Lawn Tennis – Basic Information
Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racquet.
Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface, usually grass, clay, a hardcourt of concrete, and/or asphalt and occasionally carpet (indoor). The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long, and 27 feet (8.23 m) wide for singles matches and 36 ft (10.97 m) for doubles matches.Additional clear space around the court is required in order for players to reach overrun balls. 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.The net posts are 3 feet (0.914 m) outside the doubles court on each side or, for a singles net, 3 feet (0.914 m) outside the singles court on each side.
There are five types of court surface used in professional play. Each surface is different in the speed and height of the bounce of the ball.
- Examples are red clay, used at the French Open, and green clay (an example of which is Har-Tru and used mainly in the U.S.). Almost all red clay courts are made not of natural clay but of crushed brick that is packed to make the court. The crushed brick is then covered with a topping of other crushed particles. This type of surface does not absorb water easily and is the most common in Europe and Latin America.Clay courts normally have a slower paced ball and a fairly true bounce with more spin.
- Examples of hardcourts are acrylic (e.g. Plexicushion used at the Australian Open, DecoTurf used at the US Open, GreenSet used at the ATP World Tour Finals), asphalt, and concrete. Hardcourts typically have a faster-paced ball with a very true bounce and it is the predominant surface type used on the professional tour.
- Grass courts usually have a faster-paced ball, and a more erratic bounce. Grass is used at Wimbledon and until 1974 three of the four Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open) were played on grass. In 2001 Wimbledon changed the type of grass to make the courts more durable and thus better able to withstand the wear of the modern game. The new grass causes the ball to bounce higher and slows it down compared to the previous grass type
- Any form of removable court covering, including carpeting and artificial turf. The bounce can be higher or lower than a hard court. Carpet surface has not been used on the ATP and WTA tour since 2009.
- Popular from the 1880s through the first half of the 20th century, wooden surface provides a very low bounce and plays very fast. There are no longer any professional tournaments held on a wooden surface although some tournaments (e.g. Rotterdam Open and Open Sud de France), are played on a wood-based court with an acrylic layer on top.