There are four different types of tennis court playing surfaces; grass, clay, hard courts, and carpeted. Among the current Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open and the Australian Open are played on hard courts. The French Open is played on clay courts. Wimbledon is played on grass courts and is the only Grand Slam tennis tournament that has always been played on that surface.
The beginnings of the game we call tennis can be traced to a 12th-century French handball game called, “jeu de paume” (game of the palm) played in monastery cloisters in Northern France. By the 16th century, rackets were added and the game began to be called, “tennis”. It was very popular with European royalty, especially in England and France. Henry the VIII was a fan of the game. He built and played on courts in Hampton Court.
Other racket sports were also being invented such as racquets, squash racquets, and eventually lawn tennis. Lawn Tennis is credited to an Englishman, Major Charles Wingfield, who patented the equipment and the rules for the game in London in 1874. Both were “refined” by the All England Crocquet and Lawn Tennis Club, who staged their first tournament on the lawns of Wimbledon 1877.
Natural grass courts are a soft playing surface and that results in fast ball speed. The surface is unique in producing low ball bounce, sometimes the ball even skids, but the ball retains its speed. There can be “bad bounces” and the player must get to the ball faster. Rallies are brief and the player’s serve becomes more important. There are fewer than 500 grass courts in the U.S. They are difficult to build and harder to maintain. They require regular mowing, fertilization, weed maintenance, and watering. The surface is similar to a putting green. Rain makes grass courts too slippery and play is impossible when they are wet.
Grass courts are most common in Britain, but there are some private grass courts in the Northern and Eastern U.S. In 2015, the Stuttgart Open was played on grass courts. 2016 saw the WTA tour in Mallorca using grass courts. This year, 2017, an ATP 250 Tournament will be played on grass courts in Antalya, Turkey. Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, has always been played on grass courts and takes place in July.
The French Open started by alternating between the use of clay and sand/rubble courts. Clay courts are made from crushed shale, stone, or brick. This surface produces a slower ball bounce but the bounce is relatively high. Players must have the ability to slightly slide into the stroke as they hit the ball because the court has a slight give or slide. Play on a clay court is different than on hard courts, where running and stopping happens more easily. On a clay court the ball leaves an impression on the ground, which makes it easy to determine if the ball was in or out of bounds. Clay courts also leave stains on clothing and footwear. On shoes, the clay will actually build up and must be removed regularly.
Clay courts have to be wetted down and can dry out. They are difficult to renew if allowed to dry out too much. Some clay surfaces need to be sloped to allow the water to run off, the water content needs to be balanced. The surface must be rolled to get the flat, level surface needed to play.
There is a green clay surface which is crushed basalt. The surface is harder and produces play that is slightly faster. Green clay is packed as a subsurface and covered with a topping. These kinds of clay courts are found in all 50 states. Clay courts are more common in Europe and Latin America. In Pittsburgh’s Frick Park, there are 6 clay courts that have been in continual use since 1930.
The U.S. Open began play on grass courts and did so until 1974. It then switched to green clay until 1977. When the U.S. Open moved to the National Tennis Center in 1978 they began playing on hard courts. The US Open is the only one of the four major tournaments to have been played on three different surfaces. The Australian Open switched to hard courts in 1988.
The US Open is played on hardcourt tennis courts. They usually consist of an acrylic surface layer over cement. This type of surface is considered a “fast” service for ball speed. Hard serves, short rallies and bounce consistency are produced by this type of surface. The amount of sand used in the topcoat of the tennis court construction and the type of substrate underneath are what affect the ball speed. We can adjust the speed of your court to suit your style of play. Most of our residential customers prefer a medium to slow speed court. The ball on a fast court has the effect of skimming across the surface. A medium to slow speed gives the ball more traction and a higher bounce. Taylor Tennis Courts can provide the exact surface you require, with expert results.
Whichever type of tennis court surface you choose, Taylor Tennis Courts will build it to your specifications. Whether your project is to build from the ground-up or a simple resurfacing, we pride ourselves in providing our clients with the latest and best in tennis court construction and resurfacing. We are licensed, bonded and insured, and can install a new court or repair your older worn court, making the surface look and perform like new again.
Hard courts have speed and require little or low maintenance. As long as you keep the court free of debris and wash it occasionally you are ‘good to go’. If there are any downsides to hard courts, they can be too fast and they reflect heat and can get hot. We can adjust the court speed to your preferences and you can choose the color to minimize glare and heat.
If you are looking to improve your existing tennis court, look no further. Taylor Tennis Courts can repair and renovate your existing court with crack repair and resurfacing. Let us improve your court and the surrounding area by painting fences, setting up wind screens, placing benches and installing courtside lighting. Let us be your source for all your tennis court accessories. We sell nets, ball machines, scoring equipment, ball sweepers, rol-dri, or water brooms, and we can advise you on the best products in the industry.
We offer free tennis court resurfacing quotes, and service hours can be scheduled anytime- evenings and weekends. Taylor Tennis Courts is a premier company in tennis court construction and resurfacing in Southern California. Contact us for a quote on your tennis court construction project.