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

Penn State students, staff, faculty and campus visitors have the unique opportunity to play at the tennis center's clay courts, given the decline in popularity of traditional clay tennis courts, nationwide. Even though it is still standard in Europe, clay lanes have become uncommon in the US due to seasonal games and a dedication to maintenance. Although the clay lanes are less cost-effective to implement, the cost and time required to maintain the flat surface of clay lanes can be large. The maintenance needed for the more common pavement site is much less than a canvas, making the tennis center's clay courts even more rare for those on campus.

Bill Potoczny, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation for Tennis, shares the importance of an opportunity like this for all tennis players, especially students.

"Most of the clay courts you find these days belong to country clubs where fees are high," Potoczny explained. "We offer students a chance to try these courts at no cost."

Clay courts are soft, making it easier to play on the body and the ability to focus on form, rather than speed. Clay courts are preferred to newer players who are still comfortable with the game, but are also useful to 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 historic sport, and are loved by many tennis players everywhere.

"My favorite part about playing on clay is that you can really learn to play the game, run patterns and play," Potoczny shared. "There is some kind of beauty to play on courts against the idea that you just have to break a good ball and finish it."

Jessica Mancuso, a student staff member at the Tennis Center, has similar compliments about the clay courts.

"They are much nicer to play, especially in the hot weather," Mancuso explained. "I know these courts are rare and it would be good if everyone knew we had them."

Anyone interested in another type of game or just wanting to get out in the sun for an hour can contact the tennis center and reserve a court. Students and faculty can reserve the courts for free; People outside Penn State must pay a fee.

Outdoor Clay Tennis Courts officially opened May 1 and will remain open daily from 9am to 9am until November 1st (weather permissible). Proper tennis label is expected. To learn more about the tennis center and the opportunities to play, visit the Campus Recreation Student Affairs website or call 814-865-1381.

Last updated May 14, 2019