How Long For a Tennis Court To Dry?

There’s nothing worse than being ready to play in a tennis match, only for the rain to get in the way. It seems like way too many people have been thrown off by weather delays at the recreational levels.

Even some of the most important matches in tennis history have also temporarily been postponed because of poor weather.

To get the courts in playing condition again, what does it take? This is a look at the drying process so players can get back to playing.

How Long Does it Take for a Tennis Court to Dry? Drying a tennis court generally takes 1-2 hours, but the amount of time it takes depends on weather, location, court surface, and more. There are ways to speed up the drying process, but all courts need a little bit of time to get everything back in working order.

Drying Time On The Different Surfaces

SurfaceTime To Dry
Hard Court60-90 Minutes
Clay Court30-60 Minutes (Not completely dry, but playable)
Grass Court1-3 Hours (Needs to be completely dry)

Hard Courts

  • 60-90 Minutes

Hard court lines and the first thing to get slippery when wet. It can take a little bit of sprinkling rain, but anything more than that makes it too slick for players to move around on.

The paint doesn’t handle rain as well, which is why players can easily lose their footing.

The great news about hard courts is that they are relatively easy to dry out. Not only can the court dry out because of the weather, but there are plenty of pieces of equipment that help with the process as well.

Courts that have a small slope to them dry off faster, since the water rolls off.

Clay Courts

  • Playable after 30-60 minutes (Depending on the weather conditions)

Clay courts are the best at taking any type of precipitation. Not only can they absorb a lot of water, but they can be played on when there is some light rain as well. It’s the only surface where pros will play in light rain and not feel forced to stop.

Water is so much of a non-issue to a certain level that some players prefer them to be a little wet. It slows the ball down a little bit, and some players feel like they get slightly better movement.

The biggest problem with getting clay courts back into playing condition after a hard rain is that puddles can start to form. When there is heavy rain, it’s much harder for puddles to go away and mud to not form as well.

There’s a fine line between tennis courts being a little bit wet, and a ton of mud that makes it impossible to move around. When this is the case, it can take an hour or more for the clay courts to dry out, even with the sun shining.

Grass Courts

  • 1-3 hours (Needs to be completely dry)

Grass needs a lot of water to stay green and healthy, but during a match, it can be a disaster. Grass is already slick as-is, and it gets so much worse when there is rain coming down.

It doesn’t take much rain at all for a pause during a grass-court match until further notice.

As far as the drying out process is concerned, grass does a pretty good job of that. There are ways to blow off the grass and speed up the process as well.

There’s always a delicate line with grass since it is the most fragile of all the surfaces, but the average player usually doesn’t have to deal with these issues.

Indoor Courts

  • 1-10 Minutes (Depending on the equipment)

Believe it or not, there are instances when indoor courts will get wet. Maybe there is too much moisture inside, and there is a little bit of slipperiness to the ground.

An even bigger issue occurs when there is a leak in the ceiling, and water is dropping down in one particular area.

Since most of these indoor courts are hard courts, the same type of cleanup is going to work. The hard part is actually finding this equipment, since it’s usually not near the indoor facility.

Towels can usually do the job when fixing some of the smaller issues.

When Is a Court Officially Too Wet To Play On?

To see if a tennis court is getting too wet, test out the lines for a good idea. These are either painted on or made of a material that gets wet faster than every other part of the court.

Most players and umpires will run their feet across the lines to see if the court is playable or not. If there is any slippage, it’s smarter to postpone rather than play through.

You can read more about playing on wet tennis courts in this post.

What Are The Best Ways To Speed Up The Drying Process?

To speed up the drying process, there are different ways to go about it. Depending on the budget someone has to work with, there are tools available to get people playing once again.

Towels

Using towels is best for when there are just minor puddles on the court. Maybe the court isn’t in the best shape, and small puddles form here and there.

It’s a quick way to soak up some water and get everything in playing order once again.

Tarps and Covers

This has more to do with preventing rain from hitting the ground in the first place, rather than drying up a wet surface. Tarps and covers do work to a certain degree, but they need to be placed down regularly for the best protection.

Folding them up and getting them out of the way is another issue. They must be handled just the right way so that the water does not leak back onto the court.

It usually takes a team of individuals to help with tarps and covers, which is why it’s not always feasible for the average facility.

Rollers

This might be the most cost-effective way to handle drying a tennis court. They make them available for all court services, so make sure to get the right one.

Rollers can even attach to the fence so that they are out of the way when not in use.

Fans and Large Dryers

On the more expensive side are fans and large dryers that some locations will invest in. Usually, they have a pretty big budget, and they have one dryer for the entire facility.

This isn’t going to dry out the entire place anytime soon, but it does a great job of fixing up a particular court to get ready to play.

Playing The Waiting Game With Wet Courts

No one likes having to wait for wet courts, but it’s part of the outdoor tennis experience. Anyone who plays tennis regularly understands the frustration, but it’s part of life.

There are great ways to speed up the drying process, but sometimes it’s just a matter of letting Mother Nature handle things.

Fred Simonsson

I'm Fred, the guy behind TennisPredict. Apart from writing here, I play tennis on a semi-professional level and coach upcoming talents.

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