If you’re a tennis player or just a beginner who’s interested in the game, you may not have thought too much about the court you’re playing. As it turns out, the tennis court is quite fascinating. Here are some fun facts about the famous tennis court.
The court’s surface has quite a lot of substances that it can be made from. You can find clay courts, carpet courts, grass courts, concrete courts, and asphalt courts, just to name a few. I will go into further details later in this article.
So how big is a tennis court?
The dimensions are regulated by the ITF. The court must be a rectangle, and have the length of 78 feet or 23.77 meters. For a singles match, the court’s width is 27 feet or 8.23 meters, and doubles has a width of 36 feet or 10.97 meters.
Interesting stuff, right? Now, let’s look at that net.
The net serves as an obstacle in the tennis game, and there’s a lot of thought put in that net. The tennis net is usually, at the posts, 3.5 high, or 1.07 meters. In the center, it’s 3 feet, or .91 metres. The bond drags the tennis net down in the center. The posts keep the net up, so let’s look at them next.
The Net’s Posts
A tennis net’s posts are also quite interesting. The net itself must fill all the space between the two posts and the net has to have meshes that are tight and won’t allow the ball to fit through. If you’re playing a doubles game the posts are located 3 feet or .91 meters from the doubles lines. A singles game has to be placed the same distance but outside the singles lines instead.
Whenever you’re playing a game and you’re using a net for the doubles the posts have to be 3.5 feet or 1.07 meters high, and you must place them 3 feet or .91 meters from the singles lines.
We’ve mentioned the lines, so let’s talk about the lines of the court, shall we?
Tennis lines are an important part of the game, but what is the purpose of each of them? Well, the last line on the side is called the back line or the baseline. The lines you see on the sides are called, surprise surprise, sidelines.
A service line is on both sides of a tennis court and it’s between the sidelines and parallel to where the net is. The service line can be found 21 feet or 6.4 meters from the net.
Between the service line and net, it’s divided into two parts, making the service boxes.
First, we have the baseline, divided in half. The mark it’s divided by is four inches or 10 centimeters in and it’s parallel to those sidelines. Then, we have the middle service line which is 2 inches or 5 centimeters wide. Any other line has to be between 1-2 inches or 2.5-5 centimeters wide and the baseline is not wider than 4 inches or 10 centimeters. The lines have to be the same color too.
When it comes to advertising, no ads are allowed near the court, posts or net.
For children’s courts, the field sizes are a bit different. They play on of course a smaller court and the balls are slower making the game safer and easier for them.
There are two colors for children’s courts, red and orange. A red court is for children under 8 years of age, while an orange court is under 10.
An orange court is between 58 and 60 feet and 20 and 27 feet, while the net height is between 31.5 inches and 33 inches. For the red court, it’s between 36-42 feet and 14-20 feet wide, and the net’s height is 31.5-36 inches.
The spectators, seats, ball boys, and the umpires are permanent fixtures of the court, and different surfaces are used for different locations, but if the court is indoors, any surface will suffice.
Now you know the ins and outs of a tennis court let's look a bit more at the playing surfaces.
What’s the Difference Between Grass, Hard and Clay Courts?
In tennis, courts have different surfaces. While there are more than you may think, there are three main surfaces that are used: grass, hard, and clay. Is there a difference between the surfaces? If you’d read about the history of tennis championships, you may have discovered that some players excelled on one surface, but failed on another. Is it just confirmation bias, or is there a difference? Let’s look at each surface and find out.
A grass court is made of grass, usually artificial. In the Wimbledon Championship, a tournament that’s on July and is played by some of the biggest names in tennis, they use grass surfaces.
Is there any difference between them? Well, a grass surface tends to be much faster than the others. Grass is slippery and soft, giving the ball a low, and sometimes unpredictable, bounce.
The unpredictablity tends to be because of the unevenness of the surface. However, the ball moves at a faster pace, and if you’re a player who has a good serve, and plays at the net, you can excel in grass surfaces.
Hard surfaces consist of asphalt, concrete, or any other surface that is solid. Hard surfaces are easy when it comes to maintenance and are the most common as they are cheap and easy to upkeep.
In the hard court, a ball will be slower than on grass, but move faster compared to a clay court. Since the surface is hard, the ball is going to bounce high, and in a predictable matter.
The ITF, or International Tennis Federation, declared the hard court the best court for any kind of player. It’s the happy medium between clay and grass, and it is good for any play style. The balance makes it a completely even way of playing, according to the ITF, but not all players agree.
Some players and experts claim that hard tennis courts are biased towards serving and baseline players, as the surface is fast and gives the ball a good balance.
Finally, we look at the clay courts. These tend to be deep red in color, and are used by the French Open Championships.
When you think of clay, you tend to think of it slowing your moving down, and that’s what it does. The clay surface means a slow ball speed, slow skid, and a high bounce.
The clay surface thus makes it easy to return shots. Pete Sampras, a legendary player who is good with hard and grass surfaces, could never win the clay surfaces of the French Open Championship due to him being a volley and serve player. Instead clay courts are good for baseline and heavy spin players. See a list of past winners here.
So the next time someone says they lost a game because of court’s surface being different, their excuse may be valid. Tennis courts come with a variety of pros and cons and if you want to be good at the game you need to learn them all as much as possible.