每日英語跟讀 Ep.K394: Of Red Clay and French Existentialism
The most prominent feature of the French Open is that this Grand Slam tournament takes place on the rusty red clay of Roland Garros, a beloved detail that is as much a part of local culture and tradition as the bouquinistes that sell art and used books along the Seine.
And yet, as it so often is in the country that claims Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir, the relationship between France and its “terre bateau” is a little more complicated.
This red clay that comes from a small brick factory in Oise, north of Paris, elicits so much love.
But the clay has also become a symbol of deep frustration. A Frenchwoman has not won the singles championship that this country so treasures, the one that requires more grit but also more thought than any other, since Mary Pierce in 2000. A Frenchman has not won it in 39 years, since Yannick Noah in 1983.
The answer likely has a lot to do with a central contradiction in the home of red clay’s biggest stage. Just 11.5% of the tennis courts in France are made of the traditional red clay and most of those are in private clubs. Another 16.5% of courts are made of an imitation clay surface that is similar to the terre bateau but plays harder and faster than the softer traditional clay.
Winning on clay requires a Ph.D. in what coaches and players call point construction, which is shorthand for playing tennis like chess, thinking not only about this next shot but three shots down the line. Learning that to the point where it is instinctual can take years, and like most things, the earlier one starts training the brain to think that way, the better.
“On clay, the fight really goes on and on,” said Aurelio Di Zazzo, a coach at the Tennis Club of Paris. “The longer the effort, the more you have to use your mind.”
The club, which is less than 1 mile from Roland Garros, tries to carry red clay’s torch as best it can. That torch is not cheap. Maintaining the courts requires four full-time employees, and new clay costs more than $2,000 a year for each court. Each court must be entirely dug up and redone every 15 years, costing more than $30,000 per court.
Levy said it is worth it.
“This clay is a part of France,” he said.
他說：「紅土球場是法國的一部分。」Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/6379673