50 Shades of Clay
The clay surface at the Volvo Car Open is called “green clay.” Prevalent in the United States, green clay is the informal name of a surface called Har-Tru. Many players prefer the green because it is faster than the red clay of Europe. But don’t kid yourself: Red clay is arguably more demanding, but at least the color provides a certain degree of aesthetic comfort. Har-Tru might start off looking rather pristine, but as the match wears on, the courts take on a gray look that in time looks as worn and barren as the surface of the moon. To watch two players locked in battle on it – particularly on a windy day -- is to witness a significant form of trench warfare.
The Name Game
A frequent question voiced by spectators at all tournaments: “Who is that?” After all, it’s easy to spot the pros from the civilians – tall, lean, rather focused. But how disappointing to watch them stroll the grounds, enter the practice courts and remain anonymous. Herein, a suggestion: No matter what the occasion, pro players must always wear clothing or something on the back of their outfits with their last name on it. This will surely increase awareness, appreciation and engagement.
Return of the Great Dane: Caroline Wozniacki
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, Volvo Car Open champion in 2011, is back in Charleston for the first time in four years. She’s also here off the heels of a runner-up showing in Miami last week. Speaking to the press Tuesday afternoon, Wozniacki said, “I just really enjoy this tournament. It's very homey, it's always a big crowd. And I think that I just love the atmosphere here. So I'm happy to be back and I'm hoping for a good run.” But while the hard courts of Miami are the best surface for Wozniacki’s counterpunching game, clay can be a challenge. Once upon a time, clay court tennis was more about defense and attrition. But in recent years, amid changes in everything from strings to equipment and technique, the name of the game is racquet speed. How well Wozniacki fares in that area will likely tell her Charleston story.
Read more articles by Joel Drucker