A Living Legend

My feelings about this are very simple. When a man wants to steal your patent, all he has to do is make one little change and he has duplicated your idea almost 100 percent. I don’t want to hold someone back if he can improve something. Why fight it? I have ulcers for other things. All the equipment I have invented was meant for my team and to help the industry.

What effect does weather have on the maintenance of a clay court?

Everything, yes, sir! Courts have to be maintained constantly–they are like babies and women. They are all made of the same material, yet they are all different. One court may need more attention than another, but they all have to have daily maintenance or they will go to hell in a handbasket. I cannot say this enough–tennis courts will not maintain themselves. Weather can help courts or destroy them. What one court receives in sun, wind and rain may be very different than the one next to it.

Just the other day I resurfaced a number of Har-Tru courts, and just as I had finished, it rained and rained hard. Don’t you know it, the next morning they were ready for play. This is a good example of what effect weather can have–what would have normally taken several days to do, Mother Nature did overnight.

What are some basic maintenance protocols for taking care of a clay tennis court?

· Har-Tru courts must be brushed every morning and afternoon as well as watered in the afternoon and at night. People don’t realize that you need to keep the base wet, so it will hold moisture throughout the morning and early afternoon. That’s why we flood them, not because we want to waste water, but to keep the surface playable.

· Clay courts need to be scarified, making them pliable enough to where they can breathe (allowing water to move through the courts).

· You must dress base lines and service lines.

· Keep the algae under control all around the courts and under the nets.. If you don’t, it will eventually cover you.

· Roll lines as often as possible–twice a month is good, once a week is wonderful. This will keep base lines and service lines from getting too high, too fast. We’re not concerned with making the courts harder, unless it’s a Har-Tru court. Maintaining lines is a practice that is too often forgotten, and can be a source for many headaches.

Are there any indicators as to when a court should be resurfaced?

· The amount of play a court gets is a leading indicator. If a court is used seven days a week, day and night, that is a hard-played court, and should be resurfaced every two to three years. If you wait four years to resurface a court such as that, you will have players competing on bad–and possibly dangerous–lines. A court not played around-the-clock tends to get resurfaced on average every four to five years.

· Another indicator is when cords (nylon webbing on the inside of the line tape) poke through the lines, and the lines themselves are rough around the edges.

· Another sign a court needs to be resurfaced is when big bird baths form behind the line tapes where players serve and receive the ball.

· Look at the high side of a court along the brick line–it will tell you how much material has worn away. Sometimes this material can be pulled from the lower side of the court to fill in other areas.

Every time you resurface a court and/or pull the lines, be sure to laser the court. It goes without saying: you pull the lines, you put it back into grade. You will always maintain a better drained court and a court that will play better, if you laser it back into grade.

Players are saying that the lines need to be rolled. What is this, and how often should it be done?

Rolling the lines is when you take a Brutus roller–or a steel roller that you pull behind a golf cart or a roller that you have on a Serve Ace golf cart–and use the force and weight of the roller to mat the lines down. Don’t forget to always roll with the lines, not against them. Lines should be rolled once a week. It’s a regular maintenance procedure you have to find time to do; otherwise, it won’t get done.

A court has a white residue on the surface. What is this, and how can it be addressed?

White residue on a clay court more often than not is a buildup of calcium. It is dead material that a court gathers, which can be scraped away. The lute or the carbide tines I have created for a rototiller are good tools to address this problem.

What are some key indicators as to when more clay should be added to a court?

Your line tapes will tell you when it is time to add more clay, as they will start showing a little height to them. Another indicator is around the base and service lines, as you’re always going to need material in these areas. A close inspection at these spots twice a month should keep players happy and safe.

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