Monday, December 17, 2012

New clay courts best surface for young players

Amy Bainbridge

Updated December 11, 2012 13:45:22

Tennis Australia has opened eight new clay courts at Melbourne Park as part of the $366 million redevelopment of the precinct.

Tennis champion Todd Woodbridge says clay is the best training surface for up-and-coming stars.

"It gives you the opportunity to learn offensive tennis, defensive tennis, more importantly they can do the workloads that are necessary on young bodies. It doesn't hurt them," he said.

"If you play on hard court too often, they often get issues with knees and backs.

"So this is the perfect development surface, we haven't had it as it is in Australia before."

The courts are made up of five layers. The three base layers are made from Australian materials.

The top two layers, known as the "hard of the court" and the dust have been imported from Italy.

Former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald says the courts are as good as any in the world.

He says they will give young players the chance to practise on a European surface.

"When we talk about clay courts, it's not just a third of the world's tournaments that are played on clay, it is the best court surface to teach a young tennis player his craft," Fitzgerald said.

"The game's changed. So we need to adapt and we need the best surface possible for our young kids to learn on, and this is it.

"It shows them how to understand the construction of a point, and it gets them to understand what you need to have longevity in a point."

Victorian Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty says Melbourne Park's redevelopment is on track.

"We'll be the only Grand Slam event in the world with three covered courts and that gives us a very strong advantage competing against all the other countries in the world," he said.

"There's a lot of other countries in the world that would love to get the Australian Open off us, but this $366 million development ensures that we keep it until 2036."

Tags: tennis, melbourne-3000

First posted December 11, 2012 11:01:07

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