HOW TO ADAPT TO GRASS TENNIS COURTS Shyam Sundar June 22, 2015 Tennis Skills Crumpled brick has been substituted by scythed lawns. Ridged soles have been unlaced in favour of pimple-soled shoes. Baseline combats and lengthy rallies won’t be commonplace as knee-bending, dinks and sliced shots are now vital for triumph during the six-week grass-court swing. All professional players on the ATP World Tour make the tough adjustment from clay to grass look absolutely easy by playing in the French Open and Wimbledon in consecutive months. The great Swede Bjorn Borg managed to win the Channel Slam (French-Wimbledon Double) 3 consecutive times from 1978 to 1980. This is often regarded as the most difficult double to achieve in tennis. Borg’s dominance on grass can be attributed to his ground-stroke consistency, an underestimated serve, equally underrated volleys, nimble footwork and mental fortitude. Against his big rivals, he could mix up things with both serve-and-volley tactics and at the same time play from the baseline to defensive hurt his opponents. Modern day greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have also managed to achieve this double by mastering the art of transition from clay to grass. For the average tennis player, however, adjusting to a grass tennis court can be a very difficult task. Young tennis players usually compete on clay and hard courts, but some youth tennis matches are held on grass courts. These matches create an interesting challenge for young players, because the tennis ball moves differently on grass. If you ever find yourself playing on a grass court, whether it is tournament play or a rally with a friend, make sure you know what to expect. Comparatively, balls travel the fastest in grass court surfaces. Hence, players often have a limited time to adapt and react to incoming shots. Also, points tend to finish swiftly and the average rallies between two players in grass surfaces are around four strokes. In general, ball bounces relatively therefore enhances the use of serve, volley, and slice. When playing in grass surfaces, players frequently face uncomfortable situations, such as low bounces that cause the ball to skid away, slippery grass, and bad bounces. Players must be aware of whether their centre of weight is low enough to adjust and adapt to a low or bad bounce, thus must acknowledge to constantly bending their knees. Moreover, the limited travelling and reaction time causes weak movements/coordination skills to be apparent and divulge. Therefore, players must use small adjustments steps in order to adapt to the surface. Furthermore, heavy serves is evidently more effective on grass surfaces as it travels additionally faster than usual. Playing on a living surface presents new challenges to players, who need to alter their tactics as the lush green of the first day becomes a worn, half dirt mixture by the end of the tournament. By knowing the following traits an amateur can make this alteration smoothly: Speed: To adjust to the pace of grass courts, players need to understand the timing and bounce of the ball. Similar to hard courts, the ball moves very quickly off the bounce. However, instead of the high bounces typical of hard courts, the ball seems to skid off the grass. Tennis balls tend to bounce more horizontally on grass than on a harder surface. As the ball hits the blades of grass, they bend and don’t provide as much upward rebound. This results in faster, lower shots that often produce shorter rallies and quicker points. Because of this, players will run less, but will feel it in their racquets and arms when they’re forced to make faster-paced returns. Rain and high humidity also sticks to the grass, causing more slippery conditions. The tennis ball usually stays low after bouncing, but travels further before bouncing a second time. To compensate for the speed change, you should meet the ball with your racket low to the ground and start your swings earlier. Matches on grass courts are usually shorter than those on clay because of the increased speed. Capitalize on the rapid ball movement by using powerful serves. With less time to react, your opponents will be forced to use defensive returns. These returns will give you the chance to take control of more points and come to the net more often. Slice: Slicing the ball is much more effective on grass than any other type of court. The tennis ball bounces lower with any type of shot, but good sliced shots barely come off the ground at all. The best time to utilize the slice is when you are at net or serving. At net, these shots will give your opponents little chance to get to the ball before double bounces, and powerful slice serves can make service returns even more difficult. Predictability: Part of the reason grass courts is less common than clay and hard courts are the endless amount of work that goes into their upkeep. If you watch Wimbledon, you can see how each tennis court changes from a pristine field into a mess of dirt and grass as the tournament progresses. Keep in mind that these are the nicest grass courts on the planet. When you play on a grass court, you have to be prepared for divots and bumps that can affect any bounce. Stay on your toes and be ready for anything. Serve-and-Volley: Serve and volley is one of the most effective and prominent tennis strategies for players in different levels. The server commences the point by an aggressive serve to threaten the returner, then, the player should immediately move towards the net to finish the point. Serve and volley can simultaneously surprise your opponent resulting unforced errors, as well as disrupting and interfering with your opponent’s concentration and momentum. It is an ideal tactic to conserve energy and finish points quicker, while gaining rest from long lasting and tiresome rallies. Knowing what to expect before you play on a grass court is part of the battle, but practicing one is the best way to adjust. Tennis is a mental game. If you stay confident and adaptable you can learn to dominate the grass court. GRASS TENNIS COURTS in USA During the Wimbledon fortnight, the sporting world turns its attention to what has become an anachronism in tennis: a tournament played on grass courts. Grass, of course, was the original surface for the game, which was invented, as “lawn tennis,” in the U.K. in the late 19th century. At one point, three of the four Grand Slam tennis events were played on grass. (The U.S. Open switched to Har-Tru clay in 1975 and is now played on hard courts; the Australian Open switched to hard courts in 1988). In the U.S., grass surfaces make up less than 1% of the nation’s tennis courts. Where to play grass court tennis in US: WimbleDon – Baker City, OR International Tennis Hall of Fame – Newport, Rhode Island Buckskill Tennis Club – East Hampton, NY Tennis Garden at the Phoenician – Scottsdale, AZ Saddlebrook Golf & Tennis Resort – Wesley Chapel, Florida Tennis at Fisher Island Club – Fisher Island, FL All Iowa Lawn Tennis Club – Charles City, IA Palm Desert Tennis Facilities at Desert Springs JW Marriott – Palm Desert, CA Tennis Center at Crandon Park – Key Biscayne, FL If not for the gravitas and tradition of Wimbledon, grass might have already gone the way of the Dodo bird. Some reasons: Grass, faster than clay and hard courts, is expensive and time-consuming to maintain. They must be mowed and watered with care. Not to mention protected: Wimbledon has guard dogs whose primary job is keeping foxes–whose females’ urine proves deadly to grass–off the grounds. Grass courts visibly wear out during a two-week championship, going from emerald green to dusty brown. Also, the bounces on grass courts can be dodgy: Balls naturally skid below knee height, and bumps, which are commonplace, send shots awry. But even Wimbledon has succumbed to modernity. In 2001 officials installed 100% perennial rye grass, which has turned out to be a slightly slower surface, more akin to hard courts.