Tennis Industry magazine

 

Facility Construction: Copy That!

The new USTA National Campus in Lake Nona is groundbreaking in many ways. Here are some features you should consider for your own facility.

By David LaSota

As a facility designer who has worked with the USTA for many years, I was involved in helping to develop the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla., which opened earlier this year. The 100-court facility is amazing to experience with the excitement and energy that exists, as the sport is celebrated daily by players of all ages and abilities.

While the National Campus is vast, we developed various smaller “neighborhoods” of tennis. For instance, the Team USA area has 20 cushioned acrylic courts; the Har-Tru (green clay) area has 32 courts; there’s a six-court European red-clay area; the collegiate area has 12 Plexicushion courts; and the family zone has stand-alone 36-foot and 60-foot courts.

But besides the actual courts, there are certain design components found throughout the National Campus that many tennis facilities around the country can incorporate to improve the experience for their own players, spectators and visitors.

1/ Viewscape

When tennis players aren’t competing, they enjoy watching the game. At the USTA National Campus, we planned a Tournament Administration building in the center of a sea of 68 courts of all sizes. The second floor of the building has a viewing deck that looks out over all of the courts, providing a sense of tennis immersion.

Facilities can review their site to determine if there are areas that can be improved to take advantage of views looking over the courts. These social spaces provide memorable experiences that remain with visitors long after they leave the facility.

2/ 36/60-Foot Tennis

The Nemours Family Zone at the National Campus consists of eight 36-foot and eight 60-foot tennis courts, providing a tailored tennis experience for those who may find 78-foot tennis a little intimidating, are just learning the sport or want to have fun playing tennis on a smaller scale.

Interest in short-court tennis increases when there are standalone 36- and 60-foot courts, in an area separate from 78-foot courts. I recommend finding underutilized courts or space and converting it to short-court use.

3/ Shade

Shade is increasingly important when planning tennis facilities, particularly in the South. For the safety of players and spectators, facilities need to provide refuge from the sun’s rays. As a bonus, these areas also offer cover from the rain. They tend to become places to socialize and rest after playing.

Try to incorporate shaded areas, with seating, between and near the courts. The more comfortable you make your players, the more they’ll want to be playing on your courts.

4/ Live Streaming

At the National Campus, tennis matches can be shared live online around the world. Cameras fixed to the courts and streaming services, such as PlaySight, are available for relatively low cost. If your facility hosts frequent tournaments, consider live-streaming matches so players’ families and friends can get in on the action.

The National Campus is working to coordinate live scoring with its live streaming, too, which will give a real-match feel to the live-stream broadcast.

5/ Water Stations and Electric Recharge Stations

Water fountains and bottle-filling stations have been installed throughout the National Campus so players can hydrate easily and frequently. Many players bring their own water bottles to the court, so the filling stations keep them topped off while reducing the waste of disposable plastic bottles.

The National Campus also has cell-phone charging stations, another amenity that helps make players and visitors comfortable.

 

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