It would be interesting to know on what surface my readers play the most (Let me know in the poll below). I know that it depends on the location you live and where you play. I was “hard court only” player for a long time. However, after moving to a new flat I realized there are a few good tennis clubs around with clay courts. And I decided to try it. Playing on clay is a different story than playing on hard. And also the duties of players after the match on clay court are different. Let’s go through rules you should keep when playing on the clay. Four advice I would like to know before I went for clay tennis for the first time. Some of them would seem obvious for a regular clay tennis player, but they can be very useful for players going for the first time to the clay tennis court.
#1 – What to wear on clay courts
The clay is the weakest point of every clay court. Strange sentence, but let me explain it. I like playing on the court, but my washing machine hates it. Clay leaves a lot of dirt on your shoes, socks, shirts, and shorts. Basically, on everything, you will bring to the clay court.
Therefore I recommend using mostly dark or black socks, shirts, and shorts. Not because the orange clay looks better on clay shirt, but because washing the clay out of white shirt is almost impossible.
It is not about color when we are speaking about shoes. Most coaches and players recommend different shoes for clay and hard courts. Read why you should use clay tennis shoes here. In addition to all good reasons stated in that article, you would also not need to clean your shoes before going back to the hard court.
#2 – Keep the clay court clean and leveled
When you come first time to the clay court you should know one basic thing. It is a good habit to clean and level the court after you finish your match or practice session.
It means that you enter the clean and leveled court when you start your session. And it also means you should finish a few minutes sooner to have some time to clean and level the court for people who will come to play after you.
It seems like an easy process on hard court consisting just from picking the balls and packing your tennis bag. On clay court, there will be a lot of holes and uneven places after even short training sessions. There will be also a lot of ball and shoe stamps on the court. Therefore, you need to use brooms and sweepers to put the court in the desired state.
#3 – Brooms? Which and when to use?
There are three different tools you can use after you finish your match on the clay court.
Drag-Broom serves for brushing the surface of the court. It will smooth out and level the court. I use it just on the places which are very uneven and need to be leveled with more force. If you played on a solid clay court and there are no significant holes and bumps you can skip using Drag-Broom and start immediately with Drag Mat
Clean Sweep Drag Mat
Clean Sweep is done with Drag Mat. You will take Drag Mat after you finished your work with Drag-Broom and the biggest holes are settled. You drag the Drag Mat from one side of the court to the another till you did not clean all court.
Line Broom is a light brush for lines to be clearly visible. It can be used also during the match if your lines disappear under the clay remains. You will use Line Broom just for final touch after Drag Mat if lines are not clean enough.
You can also notice court rollers near the clay courts, but you do not need to use it after your match. Courts are rolled by club manager periodically to keep them stable.
All above-mentioned tools for clay court care are usually at your disposal in your club.
#4 – Watering
It is important to water the clay courts to keep them stable and eliminate dust. Usually, you do not need to water the court after every session and watering is done by the club manager once a day in the evening. However, in really hot conditions you can be asked by the club manager to do it after your court time to prevent the dusting. Then you will just shower the court a little.
I like playing on the clay as much as playing on the hard. The clay court care is just a little complication you do not need to stress with. It takes just a few minutes and can not spoil your tennis day.