Clay courts provide unique tennis-playing experience for students

May 14, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Spring classes are over, but many University Park students spend their summer on campus. For those who are still on campus and are looking for something fun to do, the sun is out and the Tennis Center, a unit of Campus Recreation within Student Affairs, has just the activity for those in need of something different during their long Summer.

Penn State students, employees, faculty and campus visitors have the unique opportunity to play on the Tennis Center’s clay courts, given the decline in popularity of traditional clay for tennis courts, nationwide. Though still standard in Europe, clay courts have become uncommon in the United States, due to seasonal play and a dedication to maintenance. Although clay courts are less cost-heavy to implement, the cost and time required for maintaining the flat surface of clay courts can be hefty. The maintenance necessary for the more common pavement court is much less than that of a clay court, making the Tennis Center’s clay courts even more of a rarity for those on campus.

Bill Potoczny, assistant director of Campus Recreation for tennis, shares how important an opportunity like this is for all tennis players, especially students.

“Most of the clay courts you will find, these days, belong to country clubs where fees are high,” Potoczny explained. “We’re offering students the chance to try out these courts for no cost at all.” 

Clay courts are soft, which allow an easier play on the body and the ability to focus on form, rather than speed. Clay courts are preferred for newer players who are still getting comfortable with the game, yet also are useful for experienced athletes who can use sliding maneuvers on clay courts that other types of courts do not allow. Clay courts also offer a traditional look for a historical sport, and are beloved by many tennis players everywhere. 

“My favorite part about playing on clay is you can really learn how to play the game, running patterns and plays,” Potoczny shared. “There’s a sort of beauty to playing on courts versus the idea that you’re just going to crack one good ball and be done with it.” 

Jessica Mancuso, a student employee in the Tennis Center has similar compliments about the clay courts.

“They are much nicer to play on, especially in the warm weather,” Mancuso explained. “I know that these courts are rare, and it’d be great if everyone knew that we had them.”  

Anyone who is interested in a different form of play or just wants to get out in the sun for an hour, may contact the Tennis Center and reserve a court. Students and faculty may reserve the courts for free; non-Penn State individuals must pay a fee. 

Outdoor Clay Tennis Courts officially opened May 1 and will remain open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., until Nov. 1 (weather permitted). Proper tennis etiquette is expected. To learn more about the Tennis Center and opportunities to play, visit the Campus Recreation Student Affairs website or call 814-865-1381.


Last Updated August 30, 2019