Tennis Industry magazine

 

Courts: Senior Status

A lot has been said about courts for children. But what about for players at the other end of the spectrum?

By Mary Helen Sprecher

The fact that the baby-boomer population is aging shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and neither should the fact that those people want to continue playing tennis. Tennis has long been promoted as a lifetime sport, so much so that USTA tournament play even includes age divisions up to 90!

According to statistics compiled by the Tennis Industry Association, the 50-plus age group generally numbers between 3 and 4 million players, and is consistently one of the largest in the “frequent player” population. With so many players obviously wanting to stay in the game, the question becomes: What can you do to make sure they keep coming back?

Comfortable Courts

Make sure the court surface is comfortable to play on, say the experts. Many builders promote soft granular surfaces like clay or fast-dry, saying seniors find them more comfortable to play on. The slower pace of such surfaces also lends itself to a strategy game, and allows players to enjoy being on the court longer.

Soft courts (which also include natural grass and synthetic turf) find favor among a wide range of players because they are easier on joints, backs, feet and legs. Surfaces that allow players to slide place less stress on joints when a player stops or turns. Grass, fast-dry and clay also stay cooler in the summer and have little glare. Synthetic turf does tend to hold heat.

Fast-dry and grass courts do require more daily maintenance than a hard court. Synthetic turf will also require periodic brushing and cleaning, so managers must weigh their ability to put in the time to keep courts looking and playing their best. If a hard court is being used, cushioned coatings can help make players comfortable. In addition, coatings can be formulated to grip the ball and slow it down.

Welcoming for Seniors

Outside of the court surface, though, there are plenty of other things to make tennis facilities more welcoming to senior players.

While it’s never too early to get the next generation started in this lifetime sport, it’s never too late to accommodate the older generation.

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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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