Tennis Industry magazine

 

Trick Out Your Courts!

You can spruce up your facility in just a few days and make it even more appealing for players.

By Mary Helen Sprecher

You can spruce up your facility in just a few days and make it even more appealing for players.

The club tournament is coming up, tennis camp registrations are coming in and membership recruitment is under way. Your courts need a facelift — a do-it-yourself, one-weekend facelift — if such a thing exists.

Sure thing, say professionals in the tennis court industry. Assuming the courts are structurally sound, it’s just a matter of cleaning off and sprucing up.

court maintenance

Court Surface Care

“Outdoor all-weather courts should be cleaned on a regular basis,” says Bill Righter of Nova Sports USA in Milford, Mass. “Any loose dirt should be removed by sweeping or blowing. If the court is shaded and has mildew growing on it, the mildew should be removed by washing the area with a solution of one gallon of water, one cup of HTH, and two tablespoons of liquid dish detergent. Apply the solution with a stiff nylon brush or broom and let stand for 20 minutes, then rinse well.”

court maintenance

If using a power-washer, say the pros, use caution. “Power-washing is a great way to give new life to a dirty or stained hard court,” says Mark Brogan of Pro-Sport Construction in Devon, Pa. “However, this should be done by a qualified person with experience using a power-washer. Surface cleaning machines connected to a power-washer offer excellent results with minimal risk of damage to the court. Owners should be very careful about allowing persons to power-wash with a hand-held wand as many courts are damaged and the final result can be very inconsistent.”

We’ve found in some cases that hard court owners are pleasantly surprised after a pressure washing,” adds Lee Murray of Competition Athletic Surfaces Inc. in Chattanooga, Tenn. “This may buy them a year or so before they feel a recoating is needed.”

Jonnie Deremo of General Acrylics Inc. in Phoenix says the power washer also should be used on the sidewalks around the court. “It makes a difference,” he notes, adding that players appreciate the clean surfaces.

Tennis court lights lose their brightness over time. Bruce Frasure of LSI Courtsider Lighting in Cincinnati recommends relamping. It increases the “wow” factor of the court by improving the light levels by as much as 30 to 40 percent.

court maintenance

Nets and posts

Take a look at the court net, advises Brad Fandel of Douglas Industries in Eldridge, Iowa. Consider not only how it looks, but also how it plays.

“Make sure the tennis net, center strap and various components are structurally sound,” he says. “Overall, if both appearance and condition are acceptable, perhaps just some minor cleaning and touching up can help make the entire court look refreshed.

“Clean the headband of the net with a mild detergent and warm water. Be careful of using cleaners containing bleach as they may discolor some headbands and can harm the court surface if spilled. If the headband is still too dirty or stained, consider purchasing a replacement headband that can be attached over top of your existing net using the replacement’s lacing eyelets and lacing cord. It may save you some money and buy you some time before replacing the net, but often it is much less hassle and more cost-effective to go ahead and buy a new net.”

court maintenance

Fandel has other suggestions, including installation of new center straps to dress up old nets. (However, he cautions, a new white center strap might make an old net look more worn). New dowels, steel cables and lacing cord are also available from manufacturers.

Check your net posts as well, and look for signs of wear, says Brogan. “Before re-installing the nets, wire-brush or sand any rust spots on the net posts. Prime the rust spots with a stop-rust product such as Rustoleum, then apply a finish coat of outdoor Rustoleum.”

Richard Zaino of Zaino Tennis Courts in Orange, Calif., says that often, court owners fail to remove removable net posts from sleeves, leading to a buildup of dirt, rust and other contaminants between the post and sleeve. Posts should be removed from sleeves at least annually, and both the posts and sleeves cleaned, then primed with an anti-rust product. “This,” Zaino says, “will help to save the existing net post, get the most from the original installation and save the owner from having to replace with new net posts, core drilling and/or saw cutting the slab for these new posts.”

Windscreens

“The product that contributes the most to your court’s aesthetics is a 9-foot-high windscreen placed around all sides of the court,” says Robert Hellerson of the J.A. Cissel Manufacturing Co. in Lakewood, N.J.

True, as long as the windscreen looks good. Fandel recommends hosing down windscreens to clean them, as well as “inspecting your entire windscreen to make sure there are no rips or loose attachments to the fence. Pay attention to the hem and grommet areas. When the windscreen is attached to the fence, make sure every grommet is being used with whatever attachment device was recommended (i.e. tie-wraps, lacing cord, etc.). Ripped hems, loose grommets and windscreen that has come loose from the fence are not only unattractive, they can cause damage to the windscreen.”

Windscreen made of vinyl-coated polyester, says Fandel, can receive serious damage if left to flap in the wind, since “the vinyl coating and polyester layers separate and permanently damage the windscreen. This separation not only looks bad, but once it starts, it then migrates throughout the entire panel, creating a real eyesore.”

Adds Brogan: “If re-installing windscreens ‘in house,’ consult a qualified tennis court contractor to learn how to properly install the screens to minimize wrinkles and also to prevent damage to the fence. Properly installed windscreens can make a huge difference in the aesthetics of the facility.”

What else?

“Check the gates,” advises Zaino. “This is the first impression players have as they enter the court. See that gates open and close easily and replace any missing hardware.”

And you can increase your facility’s appeal with landscaped areas for player to congregate. Tables, benches, cabanas and shade ramadas all invite player interaction, as does a weather-protected posting area for player information.

Don’t forget other conveniences, too, such as scorekeepers, water coolers, trash cans and court valets to hold players’ keys, towels and water bottles, says Hellerson. “These accessories typically come in colors to coordinate with your court equipment and landscaping and can go a long way in making your courts look more user-friendly.”

So grab that checklist and put in a few days of sweat equity. Then bring on the tennis campers, the tournament players and the potential members. Your courts will be ready.

The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators and users understand quality sports facility construction. The ASBA sponsors informative meetings and publishes newsletters, books and technical construction guidelines for athletic facilities including tennis courts. Available at no charge is a listing of all publications offered by the Association, as well as the ASBA’s Membership Directory. 866-501-ASBA (2722) or sportsbuilders.org.

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About the Author

Mary Helen Sprecher  is the managing editor of Sports Destinations Management Magazine, a niche business-to-business publication for planners of sports travel events, in addition to being an RSI Contributing Editor. She is the technical writer for the American Sports Builders Association and works as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore City.

 

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