Porto Journal Summer 2016

PJ 605 X 400 Clay Court

The New Challenge of Clay

Tennis is only becoming more and more popular at Porto Montenegro so the recent addition of an indoor court and, for this summer, a clay court surface should give fans of the sport even more reason to don their whites. We asked our resident Tennis Coach Nenad Damjanovic for more details.

PJ: Nenad, what will the new clay court mean for your days coaching here?

ND: I see this as a very significant step for us, we currently have three hardcourts – two outdoor and one indoor. Having a new court, and this time with another surface type, not only refreshes our club's offer, it also raises the experience for our members to another level. More technically, playing on this type of surface is slower than on hardcourts, allowing a coach to train players in all aspects of the game, particularly on certain stroke techniques of special relevance for clay. Our members will learn how to move and slip properly when chasing down the ball - something they couldn't do on hardcourts. Finally, clay is considerably softer on players' joints, making it popular among more mature clients.

PJ: Is there a well developed clay court tennis culture in the Balkans?

ND: Not only is it big but the percentage is a remarkable 90% of all courts here now use clay. In the last 15 years the huge success of Croatian and then Serbian pros such as Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic and many others has given the game increased importance, which in turn meant more tennis court construction - the vast majority in clay.

PJ: What are the characteristics of clay court tennis compared to hard court tennis?

ND: The main difference is that clay courts are considered to slow down the pace of a game because balls bounce relatively high and slow. Points usually last longer as a result. Clay courts are often preferred by those who like to defend from the baseline, or from behind the baseline. Moving on hardcourts is quite different. Playing on clay often involves slipping around the ball as you play your strokes, whereas on hardcourts and grass you have to run the ball down on stop still as you play the stroke as sliding isn't as easy. On a hard surface, which is considered a medium-fast surface, the ball moves quickly and stays low on the bounce therefore points are generally fairly short. Powerful players with a strong serve have a slight advantage here. Hardcourts may vary in speed but overall they tend to be faster than clay and slower than grass. Finally, and this is more of an operational point, unlike hardcourts, where you have almost no regular maintenance requirements, clay courts need constant attention in order to ensure optimal conditions for our players, a minor issue when you consider how much pleasure this new court will bring.