Tennis

How to clean a tennis court

How to clean a tennis court
  • When it rains heavily, outdoor hard courts create puddles that can be cleaned using a roller or a squeegee.
  • During autumn, make use of a leaf blower to sideline the gathered leaves on the court.
  • A court and line sweeper can be used to keep your clay court clean.
  • Cleaning court is well worth it for your improved playing experience.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Tennis is an awesome sport, that we all know. And one of the sure-fire ways to keep it as fun as possible is to play on a clean court.

I’m not talking about trash here, I’m talking about keeping the actual court surface as clean as possible.

This is done to guarantee that the ball bounce is as true as possible, to ensure that your sneakers don’t get messed up, and to create a court that gives you the best chance of playing your best tennis.

That’s not too much to ask, right?

But since there are many different tennis court surfaces out there, the way to clean them does vary. I’ve covered all of this throughout. 

Cleaning various tennis courts

Outdoor hard courts

When you play outdoor tennis, the court, as well as yourself, is exposed to the elements. This includes wind, rain, sun, and whatever else mother nature chooses to throw our way.

All of these elements can impact the surface in different ways, although two common factors that cause the court to be ‘dirty; include leaves and water.

i) When it rains, the court gathers water, and this can create puddles while making the surface very slippery. The best way to then clean the court is to use either a roller or a ‘squeegee’, which are two pieces of equipment that let you absorb the water and push it away from the court.

ii) The second most common factor is leaves. This is particularly true in the Autumn, where leaves can gather on the court and become a bit of a nuisance.

If you are playing at a local club, I’d recommend asking the managers or groundsmen if they have a leaf blower or a rake. I know, it’s annoying to do this, but at least you will then get a clean court to play on.

Indoor hard courts

If you are playing tennis in a part of the world that can get pretty cold, there is a strong chance that you’ll be playing indoor tennis a lot of the time.

Of course, indoor courts are shielded from the elements, so you won’t have to contend with any weather or leaves blowing onto the court.

However, one thing you will need to deal with is the accumulation of tennis ball fluff!

If you’ve played a fair bit of indoor tennis before, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But if you haven’t, let me clarify this mystery.

When tennis balls are being whacked around all day long, little bits of fluff will fly off them, and after hours and hours of play, this fluff can build up. You’ll often see it around the court, in corners, and around the chairs around the net (if you have some).

It also gets all over your shoes, which can get pretty annoying, especially when you start to bring it home with you. The only way to then clean this is to actually clean the courts, and there are specific court cleaners that most clubs have, which you can use to do this. 

Clay courts

Clay court tennis is more unique than the rest. It’s pretty much the only surface that leaves evidence of the play, with ball marks, shoe marks, and large sliding marks on the court where players have moved around.

Usually, players (or maintenance staff) will sweep the court and do the lines once used, leaving behind a nice clean court for you to come and play on – as seen at Roland Garros.

But if you get unlucky, you’ll come to the clay court and it won’t have been swept or cleaned. In this case, you’ll need to remove the evidence of the previous play yourself.

There are two pieces of equipment used for this:

1) The first is the actual court sweeper, which is usually a brush or a net, and you can then drag it around with you to smooth out the court surface and remove all marks.

When this is done, however, you actually drag the clay over the lines of the court. Therefore, you must then use…

2) The second tool, which is the line sweeper. You’ll need to brush the clay away from all lines on the court to leave it clean

But here’s the good news, once you get efficient at doing this, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to clean a clay court.

Grass courts

There are only a few professional tournaments in the world, such as Wimbledon, that are played on grass. So needless to say, this is the least common court surface that you’ll need to clean before play.

But with that said, there are many clubs that do have grass courts, although the standard of these courts can vary greatly.

In my experience, one of the most annoying parts of grass court tennis is the little divots that emerge on the court,

And yes, these require cleaning or tidying up before play.

