The Hard Way
Six outdoor projects claim hard-court construction honors.
One of the interesting things about the outdoor hard-court projects that won Racquet Sports Industry/American Sports Builders Association 2008 Distinguished Facility-of-the-Year Awards is that three of the six also installed a few soft courts. (Of the seven winning soft-court entries, which RSI ran in the May issue, two public facilities had both clay and hard courts.) For whatever the reasons, players appear to be looking for a little variety in their tennis surfaces, and facilities are responding.
Five of the six winners here also installed lights, while the sixth, Homewood Middle School in Homewood, Ala., put in electrical conduit so lights can be installed at a future date on the five new courts. Could it be that an increase in tennis participation and “play occasions” are making it necessary for facilities to extend their hours to accommodate all who want to play?
Homewood, Ala., also is home to another winning complex, the six outdoor courts at Samford University. The site chosen for the tennis complex, which also included indoor courts, was formerly a football practice field, cut into the side of a hill, so timing of construction was critical to allow access as both parts of the project were built. Light spillage was a concern for nearby residents, and to help overcome their reservations, a light pole with fixtures was installed for the neighborhood to view at night prior to breaking ground for construction.
Site work also came into play with the Southeast Park & Tennis Complex in Columbia, S.C., which required bringing in fill material from another location on the site to provide a stable sub-grade. The area is heavily wooded and care was required to locate the tennis courts while preserving as many trees as possible (the area has been designated as a nature preserve), with concrete walkways meandering through the wooded areas to the courts. Southeast won a USTA Outstanding Tennis Facility award in 2007.
The Fertita Tennis Complex at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas had an interesting construction challenge: the often 100-degree-plus temperatures encountered during construction. Due to the heat, finishing and curing the post-tension concrete for the 12 courts meant pouring concrete at night and using ice water to cool it down.
In Greeneville, Tenn., the new county tennis center solved a major problem for players, who otherwise were driving 30 miles or more to play. Now, the county has active tennis programs and often full courts. The tennis center is an old driver’s license center that was relocated on the site. The project was funded in part by a USTA Tennis in the Parks grant, as well as through the efforts of the city, county, community tennis association and private grants and donations.
The Palmilla Tennis Club at the five-star Villa de Oro resort in Mexico now has a tennis center designed to accommodate major international tournaments, with permanent covered spectator seating for 220 on a stadium court. Designers needed to contend with a site that was quite irregular in shape and contour. In addition to the cushioned hard courts and subsurface-irrigated clay courts, there’s an area for laying out grass courts, too.
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.