Tennis court: Wikis


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Indoor tennis courts at the University of Bath, England

A tennis court is where the game of tennis is played. It is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the center. The same surface can be used to play both doubles and singles.



The dimensions of a tennis court.

Tennis is played on a rectangular flat surface, usually of grass, clay, concrete (hard court) or a synthetic suspended court. The court is 78 feet (23.78 m) long, 39 feet on a side. Its width is 27 feet (8.23 m) for singles matches and 36 feet (10.97 m) for doubles matches.[1] The service line is 21 feet (6.40 m) from the net.[1] Additional clear space around the court is needed in order for players to reach overrun balls for a total of 60 feet (18.3 m) wide and 120 feet (36.7 m) long. A net is stretched across the full width of the court, parallel with the baselines, dividing it into two equal ends. The net is 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) high at the posts, and 3 feet (0.914 m) high in the center.[2]


A North/South orientation is desirable for outdoor courts to avoid background glare at dawn or dusk.

Types of tennis courts

See also: Tennis#Surface

There are four main types of courts depending on the materials used for the court surface: clay courts, hard courts, grass courts and carpet courts. Each playing surface has its own characteristics which affect the playing style of the game.

Of the Grand Slam tournaments, the U.S. Open and Australian Open use hardcourts (though both used grass courts in the past, and the U.S. Open also used clay courts from 1975 through 1977), the French Open is played on clay (though it too was played on grass before 1928), and Wimbledon is played on grass.


Clay courts

Clay courts are made of crushed shale, stone or brick. The red clay is slower than the green, Har-Tru, "North-American" clay. The French Open uses clay courts, unlike the other three Grand Slam tournaments of each year.

Clay courts slow down the ball and produce a high bounce[citation needed] when compared to grass courts or hard courts. This is because clay courts have more grab and when the ball lands there is more friction pushing against the ball's horizontal path, therefore slowing it and creating a higher bounce. For this reason, the clay court takes away some advantage of big serves, which makes it hard for serve-based players to dominate on the surface.

Clay courts are cheaper to construct than other types of tennis courts, but the maintenance costs of a clay surface are higher than those of hard courts. Clay courts need to be rolled to preserve flatness. The clay's water content must be balanced; green courts generally require the courts to be sloped[citation needed] to allow water run-off.

Clay courts are more common in Europe and Latin America than in North America and tend to heavily favor baseline players.

Grass courts

Grass courts are the fastest type of courts in common use (AstroTurf is faster but is primarily only used for personal courts). They consist of grass grown on very hard-packed soil, which adds an additional variable: bounces depend on how healthy the grass is, how recently it has been mown, and the wear and tear of recent play. Points are usually very quick where fast, low bounces keep rallies short, and the serve plays a more important role than on other surfaces. Grass courts tend to favor serve-and-volley tennis players, such as John McEnroe and Pete Sampras among men and Martina Navratilova among women. The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., comprises grass courts. The surface is less firm and more slippery than hard courts, causing the ball to slide and bounce lower, and so players must reach the ball faster. Serve-and-volley players take advantage of the surface by serving the ball (usually a slice serve because of its effectiveness on grass) and then running to the net to cut off the return of serve, leaving their opponent with little time to reach the low-bouncing, fast-moving ball. Players often hit flatter shots to increase power and allow the ball to travel faster after and before the ball hits the ground.

However, Wimbledon, the most famous grass tournament, slowed down its grass courts as recently as 2001. Players have said that the courts of Wimbledon have become slower, heavier, and high bouncing.[3] In 2001, Wimbledon organizers had changed the grass to 100% perennial rye in addition to changing to a harder and denser soil with both providing for a higher bounce to the ball. Grass specialist Tim Henman spoke out against this change in 2002, stating "What on earth is going on here? I'm on a grass court and it's the slowest court I've played on this year".[4] As a result, serving and volleying has become rare at Wimbledon and dominant baseliners such as Roger Federer have won the most recent titles.

Grass courts were once among the most common tennis surfaces, but are now rare due to high maintenance costs, as they must be watered and mown often, and take a longer time to dry after rain than hard courts. For a more extensive discussion of the skills most advantageous on grass court, see grass-court specialist.

Hard courts

Rooftop Tennis Courts in Downtown Singapore

Hard courts (usually made of asphalt) are very fast types of tennis courts, where fast hard-hitting players have a slight advantage. Hard courts can vary in speed; they are faster than clay but not as fast as grass courts. Depending on the amount of sand added to the paint the amount the ball slows down can vary greatly.[5] These courts are considered the most equal for all playing styles. The U.S. Open is played on an acrylic hard court, while the Australian Open is played on a synthetic hard court. The main difference between a synthetic hard court and a true hard court surface is the level of hardness. When the ball bounces on this surface it is faster than all other surfaces if there is not much sand in the top paint. The amount of sand used in the top paint and the size of the sand also determines the speed – more sand means less speed and larger sand particles will slow the speed of play. The amount of friction can also be altered and more friction will produce a clay court effect, where topspin is magnified. The extra grip and friction will resist the sliding effect of the ball and the resistance will force the ball to change its rotation. The extra grip provided by the surface can resist the movement of the player and can cause injury.

Carpet courts

Carpet is a tennis term for any removable court covering. A short form of articial turf weighted with sand is common in Asia. Indoor arenas store rolls of rubber-backed court surfacing and install it temporarily for tennis events.

Indoor courts

The same surface will play faster indoors than outdoors. Hard courts are most common indoors. Slower, higher bouncing rubberized surfaces are used for a cushioned feel. Clay courts are installed indoors with underground watering systems. Barnstorming professionals played on canvas laid over wooden basketball courts up to the 1960's.

Smaller courts

The ITF campaign Play and Stay aims to increase tennis participation worldwide, by improving the way beginners are introduced to the game. The campaign promotes playing on smaller courts with slower red, orange and green balls. This gives players more time and control so that they can serve, rally and score (play the game) from the first lesson.[6]


Common tennis court terms:

  • Ad court (short for "advantage court"): the left side of the receiving team, the right side of the opponent's court as viewed from the server's side, significant as the receiving side for an Ad point.
  • Alley (Tramlines): the zone between the single court and the doubles court, one on the Ad side, one on the Deuce side. These are only used when playing doubles.
  • Back court ('No man's land'): the area between the baseline and the service line. It is not recommended to play in this area because this is where balls usually bounce.
  • Baseline: The line dividing the "out" area from the "in" area made up of the back line of the back court and the small back side of the alleys.
  • Center line: The line dividing the two service boxes.
  • Center mark: The 12-inch mark at the halfway point of the baseline used to distinguish the two halves (and service boxes) of a tennis court.
  • Deuce court: the right side of the receiving team, the left side of the opponent's court as viewed from the server's side, significant as the receiving side for a deuce point.
  • Middle T: See T.
  • Service box: is made up of the singles boundary and the closest line that runs parallel with the net. There is a left and right service box that is divided by the line running down the center of the court.
  • Service line: the line that is parallel to the net and is located between the baseline and the net. It marks the end of the service boxes.
  • Side T: The T shape formed by the service line and the sideline. There are two such side Ts.
  • T or Middle T: The T shape formed by the service line and the center line.


External links


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