Playing on clay vs. Plexicushion

FIRETennis

New User
In my part of the world, 90% of courts are clay and 99.9% of players want to play only on clay.
I learned to play tennis on red clay but recently spent some time playing on Plexipave Plexicushion "hard" courts. I actually discovered my hate for clay growing bigger and bigger the more I play on cushioned hard courts.
Most of the clay courts available are ... really badly maintained with dusty, bumpy huge chunks of clay. It makes for a very unpredictable game where every bounce is completely random.
Lines are very difficult to see after a few games, even when brushed and all gear gets dirty and super dusty. Strings break on clay twice as fast as on hard court for me.
I partially agree that clay is better for your joints however with two sprained ankles and weekly slips after bad slides, I feel almost more fresh after a couple hours on a cushioned hard then grinding on clay.
Clay does build consistency in the points but at the same time it eliminates the advantages of big serves, attacking groundstrokes and a net game.

Just wanted to hear the community's thoughts if anyone else is in my shoes that dislikes clay despite playing on it for many years ...
 

Cashman

Professional
Natural surfaces like clay and grass are surfaces people either love or hate. Personally I like them because they are more interesting.

A lot of hardcourt players hate them because of the natural variation. It is frustrating to have your lovely grooved groundstrokes disrupted by a bad bounce when you are used to courts playing true. It can feel like it introduces too much luck into the game and benefits the less skilled player. The way they negate certain ways of playing is also annoying for some people, who get used to being able to play the same way on every court.

Cushioned hardcourt is definitely a better alternative to paved hardcourt if you are lucky enough to play on it regularly - way better on the body. But it’s still a tough surface on your joints compared to clay and grass.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I have only played on clay while on vacation .... absolutely loved it .... it would be great to have the opportunity to become proficient at it ... only at the end of a week of playing on it did I begin to slide ....

I have to play on plexicusion at two different clubs here in town. I hate every single part of it. The surface sounds hollow on the bounce, there are spots here and there that are less than true, the ball is deadened by the surface negating both TS and slice as well as taking power off a shot. And, after playing a 2 hour match, my knees feel no better than after 2 house on regular hard court
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Well maintained and watered clay courts are very different from dry, dusty, beat up ones.

J
I kind of thnk this is the answer, despite any marketing claims for this plexicuchion stuff... I love tennis enough that if I had the finanancial means, I'd have a har-tru green clay court on my own property long before a "hard" court or any other type of court, because I know that if it were MY court, I would spend the time on maintenance... I'm almost 50... it'd be like mowing the lawn... marketing be damned - long live my hips, back, and knees.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
I kind of thnk this is the answer, despite any marketing claims for this plexicuchion stuff... I love tennis enough that if I had the finanancial means, I'd have a har-tru green clay court on my own property long before a "hard" court or any other type of court, because I know that if it were MY court, I would spend the time on maintenance... I'm almost 50... it'd be like mowing the lawn... marketing be damned - long live my hips, back, and knees.
I manage to keep mine in good shape.



J
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
The Wigwam resort here is AZ has a Plex court. I have played it several times and I hate the feel and hate the sound. So unnatural and odd.

Did a whole thread on the sanded artifical grass, and that I could get into.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I agree with Jolly. Well maintained clay courts are the best. We have 4 at our club and I try to never use the hard courts. Plexicushion are probably only good for your feet and back. The surface still produces the hard stops that wreck ankles, knees and hips. The more gradual stop on clay court spares those joints.

Most people I know that don't like clay largely have games that are built around hard courts. Big serves, flat shots. They struggle with the pushers and consistent players once their weapons are partially neutered.

i find clay is really good for doubles. You end up with higher quality returns that lengthen points and make it more fun for everyone. On hardcourts, points end too quickly since its easier to get free points on your serve.
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
For me the nicest thing about Clay Courts is that the ball usually leaves a mark on the court where it bounced.

Saves a lot of time on disputed line calls etc.
 

brettatk

Semi-Pro
Not too many plexicushion courts around here, at least that I've played on. When I did I couldn't stand the feel or sound. First time I played on one I was like wtf???

I enjoy playing on clay but rarely get to do so. I was at a State tournament last weekend in Georgia that was played on clay. The first set of courts we played on were horrible. It was around 2:30 pm and the courts were really dried out and didn't even play like clay. Clouds of dust everywhere. You would have thought they'd wet them down between matches but no such luck. The next day we played somewhere else and the courts were pristine. What a difference good clay courts can make.
 

Cashman

Professional
Most people I know that don't like clay largely have games that are built around hard courts. Big serves, flat shots. They struggle with the pushers and consistent players once their weapons are partially neutered.
Or grass. I play on clay once a month and it’s purely medicinal.
 

tonylg

Rookie
I'm the odd one out here.

I hate clay. The poor footing, the lack of pace, the filth all over everything

I've neither played on not watch a clay match in over 30 years.

If clay was my only option, I'd take up synchronised swimming.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

FIRETennis

New User
Most people I know that don't like clay largely have games that are built around hard courts. Big serves, flat shots. They struggle with the pushers and consistent players once their weapons are partially neutered.
Quite true ... however the same can be said about players that love clay courts. They don't need to have a serve, a return nor volleys. Just lots of legs and some solid groundstrokes or even pushing from the baseline.
 
