Clay court season begins at the Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key Club
As clay court season gets under way, the Sarasota Open, the preeminent tennis tournament in Southwest Florida, starts on April 14 and goes til April 22. Now in its fifth year, it is the most prestigious clay court event prior to the French Open. The clay court season is the most challenging for some players, however, because the clay diminishes the effect of a powerful serve and requires greater patience to win points.
On clay courts, balls bounce relatively high and more slowly, making it difficult to hit an outright winner. This makes it hard for serve-based players to dominate on this surface. The slower bounce, however, allows for bigger back swings which can generate extra power and the higher bounce calls for a more skillful forehand. In addition, because clay is slippery, playing on it often involves the ability to slide into the ball during the stroke, as opposed to running and stopping like on a hard or grass court. This means the clay court player must exercise patience and control, and develop a great deal of lower body strength in order to avoid all the leg strains and injuries that could be caused as they slide.
It’s unfortunate that the American tennis players struggle on clay. Almost all European and South American players grow up playing on it which puts the Americans at a disadvantage. Clay courts are making a comeback, however, and Florida is the perfect place for this type of court. The prevalence of clay courts tends to coincide with the warmth and humidity of the climate. Clay is also much cooler under a hot sun than a hard court. In some hot, dry climates, the difficulty of keeping clay courts watered makes them rare, but where heat and water are both plentiful, such as in Florida, clay is especially popular.
The Sarasota Open is scheduled to return to the Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key Club, and this year there is an increased prize purse of 100K for the Men’s Invitational Tournament and the addition of a Ladies Invitational Tournament. The weeklong event will include qualifying rounds for men’s and women’s tournaments, finals rounds and a final championship tournament. Tickets to the Sarasota Open range from $5 for Qualifying Round general admission tickets to $100 (Finals Round) Box Seats. Finals will be held on April 22, 2012.
There is still a need for ball persons to work the tournament. Ball persons receive free tickets for two family members for the first three days of the tournament — April 14-16.
Call (941) 809-8996 or visit sarasotaopen.org for more tournament information.