12 March 2020

Sound decisions

Here at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, we have been enjoying the experience of playing on clay where ITF tournaments are held. But in the often-contentious problem of calling the lines, the red stuff has some unexpected advantages

Clay is the only surface where ball mark inspections may be made and being able to point to the mark where the ball landed is one of the great advantages of playing a match on the red stuff. You also get to know the marks. Top spin shots which land vertically make nice round marks; sliced balls make a different and bigger impression. 

The longer the match goes on, and the more marks you make with your feet, the more difficult it can be to see the precise mark, but clay has a secret advantage in line calling:

You can hear the balls which land on the lines!

They make a hard sound instead of a softer, sometimes gravelly sound and even balls that land half on the line and half on the surface are obliging enough to be audible. The more you play on the surface, the more you can distinguish it, but the  the disadvantage is that if a balls lands bang on the line, you won't be able to see the mark.

If that happens, you must accept it and not do what one player did this week. She called out a ball that landed on the line and when asked to indicated the mark said "It's either this one or this one." That is forbidden! As in all line calling, you must be absolutely sure and on clay, when you are backing up your decision, you may point at one mark and one mark only.