Originally Posted by BMC9670
iTUSA Academy just opened a new facility near Phoenix and my son and I got to be among the first to play on their red clay. They have red, HarTru, hard, and a grass court to be completed in the spring.
We are no strangers to red clay as we often play in Germany in the summers while visiting family. Also played a lot of HarTru when we recently lived back east. Red is certainly stickier than HT, which does make the balls heavy, but I've played courts on both surfaces that are prepared very differently. iTUSA's red clay, for example, has less "surface" than those I've played in Germany - almost as if there is a hard court under it and some clay on top. I think they are still working on the court. The German courts are thicker and softer. The HT at our club near Philly had a lot of surface and was irrigated from underneath, so it was always moist and thick as opposed to some HT that gets watered twice a day by hand and plays dry and fast. Just an obvious observation that court build and prep makes a significant difference in how they play.
Oh, and red clay stains everything!
As for how the clay is taken care of, I agree that has a huge effect on how it plays. The moisture content being the most important aspect but the thickness of the clay also has an effect like you say. There is a swanky private Har-Tru facility that I've played at a few times. It has so much more clay than where I normally play and it is quite a bit slower.
It kind of ticked me off in Germany. Here we were playing with a $10 can of balls and they are doing above ground watering on the court next to us!
That red clay does stain your shoes and socks. It was neat when I played and looked in the corner of the courts and a pile of bricks was there. I had forgotten what I was playing on was really crushed brick.