Court Construction and Maintenance: Re-Ordering the Court
What can you do during your facility’s shutdown to have it ready for your next open house?
You’ve just looked at your calendar and realized you’re only a few weeks away from the club’s yearly shutdown. Once the facility is open for business again, it’ll be time for the annual open house when membership recruitment starts. And looking at your courts, you have only one thought: Yikes!.
In today’s economy, there might not be much of a budget for drastic improvements. That does not mean, however, that you can’t freshen up your courts and have them ready for a great show-and-tell performance.
Small Touches That Add Up
A facility that commands respect isn’t always the product of one sweeping change. Sometimes, say contractors, several relatively inexpensive changes can make courts look brighter and newer.
“Adding a new piece of windscreen — it can even have the club logo on it — is a sure way to get the members’ attention, plus it’s great publicity for the club,” says Steve Wright of Trans Texas Tennis Ltd. in Houston.
Since the fence may be the first thing a prospective member sees from the outside, take time to repair sagging rails or places where the windscreen droops. Touch up chipped paint on net posts as well.
Tennis nets will show wear — and can bring down the entire appearance of a court. If a net has holes, rips or tears, replace it. A new net, with its bright, white headband, will do wonders for the court’s appearance.
Take some time to adjust the tension on the net. A variety of net tensioning devices are on the market, and particularly when courts are in a bank, can keep them looking uniform and neat.
On the Surface
“There are a lot of quick, less expensive ‘spruce ups’ a facility owner or manager can do,” notes David Marsden of Boston Tennis Court Construction Co. Inc. in Hanover, Mass. “For a more dramatic improvement, a new color surfacing will add new life to a facility. A change of surface colors is something that is even more noticeable than maintaining the same color scheme.”
If a new surfacing job isn’t in the cards, make sure the court is clean. Power-washing (either done by the court contractor or in accordance with that contractor’s directions) can make a surface look surprisingly clean and bright.
Art Tucker of California Products Corp. in Andover, Mass., notes that if a facility manager is addressing only isolated stains on a court, there are a variety of brand-name products designed specifically for tennis court use. In all cases, the court contractor’s opinion should be sought in advance, since different stains may require different treatments. Check with a contractor before using any soap, cleaner or method, no matter how mild, since a discolored or bleached surface can be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy effectively.
“On soft courts, a pre-season reconditioning, top dressing and new line tapes will make a noticeable difference,” adds Marsden.
Part of the Furniture
Take the time to inspect courtside benches, tables and more. Make certain they sit firmly and do not rock (a small but annoying thing players will notice). If tables or benches have umbrellas to shade players before or after games, make sure the umbrellas are easy to raise and lower and are in good working order.
Often, equipment such as ball carts, hoppers and machines, as well as tennis drill equipment, winds up being pushed to the corners of the facility where pros and players can reach it as needed. Store it in a convenient (but hidden) area instead.
Amenities and Accessories
If your facility (either indoor or outdoor) has lights on the courts, make sure you replace any burned out lamps or lamps that have degraded to a point where the manufacturer recommends replacement. Tennis court lighting is supposed to adhere to specific standards, so take the time to do light meter readings in specified locations around the court.
In an indoor facility, backdrop and divider curtains should be kept off the floor and attached to support cables at every grommet. In addition, clean and well-lit walkways behind the backdrop curtains are a must. Replace overhead and walkway lights as needed.
If everyday court maintenance equipment (squeegees and rollers for hard courts, drag brooms and line sweepers for soft courts) is present, it should be hung neatly on the fence, not left leaning against it.
Small changes add up, and not just to prospective members. “Players like to know that their membership fees are being spent on maintaining and improving the facility they belong to,” says Marsden.
Note: The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators and users understand quality sports facility construction. The ASBA sponsors informative meetings and publishes newsletters, books and technical construction guidelines for athletic facilities including tennis courts. Available at no charge is a listing of all publications offered by the Association, as well as the ASBA’s Membership Directory. Info: 866-501-ASBA (2722) or sportsbuilders.org
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.