Tennis court

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Indoor tennis courts at the University of Bath, England Universityofbath indoor tennis courts arp.jpg
Indoor tennis courts at the University of Bath, England

A tennis court is the venue where the sport of tennis is played. It is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the centre. The same surface can be used to play both doubles and singles matches. A variety of surfaces can be used to create a tennis court, each with its own characteristics which affect the playing style of the game.



The dimensions of a tennis court. Tennis court imperial.svg
The dimensions of a tennis court.

The dimensions of a tennis court are defined and regulated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) governing body and are written down in the annual 'Rules of Tennis' document. [1] The court is 78 ft (23.77 m) long. Its width is 27 ft (8.23 m) for singles matches and 36 ft (10.97 m) for doubles matches. [2] The service line is 21 ft (6.40 m) from the net. [2] Additional clear space around the court is needed in order for players to reach overrun balls for a total of 60 ft (18 m) wide and 120 ft (37 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 ft 6 in (1.07 m) high at the posts, and 3 ft (0.914 m) high in the center. [3] The net posts are 3 ft (0.914 m) outside the doubles court on each side or, for a singles net, 3 ft (0.914 m) outside the singles court on each side.

Based on the standard rules of tennis, the size of the court is measured to the outside of the respective baselines and sidelines. The "service" lines ("T" and the "service" line) are centered. The ball must completely miss the line to be considered "out". This also means that the width of the line (except for the center service line) is irrelevant to play. The center service line is 2 in (5 cm), the other lines are between 1 and 2 in (3 and 5 cm) wide, whereas the baseline may be up to 4 in (10 cm) wide. [1]

Smaller courts

The ITF's Play and Stay campaign promotes playing on smaller courts with slower red, orange, and green balls for younger children. This gives children more time and control so they can serve, rally, and score from the first lesson on courts that are sized to fit their bodies. The ITF has mandated that official competition for children aged 10 years and under should be played on "Orange" courts 18 m (59 ft) long by 6.4 m (21 ft) wide. Competition for children under 8 years is played on "Red" courts that are 11 m (36 ft) long and 5.5 m (18 ft) wide. The net is always 0.8 m high in the center. [4]


Tennis court in Petajavesi, Finland Petajavesi - tennis court.jpg
Tennis court in Petäjävesi, Finland

Tennis is played on a variety of surfaces and each surface has its own characteristics which affect the playing style of the game. 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. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) lists different surfaces and properties and classifies surfaces into one of five pace settings: [5]

Of the current four Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian and US Open use hard courts, the French Open is played on clay, and Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam to have always been played on the same surface, is played on grass. The Australian Open switched from grass to hard courts in 1988 and in its early years the French championship alternated between clay and sand/rubble courts. The US Open is the only major to have been played on three surfaces; it was played on grass from its inception until 1974, clay from 1975 until 1977 and hard courts since it moved from the West Side Tennis Club to the National Tennis Center in 1978.

ITF uses the following classification for tennis court surface types: [6]

Surface codeTypeDescription
A Acrylic Textured, pigmented, resin-bound coating
BArtificial claySynthetic surface with the appearance of clay
C Artificial grass Synthetic surface with the appearance of natural grass
D Asphalt Bitumen-bound aggregate
E Carpet Textile or polymeric material supplied in rolls or sheets of finished product
F Clay Unbound mineral aggregate
G Concrete Cement-bound aggregate
H Grass Natural grass grown from seed
JOtherE.g. modular systems (tiles), wood, canvas

Clay courts

The French Open is played on clay courts. ND DN 2006FO.jpg
The French Open is played on clay courts.

Clay courts are made of crushed shale, stone or brick. [7] The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament to use clay courts.

Clay courts slow down the ball and produce a high bounce in comparison to grass or hard courts. [7] For this reason, the clay court takes away many of the advantages 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 a clay surface costs more to maintain. Clay courts need to be rolled to preserve flatness. The clay's water content must be balanced; green clay courts generally require the courts to be sloped 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.

Historically for the Grand Slams clay courts have been used at the French Open since 1891 and the US Open from 1975 to 1977.

Grass courts

Grass court maintenance at Wimbledon London - Wimbledon - 3065.jpg
Grass court maintenance at Wimbledon

Grass courts are the fastest type of courts in common use. [7] They consist of grass grown on very hard-packed soil, which adds additional variables: bounces depend on how healthy the grass is, how recently it has been mowed, 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 favour serve-and-volley tennis players.

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.

Historically for the Grand Slams grass courts have been used at Wimbledon since 1877, the US Open from 1881 to 1974, and the Australian Open from 1905 to 1987.

Hard courts

Rooftop tennis hardcourts in Downtown Singapore RoofCourt.jpg
Rooftop tennis hardcourts in Downtown Singapore

Hard courts are made of uniform rigid material, often covered with an acrylic surface layer [7] to offer greater consistency of bounce than other outdoor surfaces. [8] Hard courts can vary in speed, though they are faster than clay but not as fast as grass courts. The quantity of sand added to the paint can greatly affect the rate at which the ball slows down. [9]

The US Open is played on Laykold while the Australian Open is played on GreenSet, both acrylic-topped hard court surfaces.

Historically for the Grand Slams hard courts have been used at the US Open since 1978 and the Australian Open since 1988.

