Tennis and Synthetic Turf: The Future?
With Wimbledon having just finished and the Davis Cup coming up this week end, this short article questions the fact whether one day an international tennis competition will be played on synthetic turf.
Some people will ask why even think about it?
Well actually most people probably don’t know that until the early 1970s, the majority of tennis tournaments were played on grass, including three out of the four Grand Slams – the Wimbledon Championships, Australian Open and US Open. Wimbledon is today the only Grand Slam event played on grass. The main reason behind this is due to the fact that grass courts are not only difficult but also very expensive to maintain. The Australian and US Open have both opted for hardcourt surfaces as a cost effective solution but which also have their disadvantages, especially for players (i.e. injuries).
Most tennis fans will argue the fact that having these different types of surfaces is good because the style of play is different on each surface and therefore players need to adapt for each of those surfaces which makes the game more interesting. But little know that there are many different artificial grass qualities for tennis, each with its specific playing characteristics (i.e. fast, medium, slow paste surfaces). Thus artificial turf courts are a perfect compromise.
In recent years, tennis clubs are increasingly opting for artificial turf courts. Just to give you an idea of the development of synthetic turf in tennis, back in 2006, the amount of synthetic turf used for tennis courts was 4% of the total market and has probably grown even more by now. The reason for this trend is pretty straight forward, in comparison with other types of surfaces, synthetic turf requires little maintenance, increases the usage time and enables you to play all year round. Furthermore these artificial turf courts drain very well and can be played on immediately after a rain shower.
Finally, as an example of the expansion of artificial turf in tennis clubs, did you know that one of the most prestigious tennis club in the world, The Queen’s Club in London (where the Davis Cup quarterfinals between France and Great Britain will be played this weekend) already have 4 artificial turf courts, which for the moment are mainly used for players to train on in difficult weather conditions and also for warming up during tournaments.
But who knows? Maybe sometime, hopefully in the near future, we will experience the first ever international tennis competition to be played on synthetic turf.