Tennis is one of the most popular sports played worldwide on an array of courts that have different features, culminating in a different approach and style to each one. Each court type has different characteristics which affects the players style of play and natural ability. This change in ability and style is one of the features that makes tennis so popular all year round across the globe. The International Tennis Federation classifies each individual surface differently based on the speed of the surface varying from one to five, one being the slowest of the court types and five being the fastest. The four main types of surface are grass, hard, clay and artificial grass.
Grass courts are the traditional lawn tennis surface with the longest history, most famously being the signature court of Wimbledon, arguably the most famous of the Grand Slams. Due to its tough and constant maintenance to keep it in tip top condition, you don’t actually see grass courts used too much. The professional grass season is usually just before the start of Wimbledon and lasts four weeks, comparatively short to the rest of the seasons. The main events that take place prior to Wimbledon are Eastbourne, Halle in Germany, Birmingham and Queens.
Grass as a surface plays very fast with a low bouncing ball, this generally keeps the rallies fairly short, however, in recent times due to the progression in tennis and abilities, top players have been able to play on grass producing some long rallies. The main aim on grass is for the players to get to the ball quicker than they would on other courts such as clay and hard and hit the ball early. This is why serve and volley players used to dominate on grass, the serve is a key part of the game as it moves faster and stays lower and if you can keep the return off the canvas you stand a better chance of winning the point.
Clay courts on the other hand are made of crushed shale, brick and stone, which slows the ball down to produce a slow and high bounce compared to the other surfaces. Conversely to grass courts the high bounce and slow ball makes for longer rallies and is usually more suited to baseline players who like to play tactically using spin and playing for tight angles. Due to the slower moving ball and higher bounce, this takes many of the advantages away from the big servers and gives the advantage to the returner, this is why we have seen such domination from Rafael Nadal on Clay over the last 15 years. The French Open is the most famous clay court competition and Nadal has won it thirteen times.
Rather self evidently, hard courts are made from uniformed, rigid materials that feature an acrylic surface layers. Hard courts are probably the most popular court type worldwide as it is seen as a good all round court type for all types of players and offers more consistency to the other outdoor surfaces. This is why two of the Grand Slams are played on hard courts, the US Open and Australian Open. There are a few types of hard materials that can be used to make a hard court, which can slightly affect the speed of the ball, however, as a rule of thumb, they generally move faster than clay but not as fast as grass. The US Open is played on an acrylic hard court while the Australian Open is played on a synthetic surface.
Artificial Grass / Carpet
This is a synthetic surface that has the appearance of grass and plays the most similar to it. The ball will move quicker and generally keep low, allowing for spin. This is generally a court type that is most used for people learning to play tennis as it is easy to keep in good condition and allows the player to learn on a basic court type. No Grand Slams are played on this court type, it is more suited to tennis clubs around the globe.
There are other court types like concrete and asphalt, however, they are used less around the globe.
Here at 1st Option, we are lucky enough to represent some of the most incredible shoot locations around the country featuring some magnificent tennis courts fit for kings. Check out Poulton Farm featuring a glorious carpet court with stunning views of the surrounding grounds, Weald Manor similarly featuring a carpet court with some lovely views and Somerley in Hampshire, that has the type of stunning grass court you won’t see too often.