Tennis: Courts and Equipment

Debbie Welsh displaying proper tennis equipment during active play.

Donna Gillen

Summer is almost over here in PebbleCreek. Maybe it’s time to review equipment, safety, and court composition for tennis lovers and those interested in the world of tennis. This article will briefly explain proper equipment needs to make your game better, or easier, and the types of courts used world-wide.

The French Open and Wimbledon recently completed their 2021 tournaments. If you were watching these events, you may have noticed that at the French Open, clay courts were used, and at Wimbledon, grass courts were the standard. In the U.S., our tournaments are played mainly on hard courts. The hard court is usually considered a good surface for all types of players. It is a good compromise between the other types of courts. Hard courts are made from asphalt or concrete, usually layered with an acrylic surface. They are the easiest to maintain. The International Tennis Federation prefers this court, as it is more predictable for playing. Grass courts, on the other hand, are for the fastest playing. The court is slippery, and the ball has a lower bounce. The bounce also is very unpredictable due to the uneven surface. Rallies are relatively short on this type of court. On a clay court, the surface makes the slowest speed for a ball, skid is slow, and the ball bounces higher. Clay courts are best for baseline players. One noticeable trick players use is the slide factor, versus an abrupt stop. While watching a clay court tournament, you may notice the player almost uses a slalom-like skid. Clay courts are also easier on the body; this surface can absorb more shock. Clay courts provide a more unique challenge, i.e., changing direction is quite difficult.

Now when playing, tennis equipment is very important. First and foremost, a good quality racquet is a high priority. The grip size, head size, balance point, and string tension are just a few of the necessary features to consider. Your shoes can be detrimental to playing in so many ways. One of the most important concerns is the type of shoe, more important than the racquet. Tennis or court shoes are a requirement. Most injuries occur because the wrong shoes are worn. Tennis shoes are designed to move laterally, running shoes are not! Also, replacing shoes regularly helps reduce injuries. Moving around the court with flexibility and proper grip should be considered foremost when selecting your shoes. When playing tennis, make sure that the apparel you don is comfortable and wicks away perspiration (due to the Arizona heat). Some other optional, but important, items are a wristband to help support your wrist from shock during contact with the ball, sunglasses and a hat or visor to protect eyes from the sun’s glare, water bottle, sunscreen, and a towel. Finally, play with new balls. Older balls can be hard on your shoulders, wrist, and arms.

Hopefully, this article will get you ready to return to the courts safely and in style. Enjoy these last few days of the Arizona summer.