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Synthetic Tennis CourtsTracking Tennis from its Historical Origins to Modern Play

The sport of tennis has a long history. It was likely was first played in ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. The French soon adopted the game. The sport then spread through Europe, and by the 13th century, it was played all over the world, even at the top tiers of society. Medieval tennis fans included kings and even the Pope! Over time, tennis court surfaces, equipment, and rules changed. The game, as we know it today, is far from the original. Modern advances include synthetic tennis courts made from artificial grass as sold by Watersavers and balls designed with rubber coatings for extreme speed. How did we get here?

Before Racquets and Rubber, Tennis Started Indoors

Early games often took place in a building or walled courtyard. The courts were a narrow, solid surface, and players would bounce the ball off walls, almost like modern racquetball. Before rackets, players used their hands to hit the ball. The crude nets sagged, so scoring was tough. We score points now by hitting the ball over the net and into the far reaches of the court. In early matches, players won the game by hitting the ball right into the net! There were hardly any formal rules, and no official leagues or referees.

Tennis balls used to be made of wool or leather and couldn’t travel far. With the vulcanization of rubber, the sport took a huge leap forward. A man named Charles Goodyear (yes, the same one who gave “Goodyear Tires” its name) engineered a better and bouncier rubber ball. This allowed for the game to be played outside with more success. Since the new rubber lets balls travel farther, players could get more speed and power into their hits. Today, a thin outer layer of rubber holds felt balls together, offering a more even weight and smoother surface than the sewn fabrics of the past. 

From Indoors to Outdoors, Courts Shift from Clay to Synthetic Tennis Courts

Today, players may compete indoors or outdoors, on four types of surfaces: indoor hard courts and rubber courts, and outdoor courts made of grass or artificial turf. Hard courts (indoor or outdoor) are made of plastic or cement. Training areas often have courts with cushioned rubber. Outdoor courts can also feature natural sod, which must be watered and mowed often. They also must be placed in direct sunlight for the grass to thrive as a smooth and even surface for play.

Synthetic tennis courts are gaining traction because they are easier to care for and even to play on. They work in the sun or the shade and require little maintenance or water. With other court surfaces, there are many pros and cons. On hard courts, players have a greater risk of injury but can run at top speed. Indoor courts tend to increase ball speed while faux grass absorbs more impact making the game safer.

Each surface changes the style of play! Top athletes often favor specific kinds of courts. Hard court players train for precision and top speed. Pros who favor artificial grass and outdoor play are often known more for versatility, as they must adjust their serves and hits to factors like wind and weather. There’s a lot to consider before an arena decides on what kind of surface to install. They take into consideration the risk of injury with an indoor hard court, and the high maintenance cost of live grass versus the easy care of synthetic tennis courts. 

Learning More about Sports on Artificial Turf

With such a long history and humble origins, it’s amazing that this sport is now one of the top games in the world. 

Pickleball has also grown in popularity and can be played on synthetic turf courts as well!

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