Court Construction & Maintenance Guide: Positive Recognition
ITF Recognition provides an independent assessment of the quality of a court for builders, suppliers, and court owners.
By Dr. Stuart Miller, ITF Senior Executive Director
With an estimated $30 billion invested in tennis court construction worldwide, according to the International Tennis Federation, it is understandable that investors and players are keen to know the quality of construction and, increasingly, how fast — or slow — a court plays. In response to this need, the ITF Technical Centre has established “ITF Recognition” to provide end-users with an independent assessment of the quality of their court, and which also offers contractors an opportunity to demonstrate the calibre of their products and installation skills.
ITF Recognition arose from the ITF Court Pace Classification Program, which is a lab-based program for establishing and categorizing tennis court surfaces according to their speed. ITF Recognition is an on-site test-based program that aims to improve the standards of tennis courts, establish minimum specifications for high-quality courts, and establish a common language for suppliers, builders and court owners.
From an industry point of view, court recognition by the ITF not only will differentiate good and bad courts, but it also will help to stimulate improvements in quality construction and marginalize poor workmanship. It can also help identify venues for high-quality competition.
For builders, the benefits of ITF Recognition include evidence of a quality product and differentiation from competitors, in addition to being able to be used for marketing and promotional purposes.
Court and facility owners will see ITF court recognition as confirmation of the return on their investment, along with an independent quality assessment of their court or facility. Also, ITF Recognition will help them to identify quality court builders, and may help to provide evidence of the need to resurface.
One- and Two-Star Recognition
To receive One-Star Recognition, key installation properties of a court must meet the ITF recommendations. Testing begins with a visual inspection to identify any cracks or gaps in the surface and a uniform appearance. Next, an evenness test measures the size of any bumps or dips in the court using a straightedge, and the slope and planarity of the court are established with surveying equipment. Finally, the position of the court markings and net are checked to ensure they are within tolerance.
Two-Star Recognition requires the court pace rating (CPR) to be compared against the ITF-classified value for the surface product, in addition to the One-Star tests. The pace is quantified by firing a ball at the court and recording its speed before and after the bounce. Rougher surfaces, which generate more friction between the ball and the court, reduce the speed of the ball parallel to the ground, making a court “slower.” Surfaces that have a higher bounce also appear slower because players have more time to reach the ball.
There currently are more than 300 surface products classified by the ITF. Surfaces are classified into one of five categories: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast and fast, and listed on the ITF website, itftennis.com.
Who Can Apply?
ITF Recognition is targeted at venues where the standard of play is highest and the quality of the court therefore most important, such as international, national and intercollegiate venues, and national/regional tennis centers. However, ITF Recognition is not limited to elite-level facilities. In order to establish the appropriate recommended limits for high-quality courts, the ITF tested dozens of courts ranging from public park facilities to Davis Cup venues.
An application for ITF Recognition can be submitted to the ITF by any party associated with the facility, for example the owner, the organizer of a tournament held at that facility, or the supplier or builder of the court(s). One-Star tests must be carried out by an ITF-approved test organization, such as a surveying company, or an ITF-accredited laboratory. Two-Star tests must be conducted by an ITF-accredited laboratory.
The ITF charges a $500 administration fee to add a facility (any number of courts at the same location) that meets the relevant specifications to the official ITF Recognition list. The cost of testing is determined by the laboratory and is available on application.
Earning ‘Elite’ Status
Builders and suppliers who repeatedly provide quality tennis courts that receive ITF One- and Two-Star Recognition also are able to earn ITF Recognized Installer/Supplier “Elite” Silver or Gold status.
Elite Silver and Gold status are both valid for five years from date of issue. To be an ITF Recognized Installer or Supplier at the Elite Silver level, you must have 10 ITF One- or Two-Star Recognition certificates. To reach Elite Gold status, you need 50 Recognition certificates.
Builders and suppliers who achieve Elite Silver and Gold status will receive a certificate and be listed on the ITF Technical website. They’ll also be able to promote their businesses with a silver or gold ITF Recognized Installer or Supplier logo. In the U.S., an ITF Elite-level Installer must also hold a current ASBA Certified Tennis Court Builder certificate.
For more information on how to apply, visit www.itftennis.com or email email@example.com.
First U.S. Courts to Gain ITF Recognition
Two courts at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida and one at Fisher Island Racquet Club in Florida are the first tennis courts in the U.S. to receive ITF Recognition, each gaining Two-Star status.The court surfaces were supplied by California Sports Surfaces. The PBAU courts were installed by ProCourts and Big D Paving Co. in conjunction with Global Sports & Tennis Design Group; the Fisher Island court was installed by Agile Tennis Courts.
How Do You Get ITF Recognition?
Submit an application for One- or Two-Star Recognition* to the ITF (subject to meeting the relevant specifications) and pay the administration fee. (Visit www.itftennis.com.)
Select an ITF-accredited lab/ITF-approved surveyor and arrange a test date and payment of the test fee.
Have the court(s) tested and the report(s) sent to the ITF.
If the court(s) meet all specifications, you’ll receive an ITF Recognition certificate from the ITF and website listing for the court(s).
Note: Two-Star Recognition cannot be awarded without comparison against an ITF-classified surface product. If the surface product is not classified, the product supplier can apply for classification using the results of the court pace rating test on-site.
Dr. Stuart Miller is an ITF senior executive director responsible for the Technical, Science, Tennis Development, Anti-Doping and Anti-Corruption departments.
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