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Abstract

We've heard that some types of tennis courts are "faster" than others. Why are some competitions played on hard courts (eg. U.S. Open), whilst others (eg. Wimbledon) are played on grass? This science fair project was performed to determine how the surface of a tennis court affects the speed of the game. Testing was done on a clay, grass and asphalt tennis court surfaces.

Hypothesis

A tennis ball will bounce fastest on a asphalt tennis court surface.

Background

Tennis court surfaces

A tennis court is the place where tennis games are played. It consists of a rectangular flat surface that is made of either clay, grass or asphalt. Besides these, artificial turf, as well as rubberized surfaces are used for indoor courts. A low net is strung in the middle of the court dividing it into two. Depending on the athlete’s style of playing, the type of court surface played on can influence the game and give one player an advantage over another.
A clay court is made out of crushed stone, shale or brick. It is normally built on a concrete foundation and will have a smooth surface. Tennis ball speeds are normally reduced when they bounce on a clay surface. Long rallies are normally played on clay courts and this gives an advantage to players whose strength is in playing at the baseline.

Playing on a grass court will require fast play. This is because the uneven grass surface will make the ball bounce fast, low and unpredictably. Players whose strengths are in their serve and volleying tend to perform better on a grass court due to erratic and unpredictable ball movement as the ball bounces of the grass surface.Baseline players will be at a disadvantage.

The asphalt court is the most common type of tennis court. The firm, flat and even surface makes it easier to predict the movement of the ball when it bounces off the hard surface. This court is regarded as the most "neutral" court, and most players are able to play well on this type of court (compared to the other types), regardless of their strengths. The US Open is played on hard courts.
 

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
70
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 1 day for the science project experiment
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements