Dress Up Tennis Courts

Learn what it takes to attract crowds of players

By Mary Helen Sprecher

Almost any park can have playable tennis courts, ones that are well-maintained and can provide a good game, but parks that want a tennis complex that actually draws people in are going to have to put in some extra effort. If you want a “new and improved” tennis season, let’s get started.

From The Outside Looking In

Look around for a minute. As long as courts are clean and well-maintained, you shouldn’t see, well, anything. There should be nothing that catches your eye–debris on the surface, stains, cracks, digs, or dings. A player should be able to concentrate on his or her game without any distraction. Note: Nets also should be clean, crisp-looking, and even, without drooping in the middle, without holes in the fabric, or torn or dirty headbands.

Photos Courtesy Mary Helen Sprecher

Next, take a look at the periphery of the courts. If they are lit, make sure all the lights are working, and working evenly.Readingsshould be taken with a light meter from various areas around each court. Inspect the fence too, ensuring there are no bulges, sagging rails, rusted spots, or areas where the fence fabric has sharp edges or burrs.

Make sure the windscreen is straight, and is fastened tightly to the fence to prevent it from flapping and becoming damaged.

Some of these problems are easy fixes, but others, like identifying the cause of a crack and providing a recommendation for the correct type of repair, are best left to a tennis-court contractor.

The person who originally installed the courts is a good contact; if that person is unavailable, check with colleagues for the name of a reputable sports-specialty contractor. A tennis court is actually a highly specialized installation, and a general contractor may not have the expertise necessary to do it correctly.

Photos Courtesy Mary Helen Sprecher

One word of caution: Use tennis courts only for their intended purpose. Don’t allow inline skating, basketball, skateboarding, or any other use; doing so will lead to a decline in player population and damage to the courts. 

Courts For Young Players

One of the growth areas for tennis is children’s play. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has championed 10 and Under Tennis (10U) using the QuickStart Tennis (QST) format, which advocates shorter courts, lower nets, and softer balls to allow children to play the game sooner and master the strokes earlier. Kids love it because they can actually play short games against their friends, rather than simply practicing hitting drills.

The format allows the lines for 10U play to be painted on regular courts. While some facilities have designated shorter-sized courts for children, many facilities find it just as easy, and much more economical, to have lines painted on existing courts. 

“It actually doesn’t cost much to line a court for 10U play,” says Mark Brogan of Pro-Sport Construction Inc., inDevon,Penn.“On average, I think people are charging less than $500. You have to figure a club is going to make that up in the first set of group lessons they book.”

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