Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How to win on clay courts

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Online Store Manager
It's the end of another exciting French Open where as expected underdogs, such as Lucie Safarova and Stan Wawrinka, rose among a sea of upsets by defeating past Open Champions, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer, along the way to the finals. Even the domineering Serena Williams struggled to fight for the title on the red clay (and maybe due to a little cold). Nevertheless, the question is raised every year, 'Why do the top seeds in tennis perform poorly on clay?' Many players already understand that you need to adjust to the slower court surface, but many still don't know exactly how to adjust.

In northeast Ohio we don't see that many red clay courts. In fact, there's only one red clay court facility in the entire State of Ohio (Perry Twp). What we do find a lot of are Har-Tru courts, which are green clay versus the red clay we see at the French Open. The main difference between the two is that the speed and height difference of Har-Tru is not as extreme as it would be on red clay, because of the layer of crushed stone on the surface. However, both clay surfaces call for a game adjustment in order to win and this is how you do just that:
  • Play in the right shoes. Clay is a slippery surface and if you were playing on red clay, it would be imperative that you find clay court shoes to help with traction. However, with Har-Tru all you need is to find a pair of All-Court tennis shoes that are in good condition (so ditch those worn-smoothed soles). To help you, we have a huge selection to choose from at towpathtennisshop.com
  • Be patient! The pace is considerably slower than playing on hard courts and it's quite tempting to rush your shots. To help counter that urge, go back to the basics and as the ball approaches tell yourself, "bounce, hit." It may sound mundane and tedious, but it helps you focus and maintain a proper rhythm.
  • Use topspin. Why you may ask? It makes the ball bounce that much higher! Higher bounce=more difficult to return, not to mention tiresome!
  • Learn to slide. Har-Tru is not as slippery as red clay, but it sure is slicker than a hard court. 
  • Buckle in for longer rallies. Guess what? Those winners you make on hard courts will be easier for your opponent to get to on clay, so be ready to tire your opponent out by mixing up the shots and moving them around the court. 
  • Practice ahead of time. Even if you've played on clay before, it helps to warm-up ahead of time to get a feel of the court since most clay surfaces don't play the same. 
  • Check a bad call. Don't you always wish to have video replay on those points your opponent called out but looked clearly in? On clay you can! It may not be a video replay, but the ball may leave a distinctive mark that you can double check for yourself. Cheaters beware! 
  • Prepare to get dirty! Playing on clay can be downright filthy, so if you're fussing about keeping those sparkling white tennis shoes clean then clay is not your game. And unless you want to be coated green from head to toe, watch out for sliding into those lines that like to bubble up!
So there you have it, all the tips you need to be the next King/Queen of Clay-Nadal you've been warned!

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  1. To win a tennis match we need to use good techniques and plans. Apart from strength techniques are also very essential, without game plan we can't defeat the competitor. But tennis courts are also playing an essential role in our winning era; as players are able to play in synthetic courts only; therefore it is little tough to deal with clay courts. But a professional can eligible to go for every odd situation, thanks for such a wonderful article which describe some facts about clay courts.
    Tennis Courts

  2. To win a tennis match we need to use good techniques and plans. You have shared some good plans to play tennis in a clay court. Thanks for your tips.