Bringing Courts to 10 And Under Tennis
With the promotion of 10 and Under Tennis under way in the U.S., temporary 36- and 60-foot courts have been springing up in surprising places: on the South Lawn of the White House, on top of Cincinnati’s tallest building, in parking lots, malls and fields across the country. Who’s making these courts?
Since 2008, Sport Court International has been the official modular court surface of the USTA, and since last year, the company has been the USTA’s official modular surface of 10 and Under Tennis.
“The USTA chose Sport Court to provide a safe surface for kids to play on,” says Lee Sponaugle, the company’s director of corporate accounts. “We produce and carefully engineer a patented modular court surface that reduces stress and shock on young knees and joints. That’s why our PowerGame surface is tagged as ‘the safest court in the world.’”
Sponaugle says his company partnered with The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) to determine the affect of different playing surfaces on the body and found that there was significantly less shock on the body when landing from jumps on a Sport Court PowerGame surface compared to a concrete-like surface, yet it was just as stable as a harder surface. “PowerGame was found to significantly reduce the amount of shock to the body of young adults,” says Steve Swanson, the director of the TOSH Biomechanics Lab in Salt Lake City.
PowerGame can be installed permanently over existing surfaces or it can be used as a sanctioned portable tennis system. Currently, says Sponaugle, there are 16 36-foot PowerGame courts being used by the USTA around the country. USTA sections and Community Tennis Associations can use the courts to teach and promote 10 and Under Tennis at special events, he adds. Sport Court’s PowerGame surface also is installed as 10 and Under Tennis courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the home of the US Open.
Sponaugle, a former NCAA tennis tournament qualifier, says one of the reasons the USTA chose Sport Court was because of the company’s history of safe sports surfaces, and Sport Court’s national network of expert court builders who can help set up the courts.
“Our No. 1 goal is kids’ tennis,” says Virgil Christian, director of community tennis development for the USTA. “We need facilities for kids to play on. These promotional courts are great for kids to learn the game of 10 and Under Tennis.”
Patrick McEnroe, the USTA’s general manager of Player Development, adds, “I love this surface, running around on it with the kids. It has great footing and the great thing is, the kids love it.”
Sponaugle says that as the 10 and Under Tennis initiative continues to gain momentum across the U.S., the USTA has plans to use more modular courts for kids. “Sport Courts will work closely with the USTA’s ‘SmashZone’ tour planned for this summer,” he adds. The SmashZone tour will visit 40 to 50 locations around the country, including tennis tournaments, festivals and other events, traveling with two 60-foot and two 36-foot Sport Courts to promote 10 and Under Tennis.
SportCourt also is offering the “CenterCourt” package that includes three PowerGame tennis courts (one 60-foot and two 36-foot) that are tournament-ready for 10-and-under sanctioned play. The portable modular surfaces can be put on any hard, flat playing area, and the tiles come with a 15-year limited warranty. Sponaugle says the life cycle cost of a Sport Court surface is significantly less than other surfaces.
To demo the Sport Court PowerGame surface, visit sportcourt.com or call 800-421-8112 to find a nearby location, or contact your local USTA representative to find out where and when the next 10 and Under Tennis promotional event will be held. Grants from the USTA are available to help facilities with 10 and Under Tennis.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.