A game of tennis, just like any other professionally played game wouldn’t be complete without the surface upon which it’s played. Each surface plays a valuable role in the game as it is a determinant of the flow of the entire game.
Normally all tennis courts are rectangular in shape with a length of 78 feet (23.77 meters) and a width of 27 feet (8.23 meters). There is also an additional space of 60 feet (18 meters) from the net surrounding the court for the players to reach overrun balls.
There are four major types of tennis surfaces namely:
Clay courts as the name suggests are a product of crushed brick, shale or stone. They produce a high bounce of the ball as compared to grass courts; they also slow down the ball. Server-based players find it hard to dominate on a clay-based surface as this takes away most of the advantages of big serves. They are also cheaper to construct but harder to maintain. They are most common in Europe and Latin America. The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament to use clay courts.
Grass courts are of course made from grass grown on hard-packed soil which enables additional components. The ball will bounce depending on the maintenance of the soil. The serve plays a paramount role on the grass courts. Serve-and-volley tennis players are highly favoured on grass courts. In the past, grass courts were most commonly used but the high maintenance costs are making them less popular in this day and age. They are however the best surfaces to act as a buffer for the human body and do not cause as much constraint as other surfaces. The Australian Open, US Open and the Wimbledon have all used grass surfaces though this changed for the Australian and US Opens.
Hard Courts are made of tough and rigid materials which are covered by an acrylic layer for the purposes of bounce and consistency. They offer faster speeds than clay courts but slower than grass courts. The ball is slowed down depending on the quantity of the sand added to the paint. Currently, the Australian Open is played on Deco Turf while the US Open is played on Plexicushion which are both hard surfaces with an acrylic topping.
Carpet Courts are removable surfaces just as a carpet would be placed and removed from a surface. They are no longer used for professional tournaments but indoor arenas use these and remove them when a match is done. The carpet court offers a faster surface than a hard court and has a low bounce. Some of the tournaments played on carpets courts in the recent past include Paris Masters and US Pro Indoor.