Scott Nichols – On The Other Hand Newsletter – Vol 14

The French Open is around the corner with the surface being slow, red clay!  I am going to highlight some information about
this surface.  5/26-6/9 are the tournament dates; my Men’s Singles champion is NADAL and my women’s champion is up for grabs!
Keep in mind, the majority of the east coast region from NY to Florida are clubs with clay courts.  As we move westward, clay
still is available due to heavy air moisture, humidity etc. but they are seasonal courts.
The southwest and west coast are rare with clay, since it is too dry and windy, water costs would be extremely high, since clay courts need water and moisture for optimum play.

True French Open Clay is slower than the artificial clay we have in the US.  We call our courts, Har-Tru versus real clay.  I will discuss the similarities and what all clay players should know when competing on this surface.
Clay courts are soft on the body, a surface that provides ‘funny’ uneven bounces, your shoes and socks get dirty and you can play in a soft rain.  Hard courts are hard on your body, provide clean/true bounces, your shoes and socks stay fairly clean and you can not play in the rain.  Also, unlike other surfaces, clay provides the lessor player a better chance to compete, since the clay court absorbs the speed of the ball and gives opponents a ‘chance,’ that normally on other surfaces would not be available.
HOWEVER, with all the nice benefits of playing on a clay court,
a player to be successful, must be fairly fit and must know how to ‘slide’ into the shot.  Clay courts have a top dressing that can be slippery if not careful and the lines are usually vinyl tapes with nails, which need to be aware of of.
The technique of sliding into the ball is fairly easy to learn, but does take practice.  Depending on the level of play, most ‘clay court’ players start their slide a few steps away from the spot they will contact the ball.  On hard surface play, usually we set up and step at the area of contact.  Definitely, this is a different technique of moving; one can not slide on hard courts with out injury and one can not go to the spot of contact on a clay court and not be off balance, if their is no prior slide.
So, when you watch the French Open; watch the pros fitness, patience during the long rallies, ability to slide and how dirty their shoes and clothing gets.  Also, see the different colors and shades of red on the surface, one can see if the court is properly watered, too dry or sometimes too wet.
See you all soon and thank you for buying my book.
Scott Nichols
Director of Tennis
USPTA/PTR Pro 1/Author
Marbella Country Club

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