The only way to do this really is to wander around the court, and tapping on the divots with your foot to make them flat again. This can be fairly time-consuming, but hey, if you want to play on a nice clean grass court, that’s what you need to do.

Unfortunately, if the court surface isn’t flat, which is something I’ve found at many clubs that have grass courts, there is not much you can do – as that will be a job for the maintenance staff or contractors.

My conclusion

Keeping a clean tennis court does take work, but it’s well worth it. There is nothing worse than playing on a court that is compromised simply because of inconveniences like ball marks, divots, ball fluff, or water and leaves.

And since the tools you must use to clean the courts are usually accessible, at any reputable tennis club, you should be able to get your hands on them easily.

On a more positive note, certain clubs employ full-time maintenance teams too, so there is always the chance that you won’t have to clean the court personally!

Did you find this piece useful? Have you experienced these inconveniences in the past? Let us know down below.

Professional tennis players who started late

John Isner Professional tennis players who started late
  • The Great Roger Federer started hitting tennis ball at age 8 and played soccer long with tennis for many years.
  • Dominic Thiem didn’t even contemplate playing tennis before age 6 which interestingly is late compared to top tennis players like Djokovic and Nadal, Serena Williams who started swinging tennis rackets at age 3.
  • A late bloomer John Isner didn’t pick up a racket until he was age 11.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

There are many professional players on both the ATP and WTA circuits that started playing tennis aged 3 or less.

In fact, when researching the top players…

I discovered that this was pretty much the norm!

I’m fairly sure I was still learning how to color in images correctly at age 3 – never mind hitting a tennis ball.

But amazingly, when you look at players like Nadal and Serena Williams, they first started whacking balls around as toddlers. 

I found this pretty interesting, especially since I didn’t start hitting balls until around 8/9, and I like to think that I still turned out okay.

So, as you’ve guessed from the article topic, I’ll be running through some players who had a relatively late start, with three high-profile players making the list.

Three players who arrived quite late to the party

Roger Federer

That’s right, arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, Roger Federer didn’t start hitting tennis balls until he was 8 years of age.

When you compare that to two of his nearest rivals, Nadal and Djokovic, they had 5 years of practice as a head start!

And even when he picked up a racket to start playing, he apparently played soccer just as much as he did tennis.

Federer himself claims that he only started to play more tennis because he was better at that compared with soccer, and the coach reportedly got angry about Federer missing all of the games to play tennis. 

I actually had the same story, although I didn’t quite turn into Roger Federer (obviously).

I was handy at both tennis and soccer as a kid, but sooner or later, the commitments to both can get too much, and I was forced to pick one or the other.

I don’t regret my decision to stick with tennis, and I doubt that Federer regrets his decision either!

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem has been knocking on the door at the top of the men’s game for a while now.

And as you might recall, he had his first real breakthrough at the 2020 US Open, securing his first Grand Slam title against Zverev in an epic five-setter.

But believe it or not, Dominic Thiem didn’t even contemplate playing tennis until the age of 6, which is still much later than some of the other top guys.

And apparently, he didn’t take the game too seriously at this age, so I’d imagine he didn’t start to practice properly for a good year or two after this. 

Of course, 3 years might not seem like much at such a young age, but I’ve no doubts that this would put him behind in terms of his development.

Just imagine needing to go through the same learning elements that his peers had already gone through, and then accelerating his development to then compete with the likes of Nadal and Djokovic.

It’s fairly impressive, and I take my hat off to the guy, truly. 

John Isner

I’ve saved the best for last, for this one will take your breath away. While Federer started playing at the age of 8, and Thiem started playing at the age of 6, John Isner didn’t pick up a racket until he was 11 years of age.

This is amazingly late to pick up the game compared to many of the other top players, and I often wonder whether this late start aided in his decision to go and play college tennis prior to joining the ATP Tour.

This late start in itself is quite unique, but the fact that he managed to reach the top of the game having come through the NCAA system is also quite unique.

You really don’t see many players come through the collegiate system and then reach the top of the game.

