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What are the different types of Tennis & Pickleball court surfaces?

Tennis & Pickleball 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 & Carpet Courts. Read below to learn more about the different types of surfacing options.

Clay Courts

Clay courts, which are made of crushed shale, stone or brick, slow down the ball and produce a high bounce in comparison to grass or hard courts. 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. 

Hard Courts

Hard courts are made of uniform rigid material, often covered with an acrylic surface layer to offer greater consistency of bounce than other outdoor surfaces. 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.  

Grass Courts

Grass courts are the fastest type of courts in common use. 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.  

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. 

Carpet Courts

Carpeted courts are a short piled form of artificial turf infilled with sand. Carpet is generally a fast surface, faster than hardcourt, with low bounce. Some carpet courts are installed over hard surface courts that are in need of maintenance or repair.