View Full Version : Whats it REALLY like to play ona clay court?

Apr 11th, 2003, 08:44 PM
I am part of a grass court tennis club so normally play there but I have also played on hard and indoors but NEVER clay. I was wondering if anybody could describe the differences to these surfaces.
I know the obvious things like its slower and the grip on your shoes when you run is different so you can slide but do you change a part of your game when you play on it like lenght of strokes? Also any details about it would be interesting as I may get the opportunity to play on clay this summer.

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:05 PM
Since Clay is slower, you have to be more patient at the baseline and wait for the right time to go for your shots. Also, the ball needs to stay deeper or else

E. Blackadder
Apr 11th, 2003, 09:08 PM
If your not patient, you will overhit the ball a lot. Timing is very important here, not too quick not too slow

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:15 PM
How high does the ball bounce on clay or is it very different for each court? I was wondering if a good slice backhand would stay as low as on grass.

E. Blackadder
Apr 11th, 2003, 09:17 PM
If the courts are in good condition your slice will bounce a little higher, but not much. If the courts are bad your slice will either bounce high or will not bounce at all and drop dead (like on court in my club :o)

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:21 PM
I found that all of my shots were a bit better on clay. You have more time to position yourself correctly when hitting the ball. You have to try it sometimes.

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:27 PM
I was going to ask how evenly flat they are but I suppose this again depends on the quality of court. On our grass courts they are very uneven so if you keep hitting the same spot the ball will drop dead each time. Very useful!! Also (sorry to be so annoying) how lose is the clay on top? I mean does it move if its dusty or kind of gather up in to small piles. I think this because when players slide you see the clay move and leave marks. I must sound very stupid but I've never even seen one before except on television.

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:41 PM
I still hit the ball hard on clay. I just add more spin to both my fore hand and backhand. Because of the weight of my shots, it leads me to the net a lot. I can't go to the net on clay a lot but i still try to serve-volley at times. I still win, but not as easily as I do on hard courts.I guess that's the challange. To not change your game too much on the different surfaces.

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:48 PM
I played twice on the red clay, and I had a lot of trouble, cause the ball bounces quit high, so I was always in trouble positioning myself. However moving on the clay was a great feeling! :)

Apr 11th, 2003, 09:51 PM
I would love to play on a clay court, we have gravel courts near by and I love sliding around on them!!! I bet clay is even better.

Apr 11th, 2003, 11:29 PM
I have played on green clay before and outside the fact I had problems sliding, I always thought it was similar to a hard court in terms of how the ball bounces.

Now I live in California so perhaps the lack of moisture used to contribute to why I never thought it was any different than a hard court.

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:13 AM
Plus if it hits the line, watch out! That ball is gonna bounce wacky because the lines is much more harder than it is on a hard court.

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:29 AM
I lived in California all my life and always wondered what clay and grass would be like to play on. I have now lived in South Florida for 15 months and play on clay exclusively.

Guess what?...except for my body feeling better after a match, there is very little difference between green clay and hardcourts. Very little. But thats just me, I guess.


darren cahill
Apr 12th, 2003, 12:33 AM
I played twice on the red clay, and I had a lot of trouble, cause the ball bounces quite high, so I was always in trouble positioning myself. However moving on the clay was a great feeling! :)

I agree with you too...i played on clay only a few times thinking it would suit me more as i am a bit slower than most of those i play against and felt like it would give me more time but damn those balls bounced so high i was hitting shots at shoulder level...but if i tried to take it early i over hit and it went long and if i moved inside the baseline, i over hit, if i moved back further, my opponets hit it short and i was too far back to do anything...it was a disaster all around...the only time i lost 60 60 was on clay!

i wanted to agree with Mark (cause i secretly love him) but i think theres a world of difference from hard to green clay...at least for me there is.

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:38 AM
There's only one thing you MUST have in you are going to play on a clay court: patience. You have to be willing to just put the ball inside and wait for the other to make a mistake.
I've always played on clay courts, but i really have a lack of patience, I only want to hit winners :rolleyes: .

