed metabasalt materials. This material helps create a slightly firmer surface, which helps speed up the play compared to a traditional clay court.
What Are Hard Courts Made of?
Hard courts were originally clay courts as they were hard compared to the grass courts. Modern hard courts are commonly made from concrete or asphalt.
This material provides the foundation for the tennis court, which is then covered with a layer of synthetic material.
These tennis courts favor different types of playing styles.
Some hard courts may offer faster or slower speeds. However, they are typically faster compared to clay courts and slower than grass courts.
Hard courts have been used for the US Open and Australian Open for several decades. They are also often found at parks and other public tennis facilities.
Hard courts tend to provide inexpensive options for public tennis courts. They also require less maintenance compared to the other playing surfaces.
What Are Carpet Tennis Courts Made of?
Carpet courts are often used for temporary courts. Any removable tennis court covering is considered a carpet court.
Two of the most common materials for carpet courts include nylon and rubber. They are typically sold in sheets or rolls and intended for indoor courts.
Outdoor carpet courts are often comprised of artificial turf filled with sand.
As these courts are made from a variety of materials and used on different surfaces, they offer varying levels of bounce and speed. However, they are typically fast with a low bounce.
Very few professional tennis events use carpet courts. In 2009, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) decided to stop using carpet courts in professional tournaments.
They wanted to standardize the use of hard courts and reduce the risk of injury to players.