But with that said, Isner also has a secret weapon – his enormous serve. I’ve watched him play matches where guys seem to be almost dodging his serve, which can often go North of the 140mph mark

What is the right age to start?

Although I’ve highlighted three players that started the game relatively late, compared with other high-profile players anyway, it’s normal to still have this question in mind.

And to answer the question with a concrete number, I don’t believe that this is the right way to approach things.

Instead, I believe that a child should only start when they express an interest in doing so, and when they have the right attention capacity to be able to practice properly.

Although many players have started as early as 3 years of age, I have coached groups of 3-year-olds, and trust me – they weren’t ready.

But of course, I also understand that there will be kids that can focus at this age, and there will be kids that express a real interest and motivation to learn tennis.

One thing I will say, however, is that I wouldn’t force your child to play the game. 

I’ve seen parents drag their kids to the court for a coaching session, and if the kid doesn’t want to be there, it is a waste of both their time and the coach’s – not to mention that it’s a waste of money for the parents.

So I would absolutely approach this question with an open mind, and talk things through with your kid (as best you can at such a young age), as this is the best way to determine whether they should start playing or not.

My conclusion

I trust that you found this article both fun and informative, as I really enjoyed finding the information to give to you regarding our professional players.

These three examples go to show that a child doesn’t need to start swinging a racket while they are still in diapers to go on to become a champion. In fact, it shows more than ever that starting playing when they are ready is always the best solution.

Do you know of any other late bloomers in the world of professional tennis? Let us all know in the comments.

What is a rally in tennis

What is a rally in tennis
  • Whenever you see players thrashing the ball back and forth on a tennis court, this is called a ‘rally’.
  • Once the serve goes into the right box and the serve is returned in the court; the rally has started.
  • Rally involves volleys, drive volleys, overheads, drop shots, forehands, and backhands, making the game unpredictable and exciting.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Of course, rally structures and lengths can vary quite significantly, but at the very fundamental level, it’s all about consistently hitting a ball in the court between two or four players.

When kids are starting out in tennis, you’ll often hear coach’s asking them to rally their age, which is something that is used as a good baseline for the kid’s progression and skill level.

As an adult or a more advanced junior, coaches will start to introduce patterns of plays in rallies, and

Why these should be used?

This is actually a topic that is more in-depth than you might initially think, so let me cover some of the more complex details.

A breakdown of a tennis rally

The serve

In competitive tennis, a rally always begins the same way, with one player hitting a serve.

Of course, the serve needs to land in the diagonal box opposite their side, and a player has two attempts to do this successfully.

If a player misses both serves, they have hit a ‘double fault’, and no rally will actually take place. But if a player does hit either the first serve or second serve into the box, the rally is now started. 

With that said, if the server hits a very powerful and precise serve, there is always the chance that this would result in an ace or an unreturned serve. 

The return

Assuming the serve goes into the right box, the rally is live, and it’s then up to the opposing player to return the serve. In tennis, a lot of time you will hear players talk about the importance of the serve and the return.

And I must agree with them – the serve, alongside the return, are the two most important strokes in the game.

For returning, a player is usually looking to block the ball back to a decent length from a first serve, therefore neutralizing the play. 

But for a second serve, the returner can usually look to be more aggressive and try to dominate the rally from the get-go.

Of course, this all depends on how good the serve is, and how confident the returner feels with their skills to take control of the point.

Currently, we live in a blessed era of tennis, and it just so happens that Novak Djokovic is the best returner of serve that there has ever been.

He has truly mastered the art, and he is also responsible for what many people call ‘the best return’ ever – check it out here:

The reason this is viewed as one of the best ever is that he then went on to win the trophy, having faced these two match points against the great Roger Federer.

The rally itself

If the serve goes well, and the return is subsequently hit into the court, the rally is now well underway.

From here, it’s all about who can outsmart, outhit, and outmaneuvered their opponent to ultimately win the rally and the point. 