Carpet courts

Artificial turf tennis courts in Nicosia, Cyprus Field club tennis courts in central old part of Nicosia Republic of Cyprus.jpg
Artificial turf tennis courts in Nicosia, Cyprus

"Carpet" in tennis means any removable court covering. [7] Indoor arenas store rolls of rubber-backed court surfacing and install it temporarily for tennis events, but they are not in use any more for professional events. A short piled form of artificial turf infilled with sand is used for some outdoor courts, particularly in Asia. Carpet is generally a fast surface, faster than hardcourt, with low bounce. [7]

Notable tennis tournaments previously held on carpet courts were the WCT Finals, Paris Masters, U.S. Pro Indoor and Kremlin Cup. Since 2009, their use has been discontinued on the top tier of the ATP. ATP Challenger Tour tournaments such as the Trofeo Città di Brescia still use carpet courts. The WTA Tour's last carpet court event, the International-level Tournoi de Québec, was discontinued after 2018.

Indoor courts

Some tennis courts are indoors, which allows play regardless of weather conditions and is more comfortable for spectators.

Different court surfaces have been used indoors. Hard courts are most common indoors, as they are the easiest to install and maintain. If the installation is permanent, they are constructed on an asphalt or concrete base, as with outdoor courts. Temporary indoor hard courts are typically constructed using wooden floor panels topped with acrylic which are installed over the venue's standard floor. This is the system used for modern indoor professional events such as the ATP Finals.

Clay courts can be installed indoors with subsurface watering systems to keep the clay from drying out, and have been used for Davis Cup matches.

Carpet courts were once the most prominent of indoor surfaces, especially in temporary venues, but have largely been replaced by removable hard courts. They were used on both the ATP World Tour and World Championship Tennis circuits, though no events currently use them.

Historically, other surfaces have been used indoors such as wood courts at the defunct World Covered Court Championships and London Indoor Professional Championships.

The conclusion of the Wimbledon Championships, in 2012, was played on the lawn of Centre Court under the closed roof and artificial lights; the Halle Open has also seen a number of matches played on its grass court in the Gerry Weber Stadion with the roof closed. These, however, are outdoor venues with retractable roofs.


Common tennis court terms:

See also

Related Research Articles

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Tennis is a racket sport that is played either individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent's court. The object of the game is to manoeuvre the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball validly will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

The Grand Slam in tennis is the achievement of winning all four major championships in one discipline in a calendar year. In doubles, a Grand Slam may be achieved as a team or as an individual with different partners. Winning all four major championships consecutively but not within the same calendar year is referred to as a "non-calendar-year Grand Slam", while winning the four majors at any point during the course of a career is known as a "Career Grand Slam".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ATP Finals</span> Tennis tournament

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hardcourt</span> Type of tennis court surface

A hardcourt is a surface or floor on which a sport is played, most usually in reference to tennis courts. It is typically made of rigid materials such as asphalt or concrete, and covered with acrylic resins to seal the surface and mark the playing lines, while providing some cushioning. Historically, hardwood surfaces were also in use in indoor settings, similar to an indoor basketball court, but these surfaces are rare now.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grass court</span> Type of tennis court

A grass court is one of the types of tennis court on which the sport of tennis, originally known as "lawn tennis", is played. Grass courts are made of grasses in different compositions depending on the tournament.

A point in tennis is the smallest subdivision of the match. A point can consist of a double fault by the server, in which case the point is automatically won by the receiver. In all other cases, a point begins when a legal serve is hit by the server to the receiver on the opposite side of the court, and continues until one side fails to legally return the ball to the opposite side. Whichever side fails to do so loses the point and their opponent wins it.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clay court</span> Type of tennis court

A clay court is one of the types of tennis court on which the sport of tennis is played. Clay courts are built on a foundation of crushed stone, brick, shale, and other aggregate, with a thin layer of fine clay particles on top. Clay courts are more common in Continental Europe and Latin America than in North America, Asia-Pacific or Britain. The only Grand Slam tournament that uses clay courts is the French Open.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fistball</span> Sport of European origin

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to tennis.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serve (tennis)</span> Initial shot to start a point

A serve in tennis is a shot to start a point. A player will hit the ball with a racquet so it will fall into the diagonally opposite service box without being stopped by the net. Normally players begin a serve by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it. The ball can only touch the net on a return and will be considered good if it falls on the opposite side. If the ball contacts the net on the serve but then proceeds to the proper service box, it is called a let; this is not a legal serve in the major tours although it is also not a fault. Players normally serve overhead; however serving underhand is allowed. The serve is the only shot a player can take their time to set up instead of having to react to an opponent's shot; however, as of 2012, there is a 25-second limit to be allowed between points.

The Open Era is the current era of professional tennis. It began in 1968 when the Grand Slam tournaments allowed professional players to compete with amateurs, ending the division that had persisted since the dawn of the sport in the 19th century. The first open tournament was the 1968 British Hard Court Championships held in April, followed by the inaugural open Grand Slam tournament, the 1968 French Open, a month later. Unless otherwise sourced, all records are based on data from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and the official websites of the four Grand Slam tournaments. All rankings-related records are based on ATP rankings, which began in 1973. The names of active players appear in boldface.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carpet court</span> Type of tennis court

A carpet court is a type of tennis court. The International Tennis Federation describes the surface as a "textile or polymeric material supplied in rolls or sheets of finished product". It is one of the fastest court types, second only to grass courts. The use of carpet courts in ATP Tour competitions ended in 2009. In women's tennis, no WTA Tour tournaments have used carpet courts since the last edition of the Tournoi de Québec in 2018. ATP Challenger and ITF circuit level tournaments with carpet courts continue to exist up to the present (2024).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borotra–Cochet rivalry</span> Tennis rivalry

This was a tennis rivalry played between French player Jean Borotra and the French player Henri Cochet, which in their respective careers the met 16 times from 1922 until 1949.


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