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I grew up playing on hard courts in the states. But for the past 4 months, I have been playing 3 times per week on red clay. The mosquitoes are not too bad due to the many bats. But the bats can be distracting when they fly right in front of your face.

The clay is usually on the damp side, with roughness variable depending on which red clay facility I play at.

I enjoy the clay because it is a different challenge. On warmer days when my serve is working, I love serving-and-volleying on clay because it’s so tough to return a powerful spin serve on the rise.

I also like to employ the moonball-and-charge tactic on clay for the same reason.

The single biggest difference between hard court and clay is the on-the-rise ball. On hardcourt these shots are played on the majority of balls. On clay you need to strategize to minimize hitting balls on the rise, either taking in air as a volley or backing up to take on the way down after the bounce. The prep footwork is thus very different.

Since I didn’t grow up on clay, and I don’t have a very good clay-style high-energy forehand, I find my best competitive results by moving forward more like Edberg, rather than retreating deep like Rafa.

I have better success taking the net on clay than I do on hardcourt back home.
 
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Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
On clay you need to strategize to minimize hitting balls on the rise, either taking in air as a volley or backing up to take on the way down after the bounce.
The modern technique on Red Clay involves getting to the ball early, and hitting it at the top of the bounce, especially on the forehand side. Many of the better players will leap into the air at the appropriate moment to ensure that they still make contact with the ball between their shoulder and their waist.

The correct timing of this manoeuvre also facilities additional spin as the player and racquet are moving in an upwards direction during the moment of ball impact on the string bed.

And by hitting the ball at the top of its bounce, their is greater margin for error getting the ball back over the net, and it opens up a lot more angles for shots.

Also, don't believe that players aren't trying to hit the ball early on clay. Many are for the same reasons for doing it on other surfaces. It steals time away from your opponent and puts them under more pressure because they have less time to prepare for their next shot.
 

Demented

Rookie
Plexicushion is a really odd surface. It plays much more like a clay court than traditional concrete. The surface has a very sand paper texture and the ball really slows down on contact. I don't dislike it but it's not a true hard court experience.
 

FIRETennis

New User
Plexicushion is a really odd surface. It plays much more like a clay court than traditional concrete. The surface has a very sand paper texture and the ball really slows down on contact. I don't dislike it but it's not a true hard court experience.
Surely "traditional" hard courts aren't really pure concrete !? Most ATP/ITFs are played on complex arcylic surface such as: Rebound Ace, Plexipave, Greenset, Decoturf etc... which are respectively slowed down or sped up due to the grit of the surface finish.
 

Demented

Rookie
It's a stark difference between acrylic concrete with sand mixed in and plexicushion. You can run and cut on plexicushion even when wet. It's got more grip than clay even when soaked(not puddled but fully wet). It's similar to the stuff that they use on the end of boat decks for traction getting in and out of the water. The combo of a bit of softness and the super grit causes the ball to slow down a lot and sit up. There's no variance like clay but you get a similar experience.
 

Cashman

Professional
Quite true ... however the same can be said about players that love clay courts. They don't need to have a serve, a return nor volleys. Just lots of legs and some solid groundstrokes or even pushing from the baseline.
It’s true of everyone who plays on one surface too much. You only develop the strokes that work best on those courts.

Unfortunately hard court often gets held up as ‘real’ tennis, with claycourters and grasscourters being derided as moonballers and hacks respectively.

Hard court specialists are often just as limited, at least at rec level.
 

tonylg

Rookie
On clay you don't need to have a volley. You almost don't need to have a serve. All you need to have is legs, an incredible forehand and backhand and to run things down. I think you can get away with having problems with your game on clay more than you can on other surfaces.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
On clay you don't need to have a volley. You almost don't need to have a serve. All you need to have is legs, an incredible forehand and backhand and to run things down. I think you can get away with having problems with your game on clay more than you can on other surfaces.
Seems to me that's what you need for hard courts as well.

People with legs and good groundstrokes do pretty well on all surfaces these days. A serve will get you more mileage on hard courts and grass but that's about the only stroke IMO.

I volley more on clay because its often the only way to end a point before I run out of gas. Most of my hard court rallies end long before I need to get to the net.

Players that grew up on clay have been ruling tennis for a while now. Seems learning on that surface sets you up better as a pro than being a hardcourt serve bot. So I'm not sure the professional ranks prove your point.
 

tonylg

Rookie
So I'm not sure the professional ranks prove your point.
Whilst I agree that in the current slow and boring tennis environment all you need is a clay court game, it wasn't my point.

Those were the words of a, then reigning, dirt court champion.

I do happen to agree with him.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
So is this plexicushion surface used for outdoor courts too or is it ndoor only? (sorry if that's a supern00b question) I've played on what I think is plexicushion but it was only indoor... so I am not really sure.