The rally will always consist of forehands and backhands, but it could also involve volleys, drop shots, drive volleys, as well as overheads.

It all depends on how the rally plays out, and since no rally is ever the same, this makes the game of tennis particularly enjoyable and unpredictable. 

Tips on winning a tennis rally

To focus solely on our topic here, which is the rally, I will be skipping past the serve and return.

Instead, I’ll be focusing on general tips you can use to turn the rally in your favor:

Play to the opponent’s weakness

Everybody has a weakness in their game, you’ve just got to find it!

Once you have figured this out, it’s time to pressure the opponent on this weakness, as this will create a better chance that they might hit an unforced error.

For most players, their backhand will be weaker than their forehand, but not always!

That’s why you’ll often see players going after their opponent’s backhand, in both men’s and women’s tennis. 

Keep a good length on your shots

I can always remember the first coach I ever had telling me this. He used to say that if you hit your groundstrokes within a meter or so of the baseline.

How could the opponent then attack you?

I kept this advice with me throughout my career, and I must say – he was right.

With that said, you won’t be trying to hit all of your shots deep in the court, for it’s important to work your opponent around the court with the use of angles too. 

But if you are just trading from the baseline, it’s a good idea to keep your length and then wait for the right ball to attack.

Vary the shots

This is something that isn’t used enough in tennis. I can say this with absolute confidence, as I’ve witnessed players at all levels fall victim to the same mistake.

If you always hit the same type of shot, over and over again, the opponent will get used to it and then you won’t be able to surprise them with anything.

Therefore, why not mix up the speed of your groundstrokes, the height, and also adjust your position to give them a different view too? 

Play to your strengths

Just as you need to play to your opponent’s weaknesses, you need to play to your strengths.

For example, if you have a great down-the-line forehand, it wouldn’t make much sense to constantly hit your forehand cross-court!

It’s important that you know with absolute certainty what your strengths are too, as this will prove pivotal in the strategies and patterns of play that you use. 

My conclusion

I hope that this has helped you grasp what a rally entails, as well as provided an insight into some of the more intricate details.

I also hope that you can then use the tips I have given and introduce them into your own game, and I firmly believe that your tennis level will rise as a result of what I have talked about here.

Did you enjoy the piece? Feel free to add your comments below or share this piece with friends or family who might also find this information useful. 

What to wear to play tennis

What to wear to play tennis Andre Agassi
  • Make sure your clothing is comfortable and effective.
  • There is no rush regarding what clothes you purchase, so just take your time, do your research, and pick the right clothes for you!
  • Your choice of tennis clothes allows you to express a bit of personality.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

There is nothing worse than being out there on the court, whether in practice or in competition, and the clothing you have doesn’t feel right.

Unless you’re competing at Wimbledon, which has an all-white clothing requirement, you can pretty much wear whatever you like to play tennis. Of course, within reason!

A traditional player needs to have the right pair of tennis shoes, athletic shorts and t-shirts, comfortable socks, and other optional accessories.

People obviously have their own preferences concerning materials, styles, and brands, but I do have a FEW TIPS on what the correct clothing should be.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

My advice for every item of clothing

Tennis shoes

Arguably, this is the most important part of your tennis kit. Your tennis shoes need to be comfortable, with great padding, lightweight, and durable.

There are many BRANDS that create great tennis shoes these days, but I must say that Nike and Adidas are a cut above the rest.

Of course, you don’t have to select a pair of shoes from these guys, but just make sure that whatever shoes you do use, that you feel comfortable and unhindered when playing in them.

Trust me – your feet will thank you!

Shirt

You can pretty much choose three styles of shirts to play tennis in.

  1. You can go for a traditional polo shirt, which is often the choice for a guy like Federer.
  2. You can go for a standard t-shirt, without the collar
  3. Or you can go all guns BLAZING like Rafael Nadal – often seen wearing tank tops in his early career.

