From The Ground Up

If a court’s old asphalt needs re-grading, the irrigation needs updating, and the surrounding fence needs attention, the only option may be a total tear-out. After having the asphalt, base and soil underneath the court analyzed by a geotechnical engineer, you and your contractor will be able to work out a plan for re-construction. Vern Houghting of The Court Devil Inc. uses a laser-guided grader to level the four- to six-inch stone base, a process that reduces labor costs because only one person is needed to operate the equipment. Prior to the laser system, a team hand-surveyed the court and leveled the base, using a manually computed grid system. Once the base is leveled, the asphalt is applied. Houghting recommends laying a two-inch-thick asphalt pad prior to final surfacing. With the rising costs of oil, it may be tempting to skimp on the asphalt; however, there is a risk of unstable courts that will not last without proper underlay. For the final surfacing, there are many choices. Houghting prefers a Har-Tru surface, a product that has been around since the 1950s. The crushed stone surface offers many benefits, including a no-glare surface that dries quickly and, with proper maintenance, will not crack. Additionally, the surface allows players to slide, thus reducing injuries. A Har-Tru surface can be applied over asphalt as well as on concrete courts.

Now that the courts are in top shape, don’t forget to upgrade the surrounding fence. To solve sagging, contractors recommend a three-rail system–top, middle, and bottom–which not only stops sagging, but increases durability. For additional strength, an 8-gauge, vinyl-coated material is recommended. The fencing surrounding the tennis court area should look good and last for years.

Doing Your Homework

There are options to consider for tennis court projects–from court colors and surfaces to contractors. Finding a reputable contractor and the right surface for a court does not have to be a challenge. The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) is a good source of information that offers buyer guidelines, a list of Certified Tennis Court Builders contractors, and professional design listings. Formed in 1965, the ASBA sets the industry standard for tennis courts, running tracks and indoor and outdoor synthetic sports surfaces. A goal of the ASBA is to offer consumers information to help them through the process of constructing or repairing sport surfaces. The ASBA also provides information on court maintenance, site selection, design professionals, questions to ask contractors when receiving bids and the certification process. Access its Web site at

Pam Kutsick is a freelance writer and contributor to Parks & Rec Business magazine. She can be reached via e-mail at

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