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Is There a Rule That Governs Acceptable Surfaces For Match Play?

tennis court in need of repair

Tennis Rules

Is There a Rule That Governs Acceptable Surfaces For Match Play?

I’ve been a league player for years and I’ve played on all types of jacked up court surfaces (though not during actual league matches)… even badly cracked hard courts that had little weeds growing all over them! But I never thought about whether or not the surfaces had to meet certain standards for league match play.

A couple of weekends ago, I was playing tennis with a couple of friends and one of their friends, Betty, who was visiting from Florida. It was competitive and so much fun, and afterward, we went to La Madeleine (yum!!) for a nice lunch and some girl talk.

Well, tennis players can’t keep from talking about the sport we love for long, and soon the conversation turned to our leagues and court surfaces, of all things. Betty mentioned a team on one of her leagues that has home courts she described as Astroturf carpeting on cement with sand sprinkled on it. Ugh! It’s the dreaded synthetic turf. (I hate that surface!) When it’s new, it looks and plays much like a grass court, but this, she said, needed to be replaced badly.

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The surface was very uneven due to the many spots that had completely worn through to the cement, creating “pits”, and because the sand was all but gone, this gave the balls crazy and unexpected bounces. Betty also said that the home-team ladies all wore appropriate tennis shoes while she and her teammates only had regular shoes which occasionally caused them to slip and slide during play.

So, her question to me was if there is any USTA rule that governs acceptable court surfaces for league match play.

I had never thought about it before, and honestly thought there would be something…but nope! As it turns out, there is absolutely nothing in the rules of tennis or in the USTA league regulations that define what is or isn’t an allowable surface for a tennis court, even though the home team will have the advantage in cases like hers.

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I think there should be something regarding this…how ’bout you? Does the condition of the court surface matter to you? Post your comments below!

4.5 USTA rated/open champion level tennis player, vegan, fitness freak, animal lover, and smart ass who firmly believes that champagne is anathema for all ills. Right now I'm either up to my eyeballs in paint swatches and fabric samples, or kicking some butt on a tennis court (hopefully the latter).

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