The Soft Market
These seven outdoor winners are excellent examples of clay-court construction.
Once again, Florida dominates in the outdoor soft-court category of the Racquet Sports Industry/American Sports Builders Association 2008 Distinguished Facility-of-the-Year Awards. The Sunshine State is home to five of the seven winners.
Each winning facility makes use of seating and shade to make the tennis experience comfortable for players. Six of the seven winners use subsurface irrigation, thereby reducing or eliminating court down time and conserving water. The seventh winner, the Pilara Tenis Club in Argentina, prefers to hand-water the beautiful red clay courts, rather than use a traditional sprinkler system.
Pilara was designed to be a first-class club and training facility and, in addition to the 10 clay courts, also has four hard courts (including two indoors). At Pilara, engineers had to solve various drainage problems, build a sewage treatment plant just for the club and, in an inventive solution, put the reinforced concrete tank for irrigation and drinking water between the practice walls, making it invisible to members and allowing for much larger backboards.
The four subsurface-irrigated, lighted courts at Turnberry Isle in Florida were built on a tight schedule. The owner was renovating the resort and needed the courts completed in six weeks, so the property could open before Christmas.
The Yarbrough Tennis Center at Auburn University/City of Auburn is new construction, with a total of 34 courts (16 outdoor clay, 12 outdoor hard and six indoor hard). The clay courts are in three-court batteries, with one stadium court. Construction was hampered by wet, muddy and freezing conditions.
Brian Piccolo Park’s 12 courts technically were an upgrade to an existing facility, but extensive work and demolition was needed for the site. The conventional clay courts were converted to subsurface irrigation, the slope was corrected so the courts drain better, walkways were widened and the overall facility was made safer and more playable.
Drainage was a problem with the eight-court Islandwalk facility, a new tennis facility in an upscale housing development. Yard drains had been installed too close to the lightpole footings, so they had to be shifted. The courts are laid out in two-court batteries, with shade between.
Two-court batteries with shade between also are used at two municipal facilities — the 10-court Palm Coast center and the six-court Paseo-Fort Myers facility. At Palm Coast, eight acres of pines had to be cleared, then three retention ponds had to be installed to handle storm-water runoff. Fencing also had to able to withstand hurricane-force winds.
While designing and building in hurricane-prone areas of Florida may prove challenging, the state’s excellent tennis facilities will simply blow you away.
For details on the 2009 Distinguished Facility-of-the-Year Awards, contact the ASBA at 866-501-ASBA or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.