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:42 AM
I play on red clay here in New York -- there are wonderful red clay courts here -- it takes a lot of work to keep them in such good condition -- the ball does bounce a lot higher, good footwork really pays off, and rallies go on longer. I lived in New Orleans for a year and played a lot on green clay -- the bounce is less even, the ball takes funny skids, and generally the play is more like a fast-moving hard court -- that's my experience, at least. I love playing on clay, it suits my game, because I like to scramble and get a lot of balls bac and it's harder to overpower me on that surface.

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:43 AM
And what is the diff between red clay and green clay?

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:44 AM
I've never played on clay either...just curious how the surface compares to hard courts for beginners. Like if it's harder for someone to play the game as a beginner on clay, hardcourts or both are pretty much the same.

Apr 12th, 2003, 01:10 AM
i play on clay often when i am in the Caribbean. the clay there is not the same as the terre battue. it's more like playing on sand. the bounce is higher and power shots are not as effective as on a hardcourt. your power tends to get muted on clay and rallies last longer bec you have more of a chance to actually get to the ball -- as does your opponent! i always get beaten by these old guys who play with finesse and spin bec i was raised on hardcourts and play more of a power game. it's quite humbling to hit my Steffi-imitation forhand only to see it coming back at me in the form of a drop-shot.

you get a major workout playing on clay. it's a terrific way to get into condition as a tennis player. and it's also kinder to your knees. ;) ;)

Apr 12th, 2003, 03:34 AM
in my experiences, the red clay seems to be a lot more loose and slower. the green is better packed down. i have only played on red clay twice, so correct me if i am wrong.

Sam L
Apr 12th, 2003, 03:40 AM
I want to play on green clay but alas we have none of those in Australia :(

Mateo Mathieu
Apr 12th, 2003, 04:20 AM
Red Clay... :rolleyes: Last December, I remember first time play on this surface when the weather was really hot but more hotter when you go on the surface! :eek:

And suprising, I'm very good at this surface than I play regular on fake grass! :o LOL! After that day, I never play on it again.

Apr 12th, 2003, 04:45 AM
from appearances the red clay does seem alot looser than the green but I didn't know if that was because of the weather and the rain etc....

Apr 12th, 2003, 12:31 PM
This has made me wanna try clay more and more now.
Of those of you who have played on clay, grass and hard (if there are any), what is you're fave surface and why?

E. Blackadder
Apr 12th, 2003, 12:38 PM
My fav surface is indoor/hardcourt because it suits my game better, but in the neighbourhood we can only play on clay. I like clay too tho :)

Apr 13th, 2003, 05:27 AM
The game is a little slower, but that's pretty much compensated for with the use of clay balls, which are a tad lighter.

You do slide on clay, and it takes a while to get used to doing that, and actually making it part of your strategy.

Additionally, it's easier to hit balls that don't come up, because once you learn how to do it, you can make them skid on the clay. However, your opponent will learn to do this before you do, and you will stand there with a stupid look on your face when you completely miss the ball, and can't figure out why.

Longer matches, or poorly maintained courts will produce "sand traps." These are little divots in the surface that will irritate the hell out of you when the ball hits one and bounces over your head. This generally occurs when your opponent has hit a soft grapefruit that you're moving in to hit a kill shot on.

The lines are actually tape that is nailed into the clay. 3,000 nails per court is the average. One would think that's enough to hold the tape down, but sure enough, the tape does manage to come up a bit, and if the ball hits it, it will bounce over your head. This usually occurs when you're facing match point, and your opponent serves a slow but deep serve that you know you can hit a winner off of to stay in the match.

It takes about 3 days to get all the clay particles out of your tennis shoes. Mostly, this is accomplished without your knowledge, and usually on the most expensive (and lightest colored) carpet in your house. Conversely, you will feel the clay that's on the INSIDE of your shoes for the next 12 weeks, mostly under your heel, and especially when you land hard on it.