Clay courts

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Bellagizmo, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. Bellagizmo

    Bellagizmo New User

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    I recently signed up for a clay tourney at the end of this month...I've never played on clay. :shock: I mainly play indoors..what kind of adjustments do I need to make?
     
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  2. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    the dirt difference

    I'd say it depends on what your game consists of currently. Clay slows the game down a bit, and takes energy away from your shots. In other words if you depend on hard serves and heavy, flat groundstrokes they won't be as effective. Your opponent will have more time to get to each shot so rallies tend to be longer. This is why serve-and-volleyers sometimes don't fare as well on clay; your opponent may be able to pass you more easily, unless you execute a perfect approach. You'll also experience that special "dirt bounce" so be aware that sometimes the ball will hit a clot or line and zing off in an unexpected direction. If you have an all-court game I say don't change anything, just be aware that more balls will come back than usual.
     
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  3. GeoffB

    GeoffB Rookie

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    That sounds like a lot of fun! I haven't played much on clay or grass in my life, but the few times, I did, I noticed that my attempts to adjust sometimes just threw things off even more. If this clay court match is a one-time occasion, you might be better off just going with the same game you'd bring to a hardcourt match. Eh, it might be worth playing a bit more patiently and putting a bit of extra topspin on the ball... but otherwise, I'd probably just try to make sure I got in a good warmup and play my usual game.

    If I had the opportunity to play a lot on clay, I'd make much more of an effort to actually learn the surface.
     
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  4. Bellagizmo

    Bellagizmo New User

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    Barring a heatstroke, I should win all my 3.5 matches.. My usta rating is 0.0 :) I also signed up for the men's open bracket to get some experience...After a 15 yr layoff, I got back into tennis last yr and started playing 3-4 times/week...
     
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  5. Grover Sparkman

    Grover Sparkman Rookie

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    I've only played once on clay, but here are my observations.

    *much much slower than an indoor hard court. Then again most are, but I've never played on grass.
    *ball will take extremely funny bounces
    *if you hit a hard and flat ground stroke, you may struggle
    *if you hit with lots of spin, you may love it because the spin on the ball coupled with the uneven dirt make for a tough combination
    *I hope you have a good slice/kick serve
    *Sliding is harder than it looks
     
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  6. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Don't even attempt to slide your first few matches. Make sure you wear a shoe with a non-marking sole. Any shoe that is sold as an actual tennis shoe will have this type of sole. Since it is your first time on the dirt, don't change too much. Just try not to fall and bust your tail.
     
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  7. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    Yep - they say clay is softer than a hard court - but as I can attest - it still hurts to FALL. I recently fell while stretching for a high volley and landed on my elbow (didn't break anything, just a bruise) - but I MADE THE SHOT! Actually I hit a winner on the way down. They fear me now....
     
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  8. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    The biggest adjustment I need to make on clay is to play with a lot more patience. It's a whole lot harder to punch the ball through the court on clay, so I have to resign to the fact that a baseline rally will usually need several more strokes for things to develop.

    Depth on my strokes is key because the surface slows the ball down, but tees it up. Leave it short too much and your opponent can break open some big angles on you.

    Spin can make the ball do some insane things off the bounce, so if you know how to hit a solid slice or kick serve, you can often put an opponent in more that way than by going for a flat heater. Remember, the surface will eat up the pace on lots of your shots.

    Hardcourts and even grass to a degree can allow players to change direction quickly, but that's certainly not the case with clay. Once you're committed to a direction, you want to (and sort of have to) stick with it, so try not to anticipate where your opponent will send the ball if it gives him too much of a crack at hitting behind you. Use a deliberate split-step and then run down the incoming shot once it's on the way to you. If you get defensive, backing up a step or two on the clay can give you a much bigger cushion for running balls down and staying in points.
     
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  9. robby c

    robby c Semi-Pro

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    Don't change a thing. Play your normal game.
    Just like in a hardcourt match, play to your strengths and your opponents weaknesses.
    Have fun.
    Back in 1991 my 4.5 public park league team went to State on clay. This one expert kept telling me that my regular power dbls game wouldn't work as well on clay. Well we won State. I didn't lose a match. I never returned better. Opponents serves seemed like they were in slow motion.
    Fight hard. Take it to your opponent. He may hate clay worse than you.
    Robby C
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Assume every bounce will be a bad bounce.
     
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  11. bluescreen

    bluescreen Hall of Fame

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    ive noticed that most recreational players dont move well on clay. they tend to slide after they hit the shot, not before. because of this, its easy to wrong foot them. try hitting behind your opponent. they'll find it difficult to change directions quickly.

    i like to angle the ball to get the opponent moving side to side, which will expose poor clay court movement. drop shots work well too, cuz even if they get it back, they'll be sliding forward and trying to catch their balance while u have an easy put away.
     
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  12. Bellagizmo

    Bellagizmo New User

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    Thanks for the tips you guys...:) I'm just gonna give it a go and try not to injure myself....
     
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  13. Danstevens

    Danstevens Semi-Pro

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    Not injuring yourself is always a good idea.

    Look to hit with more topspin than you would normally (for consistency) and make sure your fitness is good because you'll probably need to hit a few more shots than normal to win a point. Don't get impatient - prepare for long rallies. It's a good idea not to be reckless as it'll just result in errors most of the time. I'd cut down on slices a bit as well because they're not really as effective on clay. You will find that they don't skid and come off the court higher making them easier to attack. The same goes for drop shots - they bounce higher and so, aren't as effective. Both of those tactics/shots can work but use them in moderation. The drop shot can be very useful if you have your opponent pinned a long way back behind the baseline. In fact, in that position, it's sometimes easier to hit a drop shot to win the point that go for a "proper winner".

    Primarily though, as it's your first tournament on clay, just enjoy it. Try and get used to the surface but your main aim should try and be to have fun.
     
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  14. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    This is very good advice. Very true.
     
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