What I know is that of the surfaces I've played on (not an exhaustive list of available options for sure and I've never played on grass), the green clay was by far and away the most comfortable for both impact on my body and temperature comfort in the heat and humidity of the South Carolina and Georgia summers.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
So is this plexicushion surface used for outdoor courts too or is it ndoor only? (sorry if that's a supern00b question) I've played on what I think is plexicushion but it was only indoor... so I am not really sure.

What I know is that of the surfaces I've played on (not an exhaustive list of available options for sure and I've never played on grass), the green clay was by far and away the most comfortable for both impact on my body and temperature comfort in the heat and humidity of the South Carolina and Georgia summers.
Plexicushion can be placed anywhere since the rubber compound is still beneath the sealant and layers of acrylic.
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
So is this plexicushion surface used for outdoor courts too or is it ndoor only? (sorry if that's a supern00b question) I've played on what I think is plexicushion but it was only indoor... so I am not really sure.
Plexicushion and Plexicushion Prestige can be layed and used in both indoors and outdoors environments.

Many of the Plexicushion Prestige courts layed in Australia are outdoors and subject to a wide variation of climactic conditions (incl. temperatures from 0 Deg C to 45 Deg C, and Humidity Ranges from 5% to 100%) without any issues.

The important thing is that they are properly layed in the first place, and kept clean and well swept.
 

tonylg

Rookie
The important thing is that they are properly layed in the first place, and kept clean and well swept.
I can't reinforce this enough. I play on Plexicushion every week at various locations and although all the courts are painfully slow, there's a massive variation between them. Some play quite consistently whilst others have massive dead spots. Better footing than clay, but even my 50s I'd rather play on textured concrete (in fact I'm off to do so now).
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
There is a plexipave court complex (6 courts) that was installed about a year ago. They are currently ripping it out.

Whoever installed it did the worst job ever. It is buckling and cracking and peeling. It is uneven with birdbaths .... it sucks to play on ... if it rains, which is rare here, it stays unplayable and very wet for well over 24 hours.

There are two complexes here in town both have it ... one is at least playable although I hate the sound and how slow it is ... and then the disaster one.
 

CHtennis

Rookie
I now play on Har -Tru during the summer almost exclusively and I really miss hard courts and I like the plexicushion. The problem is what @jollyroger mention in that it really depends on the care given to the court. Poorly maintained Har tru courts are my least favorite to play on; bad bounces, inconsistent consistency (I can slide really easily in some places but not in other parts of the court) and poor footing. However, on well maintained har tru I do enjoy it, I still prefer hard court but it is much better if well maintained. The times I have played on red clay I have much preferred that to the green Har tru courts.
 

Cashman

Professional
The times I have played on red clay I have much preferred that to the green Har tru courts.
I have played on green Har-Tru only a couple of times, but I was surprised at how different it is to red clay. Bounce is a little bit lower and it is far less slippery. I couldn't slide like I do on red clay, and ended up playing on it more like I do on a slow hardcourt. Moisture did not seem to make as big a difference to green clay as red. When a Red clay court gets wet, everything gets incredibly slow and heavy.

That said I have been told that German red clay is far rougher than the power-fine French and Italian clay to allow for better drainage, and as a result takes slice much better. I would be interested to hear how that compares to green clay.

Does maroon Har-Tru play any different to green?
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Does maroon Har-Tru play any different to green?
I believe I have read that the other colors of Har-Tru are simply dyed in some way ... I do not know if that is accurate or not

My club is working on raising enough funds to install 3 German red clay courts ..... my fingers are crossed as it would be nice to play on something other than hard.
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
BTW, "Har-Tru" is a Brand Name (like "Kevlar" which is generically Aramid).

Har-Tru Courts are generically known as Green Clay courts or Rubico courts.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
BTW, "Har-Tru" is a Brand Name (like "Kevlar" which is generically Aramid).

Har-Tru Courts are generically known as Green Clay courts or Rubico courts.
Funny how everyone refers to them as "green" clay when they are more accurately termed "grey" clay. Sure there is a slight greenish hue to Har Tru but the predominant color is Grey.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Funny how everyone refers to them as "green" clay when they are more accurately termed "grey" clay. Sure there is a slight greenish hue to Har Tru but the predominant color is Grey.
I always felt like they look green from afar, but more grey when you step onto them...
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
I played on one in FL that was really really green ... didn't seem to be as well maintained as others ... perhaps algae growth ... ick.
Yeah... I don't have that much experience with them, have only played on 3 different clay courts in total... I just am seeing in my mind's eye the last two that I walked on to - the one was way around the back of a complex of courts - two "green" courts surrounded by the rest blue and green painted hard courts - walking around the other courts to the clay, it looked quite green from outside the fence - really more olive drab kind of green - then stepping onto it and looking directly down at my feet while standing on it, it appeared very much grey, with even some tan/brown grit stuff mixed in. Meanwhile, the other one was even more recent and it looked more bluish than greenish as I approached it from the parking lot, but as I stepped out onto it, it was very definitely grey in color - I am not sure it was as well watered/maintained as the previous one.

The one I played on a while back in SC was much more vibrantly green looking from off the court and quite blue/grey/green when I stepped on it...
 
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