Inside the Lines
Adding ‘blended’ lines for 10 and Under Tennis is simple and cost-effective.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know about 10 and Under Tennis and all the benefits it can offer. What you may not know is how to bring it to your courts. One of the best ways is to pick up the phone and call your local court builder. Tell him or her you want courts lined for 10 and Under Tennis. It’s that simple.
Maybe, though, you have a few questions. Is it going to be a big expense? Will 78-foot courts lined for 36- or 60-foot tennis look confusing to players? Will members complain? Will it spoil the aesthetics? No, no, no and no, say builders.
"It actually doesn’t cost much to line a court for 10 and under play," says Mark Brogan of Pro-Sport Construction Inc., Devon, Pa. "On average, I think, people are charging less than $500. You have to figure a club is going to make that up in the first set of group lessons they book."
But even better, the national USTA will match dollar for dollar the investment a facility makes toward the total cost of painting “blended” lines or converting tennis courts for 10 and Under Tennis, to a maximum of $4,000. In many instances, between the national USTA and the USTA section, a facility or organization adding blended lines to 78-foot courts can have up to 75 percent of the total cost covered. (Visit usta.com/facilities for more information on line and conversion grants.)
Brogan, who serves on the board of the American Sports Builders Association as the group’s tennis division president, says he has yet to hear complaints from any customer who has had the new lines put on. In part, this is because lines for 10U play are generally a different color from the existing lines and are unobtrusive and within the same color family of the 78-foot court surface, for instance, light blue 10U lines on a dark blue court surface. (If adding 10U lines to a 78-foot court, the lines should never be white, or any color, such as gray, that might be mistaken for white.)
"We have striped a lot of shared lines on various colored courts," says Lee Murray of Competition Athletic Surfaces in Chattanooga, Tenn. "Using a color several shades darker than the playing area is the best solution. Adult players aren’t as distracted when the 10 and under lines are darker than the playing area and further from the color of the white lines."
When 36- and 60-foot lines are superimposed on an existing regulation court, some of the boundaries will be the same. Some of the important points about shared lines:
- Since a 78-foot court is 36 feet wide, the 78-foot court doubles sidelines can be used as the baseline for a 36-foot court.
- Since a 78-foot singles court is 27 feet wide, the 78-foot singles lines can be used as the doubles sidelines for a 60-foot court.
To further differentiate 10 and Under playing lines from the lines of the 78-foot court, 10U playing lines are terminated 3 inches from the white 78-foot playing lines where the 10 and Under playing lines intersect the 78-foot lines.
Different from the Ground Up
One of the advantages of teaching 10 and Under Tennis is the ability to create courts anywhere, including gymnasiums, parking lots and rec centers. Resourceful Tennis Service Representatives (TSRs), gym teachers and rec directors have used materials such as painter’s tape to mark indoor court lines, and washable spray paint to make temporary courts outside.
The Tennis Courts book notes that in fact, with portable nets and lines available, children are playing “driveway tennis,” and that neighborhood competitions and mini-tournaments are springing up around the country.
The latest venue to add short courts has been the fast-dry facility. Pat Hanssen of Har-Tru Sports in Charlottesville, Va., notes temporary lines for soft courts are now on the market, and that instructions and information are available on YouTube. "The lines can be put down and taken up by one person in five to seven minutes," he adds. "They are easy to see and safe to use."
Playing It Safe
Guidelines also cover the space outside the courts. For a 36-foot court, the USTA recommends an overrun area of 10 feet from the baseline and 8 feet from the sideline to a fixed object (or to the sideline of an adjacent 36-foot court) be provided, making the overall playing area 56 feet long by 34 feet wide. For a 60-foot court, the recommended overrun distance is 14 feet from the baseline and 10 feet from the sideline to a fixed object (or to the sideline of an adjacent 60 foot tennis court), making the overall size of the playing area 88 by 47 feet.
Overall, say builders, adding lines is a simple matter. It can be done as a standalone operation, or it can be done when courts are resurfaced.
"It’s easy and it brings more income to the facility," says Brogan. "There’s really no down side."
See all articles by Mary Helen Sprecher
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.