If you haven’t got the biceps for it, however, I’d stick to one of the first two options – unless you look something like this:

With this said, I do have a recommendation, especially since many of us play tennis in warmer climates.

When you purchase a shirt, make sure it has some form of cooling technology, as this will help to reduce sweat build-up, and it will keep you feeling comfortable out there on the court.  

Shorts

Once you’re all warmed up and raring to go, you’ll no doubt remove the sweatpants and start playing in your shorts.

Much like the shirts I’ve talked about above, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen shorts have a cooling material and that they aren’t overly heavy.

After all, you want to glide across the court as quickly and as EFFORTLESSLY as possible, so heavy shorts are a big no!

Another factor to think about is to ensure that the shorts have deep pockets. When serving, you will usually keep a ball in your pocket should a second serve need to be hit.

Although if your first serve does go in, you’ll then be playing the rally with a ball in your pocket.

Believe it or not, even professional players have become unstuck with this, as their pockets were not deep enough for the ball to stay in them.

If the ball actually flies out mid rally, you then need to play a let, not to mention that you might injure yourself by standing on the loose ball.

Socks

Choosing an appropriate pair of tennis socks will serve you well in the long run, trust me!

I’ve gone for cheap socks in the past, without assessing the padding and comfort, and ended up with blisters galore.

Not much fun!

So please, learn from my mistakes and get yourself a pair of socks that are made of soft material, and that have padding in all of the right areas.

Specifically, it’s important to pick socks that have padding in the heel, toes, and of course, this padding needs to be durable too. 

It’s no use picking a pair of socks with great padding that wears out within a few times of wearing them.

I usually purchase Adidas socks for playing, as they are somewhat cost-effective and highly comfortable. But it’s up to you which socks you go for. 

Optional extras

Now that I’ve covered the basics of what all tennis players need to have/wear, I’d like to throw in a few extras:

Hat

Personally, I cannot play in a hat. When wearing one, my depth perception always feels somewhat distorted – maybe it’s all in my head…

Who knows?

But if you are playing in the beaming sun, wearing a hat can be a good option, especially since it PROTECTS your face from the damaging rays.

Most hats are pretty similar in tennis, but just like the other items of clothing I’ve previously discussed, make sure it is lightweight and breathable.

Wristbands

Some players play without them, some play with one on their dominant wrist, and some use two!

I actually use a wristband on my right wrist (my dominant side), not because I wipe the sweat from my brow with it, but because it gives my wrist some support when striking the ball.

Again, this is completely optional, but if you are someone who sweats quite heavily out there on the court, it is definitely worth using at least one wristband.

Headband

There are two reasons that you might want to use a headband.

Firstly, if you have long hair, it is a good idea to use a headband to keep the hair out of your eyes.

But even if you have SHORT HAIR or no hair, you can still use a headband to stop the sweat from coming down into your eyes.

Remember James Blake?

The guy was as BALD as they come, but he used a headband for that specific reason.

Oh, and he was also a fantastic player!

If you adapt your tennis wardrobe based on the information here, let us know. Please let us know the impact on your game too, and do share your experience or insights in the comments!

How much do tennis coach’s make

How much do tennis coach's make
  • Anywhere from $30,000 – $100,000 depending on experience. Top elite tennis coach could make over $1 million.
  • Head tennis professional or director at a prestigious club can potentially earn six figures a year.
  • Experience, qualifications, geographical locations and what type of classes they teach play a significant factor.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Since I have personally worked as a tennis coach for a number of years in the past, I feel I am qualified to answer this common question.

For a direct answer, I’d have to say that it depends on:

  1. Where the coach is based
  2. Their Skill Level, and
  3. Their CLIENTELE

For example, a coach in the USA will generally be paid much more than a coach in the UK, and of course, this then varies throughout the world too.

I’ll be breaking down all of the factors that impact the EARNINGS of tennis coaches right now, so let’s get started.

Factors impacting a coaches earnings

Qualifications

Different countries have different coaching qualifications available. However, almost all jurisdictions will base a coach’s earning potential on their qualification level.

