One might not see them, but they are always there long time before, during and after the tennis events, and without them, no one could play. The clay courts must be created, carefully laid, pampered. At the Foro Italico, 60 people are working to prepare the 14 courts used by the players at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. We met the responsible person for the maintenance of the courts during the tournament, Pierluigi Troiani, who has been doing this job with passion and great professionalism for over 30 years. “This activity is pure maintenance, every day,” said Troiani.
Talking about clay courts, or the red clay, is reductive. It’s true, in fact, that most of the tennis courts with this surface are made of red clay, but clay can also be green, blue, grey, brown, yellow and synthetic clay.
“We select special mixtures of powders obtained from stones, treated through technological processes to ensure durability and high performing characteristics. We also offer advanced mixtures with special preparations to increase drainage, in order to reduce maintenance over time,” Troiani explained.
“The clay in Rome is “100% made in Italy, a type of grounded brick with particular granulometry. It is completely natural, as no dye is required for its tint. The colour is very red because it is made of bricks from the Ferrara area of the Po Valley, where the clay is very rich in iron”.
Troiani travels all over the world building tennis fields. The USTA, the US Federation of Tennis, wanted to recreate in Orlando an identical surface to that of the Foro Italico and requested the same recipe of clay on as the one of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
“Orlando has a very different climate than the Rome, it’s tropical, but players all go there to train before they come to Europe,” Trojani said.
After all, as Novak Djokovic said in the press conference, “the clay is alive”. And it also changes with weather conditions.
“This year it reminds me of 2019, but all fields are manageable. Our favourite one is the Pietrangeli, which is the most beautiful arena in the world,” he said. “The biggest enemy, besides wind, is rain. To protect the courts, we use coconut carpets or nylon covers. When it is very wet, we use the nylon net to spread out the water and then the coco carpet to dry.”