I’m a fan! Honestly, Clay Court Season…a HUGE fan! So much so that this year, I forewent my usual Ode to Clay poetry and jumped straight into a Fan Letter!
You may be wondering, “Why the fanfare, Frazier?”
Well, I’ve always enjoyed the clay court season. You break up the monotony of hardcourts, which are played for the rest of the season, with the exception of the very short grass court season that leads up to Wimbledon. You give me something different to look at. The style is different. You see red (sometimes green) courts, long slides into shots, lots of topspin, and the surprise, “gotcha”, drop shots that fall just over the net, leaving the opponent running from deep behind the baseline, to get it.
You are the great equalizer, Clay Courts. It takes special skills to be successful on clay, and not everyone has them. It’s difficult to find a player whose games translates to all three surfaces well. We need look no further than to the King of Clay, himself, Rafa Nadal. Although he’s had success on other surfaces, no one will argue he is the greatest clay court player of all time.
Last year, the pandemic really did a number on the Clay Court Season. Most of the tournaments were cancelled or postponed, with the French Open being played AFTER the US Open, in Fall! That is literally unheard of! And yet, it was heard of! It really had me messed up!
So this year, I am going to celebrate you! Every topspin-fueled baseline rally, to every finessed drop shot. Every slide, every awkward bounce, every time the chair umpire has to get out of his perch from above to examine a ball mark. All of it!! Because I’ve missed you and I’m glad you’re back!