Tennis is a game of strategy and finesse, which means that the type of tennis court surface you play on can make all the difference. You may not think about it too much when you head to your local court for an afternoon match, but there are actually four different types of tennis surfaces: clay courts, hard courts, grass courts, and carpet courts. All have their own unique characteristics that will affect how well your shots travel!
The Four Types of Tennis Court Surfaces
The first type of tennis court surface is clay. Clay courts are made up of crushed brick, shale, or stone mixed with sand. This type of surface is soft and slow to play on because it absorbs moisture readily. On clay courts, tennis balls tend to bounce more slowly. The good news for clay-court players is that their opponents will have a harder time digging very low shots out of the clay and that they can use a variety of spins to alter how their shot travels.
Hard tennis court surfaces are made up of very tightly packed crushed stones (usually granite or quartz), which give great durability for outdoor play. The downside is that hard courts tend to generate more heat than other surfaces, and it takes longer for the balls to bounce. Playing on hard courts is also very strenuous, which makes it difficult for players who are not well-conditioned to last long matches or multiple sets. They also require more intensive tennis court repair.
Grass courts are made up of crushed white clover and ryegrasses that have been mowed so close they feel like velvet when you play on them. Grass courts are soft and slow, but they can also be fairly unpredictable when it comes to how balls will bounce. One of the most famous grass court tournaments is Wimbledon!
Carpet courts are a tennis court surface type that has a low pile that absorbs less water than clay surfaces do, which means players have more time between points to catch their breath—a definite benefit for those who are already feeling the burn of a hard court match. Carpet courts also provide more support to players’ bodies, making them less likely to hurt themselves while running around after shots that would have bounced out on other surfaces.
Don’t have room in your yard for a court? Read about the benefits of rooftop tennis courts.