Why Do Tennis Courts Face North-South?

Tennis courts all around the world have their own uniqueness to them. While there are certain restrictions depending on location, most companies that install tennis courts look to situate them a certain way. That means putting the baselines on the north and south sides.

Why Do Tennis Courts Face North-South? The goal of facing tennis courts in a north-south direction is to avoid the sun as much as possible. If the sun rises or sets right behind a player, it can be nearly impossible for the opposition to see. The sun will be located to the side of the court, only affecting play at certain times with a player’s ball toss.

The Sun’s Effect On Tennis

Tennis has predominantly been played outdoors through the years, meaning that the sun will always affect the game. Players are constantly trying to battle looking into the sun, since it can blind the player to the point that they can’t finish out a ball in play.

Companies building tennis courts have been trying to limit the impact the sun has on a match for quite some time. Whether it be trees or walls put in place to block the sun, anything can help to some degree.

This is one of the major reasons why so many constructors are very adamant about putting the sun in a certain location. By positioning the court just the right way, the sun’s effect on tennis can be greatly minimized.

Sun Issues With North-South Courts

Even though this setup is supposed to help out with vision, there are still some complications people face when playing on these courts. It mostly comes down to hitting serves, since the ball sometimes finds its way right in the middle of the sun.

Serves In The Middle of The Day

The sun is inevitably going to be in the way at some point for every tennis player. That’s because each toss goes up in the air and can be right in line with where the sun currently sits.

There are usually some creative ways around the sun being this much of an issue. For example, people can decide to serve in a slightly different way so they are not looking into the light.

They can also take fewer risks so that they are less likely to double fault. It’s never ideal, but it’s beneficial for players to approach it the right way.

Overheads and Lobs

Overheads and lobs can also be complicated even if the sun is to the side of the court. People look up when the ball is in the air, and the sun can instantly be a distraction.

Players usually find themselves once again not taking as many risks when they are hitting the shots. It can be a defensive shot for those on the run and wanting to buy themselves some time. By hitting the ball up into the sun, it challenges the opposition to make a decision.

Dealing with Sun Issues

Tennis players are commonly forced to deal with some type of sun issue while playing. Everyone’s a little bit different, but there are ways to get through it.

Sunglasses

A pair of sunglasses can greatly reduce the vision issues players might have when the sun is in the way. Sun issues have become so much of a problem that companies have put out sunglasses specifically made for sports like tennis.

It is a little bit of getting used to, but most people can start to play tennis with sunglasses on just fine. Pro players will even do it from time to time, even though it would seem like just the slightest variation would throw off timing.

It’s recommended to go with non-polarized sunglasses on the tennis court, because polarized glasses can change depth perception just slightly. I listed my recommendations in this post.

Hats

A hat is a huge tool for any tennis player to have when battling sun position. One of the best things about hats is that they can be tilted in any direction to block the sun as much as possible.

They will always be that little bit of sun not blocked during a toss before a serve. Most players have to battle through it all and hope for the best. Since the sun is constantly moving, it usually tends to only be a major issue for a game or two. If you’re interested, I listed my favorite tennis hats in this post.

Sunblock

Sunblock won’t help players handle the sun traditionally, but it’s still an essential part of getting ready for any tennis match. It’s pretty easy to get burnt out on the court, so wearing sunblock will keep the skin safe and comfortable.

Too many players make the poor decision of not putting sunblock on when they prepare for a match. The next thing they know, the skin can turn red and become irritated even during play.

If it’s early in the season, it’s particularly important to put on sunscreen and stay safe. All types of skin tones can burn, so never assume it’s safe.

Lights Issues at Night

Playing tennis at night can be a cooler experience during a hot day. However, some complications go with lights. In fact, a lot of similar issues that people have with the sun can also be an issue with lights.

Many modern tennis facilities have done a great job of making their lights strategically placed so that players don’t look directly into them. With that said, it’s impossible to eliminate it.

There will still be bright lights that players will stare into throughout the match. Not only that, but poorly lit lights can also be a hindrance because there are dark spots scattered throughout the court.

Do Other Sports Consider North-South Direction?

Most basketball players will notice that the outdoor court will face the same direction as tennis courts. This is to make sure that shooters aren’t looking into the sun when they are going towards the basket. There will always be sunspots from the corners, but it’s much better than having it right behind the backboard.

Football fields also follow the same type of setup as soccer fields. The majority of them run north-south, with a little bit of a twist. A lot of modern fields are slightly tilted running northwest to southeast. This is because, in the northern hemisphere, the sun stays a little bit to the south throughout the day.

Soccer has pretty much adopted the same strategy, with some slight variation depending on where the stadium is located. 

It might seem crazy to think that indoor courts and stadiums follow the same setup, but that’s exactly the case. It sometimes has to do with s[ace, but most of them keep the same north-south orientation. 

Why Every Tennis Court Should Be North-South

It takes one match on a tennis court with severe sun problems to realize how important it is to have courts going from north to south. While they don’t need to be exact, they do need to stay away from an east-west orientation.

The sun is part of any outdoor sport. Players eventually need to deal with it in some way, but unnecessary issues like placing the sun behind one baseline is an avoidable challenge.

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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