From The Ground Up

Tennis has been around since ancient times, but your tennis courts don’t have to look like they it. If courts suffer from sagging fences, cracked surfaces and torn nets, it is time for a makeover.

Before the maintenance department gears up for one more round of cleaning, filling, fixing and resurfacing the courts in the spring, create a list of priorities that will help turn a crumbling facility into a smooth project. Are you trying to buy some time before completely refurbishing courts, or is the time now? Is only color-coating an option? What about those cracks? How long will the repair work take? And, equally important, how much will it cost?

Decisions, Decisions

Knowing how much attention a tennis court requires will be important in preparing the budget. Before getting the first bid for a project, look at where courts are located, who uses them, and how weather affects the playing surface. Durability and turnaround time on repair may be factors in the decision. Are courts located in a shady area or does the sun beat down, causing glare and unbearable surface temperatures? Examine surfaces that stay cool and reduce glare. If weather brings lots of rain, a surface that dries quickly is important. How much time does staff have to devote to court maintenance? If they are already stretched to the limit, a low-maintenance surface is vital.

Digging For Answers

Regular maintenance of tennis courts is a necessary evil. This means routinely filling in cracks and applying an acrylic coating overlay, re-stripping and making necessary net repairs. But if your court seems to have more cracks and dips each year, it is time to have the area under the court analyzed. Mark Montemayor, president of Environmental Sport Surfaces, recommends a geotechnical engineer do the analysis. Oftentimes, cracking is “a symptom of problems underneath.” Generally, it costs less than $1,000 to analyze the dirt and asphalt under the court, which will reveal if you need to replace the base or the asphalt, re-grade or patch and re-surface.

If patching is an option, there are different products available from elastic crack filler to an actual patch offered by Armor Crack Repair System. The latter is a membrane-like patch that is placed over the crack and overlaps onto the surrounding area. It forms a bond that allows for the cracked area to breathe, or move with temperature changes, which is important for avoiding additional or new cracks. As with any other crack repair, the surface then can be coated with your choice of acrylic overlay colors. When professionally applied, the Armor Crack Repair blends into the court, leaving a level playing field. This system can be used in most parts of the country and lasts for 10 years. Before repairs can begin, however, the surface should be clean and stable. Pressure-washing and removal of any loose surface material are recommended.

Resurfacing–Making Old New

When a patch-type surface repair is not an option due to extensive cracking and divots, Premier Court offers an alternative option–a complete tear-out and rebuild. The company’s surface is a polyurethane covering made of the same material used for the insoles in tennis shoes. As a free-floating system, it is put over the current surface, then color-coated with acrylic overlay. The whole process takes seven to 10 days, can be used on both indoor and outdoor courts, and is applicable to courts anywhere in the country. Jeff Henderson of Tennis Technology explains the four-step process:

· The court is leveled with a leveling compound, and cracks are filled

· The Premier Court material is rolled onto the court surface

· A color-coated acrylic overlay is applied

· The court is stripped and nets are replaced

Although the cost to have a Premier Court surface applied is about $35,000 for two courts, the product comes with a 25-year warranty, which requires the court be color-coated every five years at a cost of around $3,000. The product needs to be applied when the court surface temperature is 140 F, so most courts will have to be done in the summer months. Henderson explained the 140 F temperature is achieved on a day that is 80 F and sunny or warmer. “If there’s a cloud in the sky, we can’t do it.”

Starting From Scratch

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