Here in the UK, a coach can be anything from a level 1 to a level 5 coach, and I know that this is quite different in the USA.

Basically, the more that a coach INVESTS in their career, meaning the more they rise through the ranks, the more they can charge. 

After all, there are only so many hours one coach can work in any given week, so the more they charge per hour, the more they will obviously make overall.

Experience

This is a big one in tennis coaching, believe me.

You could be the most qualified coach in the world, but if you’ve never worked at big clubs or managed to create decent players, you won’t have a whole load of CREDIBILITY.

Of course, experience also relates to how long you have been in the game. Although I have to admit, this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine!

I’ve seen plenty of coaches within the first 12 months of their career display more APTITUDE than coaches that have been in the game for 20+ years.

I’ve also seen coaches who weren’t great players prove to be fantastic coaches – just look at Richard Williams!

And I’ve witnessed amazing players really struggle with coaching. It all depends on the individual, but the more experienced and the better the CV, the more a coach will make.

Geographical location

As I’ve mentioned previously, the country that a tennis coach works in also impacts how much they will make.

I used to work as a tennis coach in the USA, specifically, New York.

Of course, this is quite an AFFLUENT part of the country, and indeed the world.

So naturally, tennis coaches can charge quite a premium for individual and group classes here.

However, if I was to coach tennis in South Carolina, just as an example, I would have been paid around half of the money.

So as you can see, not only does it depend on the country, it depends on the REGION of the country also.

Coming back to the UK, in the North, I know of tennis coaches that will STRUGGLE to make more than £25,000 per year.

But in London, coaches can easily make more than £40,000.

You’ve also got the costs of living in various places that impact this too, but I won’t run into that in great detail.

What classes they primarily teach

As a tennis coach, there are two ways of teaching the game.

You can either teach private lessons, or you can teach group lessons.

The former is where a tennis coach makes the most money, mainly because you are then supplying the client with your undivided attention for one hour.

This is the best way of learning and advancing your skills in the game, in my experience, so naturally, the costs involved are higher.

As an example, back in my teaching days in New York, I could charge as much as $100 for a one-hour individual class, at a private home.

But here’s an interesting one, if you receive 100% of the PROFIT from a lesson, sure, private lessons are the way to go.

But should you do group classes, where a client might be $30 each, and you’ve got 8 clients on the court, you are suddenly making $240 for one hour?

However, this isn’t always the case – as discussed in my next factor.

The club tennis coach work at and the structure

A tennis coach’s position at a club is one of the biggest factors of them all, as this usually dictates the cut received from lessons and classes.

I can use my own example again here to highlight this. I was classed as an assistant professional at my club, so while an individual lesson with me was $90, I would only receive $40.

Away from the club, I could charge $100 and receive all of it.

But if I was the director of the club, I could charge $90 and receive the whole thing, while BENEFITING from working at a club with a guaranteed flow of clients.

In terms of group classes, should you be anything but the head pro or a director, you will receive less than the private lessons.

Maybe a group class is bringing in $240 for the club, but if you’re an assistant professional, you will probably get around $30 or $35.

Hopefully, you can see the ENORMOUS IMPACT that a coach’s position in the club has on their earnings!

My conclusion

Is tennis coaching a good career?

I believe so. You certainly won’t get a better office!

Being OUTDOORS and running around a court all day is much better than being sat in a chair for 40 hours a week.

But in terms of their earnings, in certain parts of the world, the annual income might meet the national average or be a little higher.

If the coach is particularly ambitious, however, and they strive to become a head pro or a director at a PRESTIGIOUS CLUB, it’s not at all uncommon for a coach to bring in an income that is well into the six-figure range.

These jobs can be hard to come by, and they aren’t a walk in the park by any means, but hey – it beats an office job in my opinion!

Did you find this article useful? Are you now more aware of what a tennis coach actually makes? Let us know down below!

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