Tennis Industry magazine


Court Construction: Winter Break

Use these tips and strategies to make sure your tennis courts survive the cold weather months.

By Mary Helen Sprecher

It’s that time of year again, when in many areas of the country, temperatures begin to drop, driving players indoors. This means it’s time to winterize your outdoor courts.

In general, winterizing hard courts is simple — take down the nets and windscreens, give the courts a good power-washing to remove a seasons’ worth of debris, and make any necessary repairs prior to locking the gates. But when you have soft courts — either clay or fast-dry — there’s more involved.

If you’re planning on closing your courts for the winter, here’s a to-do list, with tips for all types of courts — and some tips specific to soft courts, which require the most attention.

Windscreens: Hose down your windscreens and let them dry. When removing for storage, label each section with the court and fence area it goes with. (You’ll thank yourself in the spring.) Before storing, check windscreens for damage — either on the windscreen itself or where it fastens to the fence. Make any necessary repairs, or order new panels. Store in a clean, dry area.

Fence: As you’re taking down windscreens, look at the fence and make a note of any places where the fence fabric is bulging or sagging, or where rails may be out of alignment. Making repairs before bad weather sets in can pay dividends. Make sure any gate hinges and other apparatus also work.

Netting: Check nets prior to removing them. If there are holes, repair them. If the damage is widespread, order new nets. As with windscreens, label nets if they go with specific courts, then store them safely.

Irrigation: If you’re new to winterizing soft courts, call in your court contractor to help deal with the irrigation system. A professional who understands weather patterns in the area can help prepare your equipment for the off-season.

For those who have done this before, there are certain items on the to-do list that should not be overlooked. First, shut off the water to the irrigation system and make sure pipes and hoses are drained of all water. Blowing the water out of the system before a freeze or thaw sets in will mean you won’t have to deal with cracked or broken pipes in the spring, when your players are itching to get back onto the courts.

Subsurface irrigated courts will need to have all vulnerable apparatus removed and taken inside as well, including valves and floats. Cap any areas where water from winter precipitation could enter the system. Many contractors also recommend removing the drain plugs, so any water that accumulates from rain or snow is able to drain away from the court.

Court Lines: For soft courts, you can either leave the court line tapes in place or remove them.

Some facility managers simply leave the court lines “as is” in order to use them as guidelines when installing new lines in the spring. If you leave court lines in place for the winter so they can be used in the spring, consider using boards and weights to hold down and protect the lines.

In general, the milder your winter, the better your line tapes will fare if they are outside for the season. Expect cold temperatures to cause some heaving in the court — line tapes will come up in places.

If you remove the line tapes for the winter, you can roll them up and store them, or you can discard them and purchase new ones for the spring.

To Cover or Not to Cover? Some facilities will cover their soft courts for the season once they are out of use, either by using all-weather tarps or by using a cover specially made for courts. This depends on the facility, your budget and how severe your winters may be.

Court Equipment: Store all court equipment, supplies and accessories in a dry, clean place. Gas should be drained from any power equipment, and water should be removed from any device that holds it. Store brushes and brooms inside by hanging them from a wall or ceiling.

Court Furniture: Benches, tables and umbrellas should all be cleaned, receive any necessary repairs or touch-ups and then stored away from the elements.

Signage: If the courts are closed for the winter, make sure to post signs to indicate this, so players don’t try to get on them after you’ve winterized them. Lock the gate and, if appropriate, direct players to indoor facilities.

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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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