Here's an interesting article about how tennis is improved by playing on soft surfaces, moving in all directions, and not concentrating on winning at early ages with obvious market implications.

Pitt T. Maner III comments:

One doesn't remember seeing the top Spanish players missing a lot of easy overheads, double-faulting on key points, and letting line decisions get into their heads. They are mentally prepared to grind it out and play with "corazon" and a bullfighter attitude—and an added touch of machismo for those long 5-set matches. The Spaniards look better able to play and adjust to windy conditions too.

From Chair's referenced article:

Jose Higueras, a former Spanish player who is now director of coaching at the US Tennis Association, believes that playing on slower-paced courts has taught the Spanish to become more athletic and make fewer mistakes. "If you grow up on hard courts, missing becomes a lot more normal because the courts are faster and you don't have much chance to get set up," he said. "On clay, the misses are normally not as acceptable."

The current physicality of tennis seems to favor body types that are generally lighter, faster and stronger. These players have become masters of taking away the advantage of bigger opponents possessing more powerful serves and groundstrokes. Federer, for instance, has an unbelievable ability to return balls hit hard at him that would normally break down a player's stroke and cause a weak return.

Federer's fastest, well-placed serves at around 120-125 mph also are extremely effective (he had an 18-2 ace advantage over Soderling last night). The 6' 3'' to 6' 7'' players with the ability of hitting the 130-140 mph serves know they will have to hold serve almost every game against Roger or Rafael Nadal. That adds a lot of pressure, particularly on getting the first serve in.On the physical nature of tennis played with the modern, powerful racquets:

Training guru Mackie Shilstone, who has worked with Serena Williamssince 2008 and has educated many elite athletes, says tennis is among the most taxing activities on muscles, joints and tendons.

"I've seen it all," says Shilstone, whose clients range from boxer Roy Jones Jr., to baseball's San Francisco Giantsand hockey's St. Louis Blues. "It is one of the most grueling sports you will ever encounter."

I think most free, community tennis courts in the S. FLA area are hard because you have to maintain clay courts and that costs money and makes it necessary to charge fees that are somewhat stiff to the average Joe who can more readily find a free football or baseball field or basketball field to play on.


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