why are tennis courts different materials?


Pro basketball always on wood. Pro football (US) mostly on grass. Why do tennis surfaces vary so much?

Or is it just green clay sometimes?

In: 99

It comes down to what is easily available and, more importantly, what is easier and cheaper to maintain.

Historically, all courts were grass. That was the natural surface available. However, in order to have a playable grass surface, it needs a *lot* of maintenance. You need the right kind of grass (and soil), and it constantly has to be mowed and kept up to standard in order to have consistency. The grass will deteriorate as the match our tournament goes on, and takes longer to dry out after rain.

Clay courts were a great alternative, especially in environments which were less favourable to maintaining grass courts (Europe, South America). With advances in materials and manufacturing, hard courts became more feasible and are commonly used for purpose-made arenas. Grass courts are maintained more out of tradition.

In contrast, football is always on grass because it is normally the most versatile surface for the sport. The quality and condition of the grass is not important, as the majority of the sport involves running and the interaction of the ball with the grass is not as important. Artificial surfaces were introduced to reduce the maintenance associated with grass. Basketball was invented to make use of gymnasiums that were already built (with wooden floors), and “pro” basketball always uses courts that are made to a specified standard. Unlike tennis – advances in technology haven’t shown a need to change the playing surface.

Tennis is a sport with a lot of heritage and the old way is playing on meticulously maintained clay courts. However, that’s not always practical so concrete or rubberized courts are used.

Also, in terms of football, most, if not all, NFL leagues play on astroturf. And in basketball you have courts that the flooring sits immediately on top of a concrete foundation and you have “raised” courts that are suspended above the concrete, giving them different levels of bounce.

There are indeed green clay courts, as well as things like carpet and wood courts! Other posters have answered your question better than I could, but I feel like the [tennis court Wikipedia page](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_court) can give you more info on the different surfaces as well as benefits and drawbacks for each type.


I think its a tournament in Madrid they have blue clay and it makes for some amazing photos as the players slide on the clay.

It allows players of varying playstyles to come to light. E.g. Clay is bad for players who rely on powerful serves because of how the ball bounces off it

There are practical reasons that probably informed the initial reasons for having different court materials.

But regardless of practical concerns, its now just an aspect of the sport because these surfaces react differently to play, to the extent that professional players have specialized in and developed reputations around playing on those materials.

For example, Roger Federer (Grass) and Rafael Nadal (Clay) were considered near-unbeatable on their respective surface and there had long been debate over which was truly better if somehow that court material factor was neutralized. Hence the [‘Battle of the Surfaces’](https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/rafael-nadal-of-spain-in-action-against-roger-federer-of-switzerland-picture-id74050435?s=2048×2048), a gimmick tournament with a tennis court made of half clay and half grass so each side could play on their favorite surface.

It was a bit of a disaster, which if your interested I’d suggest [this video.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roVT7NJJh5g)

>Pro basketball always on wood.

Japan is years ahead on that.


So they do vary a lot but the main types are red clay, hard court, and grass. Clay magnifies any spin on the ball and slows the game down which encourages longer rallies and a more strategic game with better footwork. Grass is the fastest so huge serves and volley games play the best there. Hard court is in the middle. Grass is the hardest to maintain followed by red clay and hard court takes practically no effort. The green clay is called hard tru it’s for people who want clay but don’t want to spend the money to build and maintain red clay.

Hope this helps!

Source: played and coached tennis for 10 years

Also recognize this evolved out of [real tennis](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_tennis) for going outside. So I think the surface was less important for lawn tennis.