Clear Creek Tahoe boasts only red clay courts in the area

Along with the red clay tennis courts at Clear Creek Tahoe's summer camp, pickleball courts and pool access are right next door.

Along with the red clay tennis courts at Clear Creek Tahoe's summer camp, pickleball courts and pool access are right next door.

Clear Creek Tahoe, a private residential community located in the mountains of Carson City off of Highway 50, is known for its golf course but now the club has a new attraction.

Open to its members are three new Italian red clay courts by Har-Tru, replicating the surface used by the professionals at Roland Garros in the French Open.

The three courts standalone and are separated individually by fences, but open up to the Sierras in the background.

Head tennis pro Justin Clark stated the courts are the only ones of their kind within 500 miles and offer health benefits to players who are looking for a softer surface than hard court.

“The movement and the sliding really works with your footwork,” said Clark. “If you grew up on clay, you have to really develop your footwork because you get bad bounces.”

Clay is a lower-impact surface, which not only slows down a tennis ball, but also causes less physical strain on the body and joints than running on a hard court surface.

The clay sits upon a red mat and settles into the surface over time, which has occurred over the last year at Clear Creek as water and snow helped to compact the clay.

There are other clay courts around the Sierras, but they are of the green variety commonly known by the brand name “Har-Tru,” which plays with almost all of the same characteristics found in the Italian red clay at Clear Creek, but is more at the mercy of proper care.

When the winter weather rolls around, clay court seasons can be brief due to the amount of care needed to keep the surfaces playable.

Clark noted the benefits of the red clay includes less watering before and after play as well as less rolling to keep the surface of the court level.

“You get a longer season, you get the benefits of how it affects your body positively and you get less maintenance,” said Clark. “It’s a win-win-win.”

When in season, the courts are playable from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all seven days of the week to the clubs’ members.

“The cool thing about these courts is we can play on them in January if we have those 70 degree weeks,” said Clark.

One of the biggest differences with the red clay courts are the lines. The boundaries are glued directly onto the surface as opposed to the green clay where the lines of play are tacked down.

Tacked down lines leave the possibility that a player could catch the line with his shoe or racket and rip up the lines, requiring it to be fixed.

The courts sit around 5,800 feet in elevation at a midway point between Carson City and Spooner Summit.

With the elevation, players should use high-elevation balls that are inflated with less pressure to keep the bounces as though the courts were at sea level.

“If you played with real tennis balls ... they’ll act like racquetballs. There is no playability,” said Clark.

Court perks

One of the courts features a backboard, allowing solo members to work on their game and adjust to the surface. Clear Creek also offers two types of ball machines for adult members while also having the complete USTA junior tennis ball system for younger members trying to pick up the game.

Clear Creek offers a program for junior players, adult programs for doubles and singles as well as clinics and free play-ins.

Adults that take advantage of the clinics will also receive a free beverage following the instruction.

Next to the three clay tennis courts are pickleball courts, fire pits, a pool, locker rooms and grill service.


Those wishing to view the facilities for potential membership can visit the Clear Creek Tahoe sales office to set up a tour.

With the courts only being available to members, pricing for a membership varies depending on if you own property at the club.

A golf membership is available to those who live outside of the grounds for an annual rate of $9,120 with a $50,000 initiation fee.

Anyone who owns a lot at Clear Creek Tahoe can pay for a social membership at an annual rate of $6,240 with an initial fee of $40,000. Both memberships will grant access to the tennis facilities.

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