Sport & Leisure

Why Hyndland’s Western club thinks new £50,000 court is the future for Scots tennis

By Ian Marland at

A West End tennis club has invested £50,000 in a new type of artificial surface which it says could revolutionise the way the game is coached in Scotland.

Anyone passing Western Health & Racquets Club in recent days will have seen the earth turn red.

Out has gone the old green artificial grass playing surface – and in its place is a new artificial ‘clay’ surface.

Future: Artificial clay courts are slower and easier to play in wet weather.

The big difference about the new court is not just its colour – it’s the special sand that goes over the artificial fibres.

This absorbs water and makes it easier to play on when its raining or wet.

According to Ian Campbell, tennis coach and manager at the popular sports club on Hyndland Road, these are perfect qualities for playing tennis in a Scottish climate.

Ian says: “The magic of the silicon sand is that when the ball bounces it does not bounce like it does on a normal artificial grass court – it bounces like a real clay court.

“From a distance it looks like a real clay court – but more importantly the ball bounces up like it does on a clay court, high and slow.”

Ian says the spec meets all the criteria for a professional playing surface in the eyes of the International Tennis Federation.

“The balls don’t get as heavy in the wet on this type of surface.

Fitted: The new surface is extremely tough and durable.

“It means you can play decent quality tennis.

“When you a hit a ball reasonably hard on a normal artificial grass court, it moves too fast for most people – and especially beginners, who struggle to get rallies going.”

What difference will players, especially beginners, see when they play on the new surface?

Ian says: “Clay courts are generally considered in the coaching world to be the best to develop players, so it is great for developing kids’ tennis.

Ian Campbell:

“The magic of the silicon sand is that when the ball bounces it does not bounce like it does on a normal artificial grass court – it bounces like a real clay court.

“From a distance it looks like a real clay court – but more importantly the ball bounces up like it does on a clay court, high and slow.”

“They have to rally longer; they learn how to structure a point; how to be patient in their build-up; physically you get better- there are so many advantages to it.

“Of all the top players over the last 20 to 30 years, I would say 90 per cent of them have developed their games on clay courts.”

And Ian believes the new surface is the way forward for many city clubs like his, where playing indoors is not an option.

“For any British tennis club with our climate, this surface, in my view, is a no-brainer.

“It’s so expensive and difficult to set up indoor tennis courts in built-up areas like this.

Success: Western Health & Raquets Club has 700 members.

“For many clubs that is just not going to happen.

“This is a much cheaper option to have quality tennis than indoors.

“As much as I really welcome the Lawn Tennis Association’s decision to invest money in indoor courts, the money will only be able to fund so many centres.

“Whereas three artificial clay courts can be set up for as little as £40,000 to £50,000.

“I think there is an opportunity – if this surface takes off – to have quality tennis over large parts of Britain, whereas the indoor tennis route is always going to be limited.”

The Edel carpet was supplied and fitted by midlothian company Ecosse Sports.

The only other club in Glasgow with the surface is Whitecraigs in the south of the city.

The club on Hyndland Road currently has 700 members.