The clay season is underway and will end for most players at the French Open. However, for myself and many other challenger players the clay season doesn’t last for just a month. There are many challenger tournaments throughout the year on this surface (mostly in South America and Europe). And I plan on playing 8 clay tournaments over the next couple months in Europe. Although I will not be playing the French, I will have a long schedule of tournaments on the dirt.
While some players choose to play as few tournaments on clay as possible, I embrace the dirt. It suits my game quite well and I really enjoy playing on it. The biggest reason is because it allows me to play to my strengths, namely using my forehand and fitness. Although I did not grow up playing on it, once I got the movement down I have always enjoyed playing on clay. It is unique in that it allows and basically requires players to learn to slide in order to hit certain shots. It also slows the ball down which results in many long rallies. Therefore to win points a player really has to have good shot selection and be able to develop the point. Short easy points are rarely won on clay.
I only played one junior tournament on clay, so my experience on it has mainly all been in the last few years playing on tour. It’s definitely a tough transition going from playing on hard courts your whole life to suddenly be playing on a court with dirt all over it! But my biggest piece of advice for any junior or any player trying to learn how to play on clay would be to get used to sliding and all movement as quickly as possible. Learn to slide and trust the clay. Once that happens and a person feels comfortable on it, the game becomes really fun. As long as you are patient and willing to play to your strengths and develop points any player can have success on it.