Hard Court Systems
Tennis Hard Court Base Construction
Tennis Hard courts are constructed from a rigid base such as asphalt or concrete.
It is critical that these bases be designed and laid to the correct ITF standards which include Size, Planarity and Evenness (please see the links below).
The size may vary according to the use, a home court does not need to be full competition size (30m by 15m is a minimum recommended size) however the evenness (e.g. +/- 3mm over 3m for concrete) is a critical factor in all courts.
The planarity, that is the court must be in a single plane and have approximately a 1% fall. The preferred fall is across court, along court and dual fall are also acceptable. Hard courts for other sports can be “ridge-backed” that is, fall from the centre to either end, however this would preclude tennis at a later date. Failure to achieve these standards will result in problems long in to the future.
Sadly in Australia there is no specific legislation that requires engineering to be conducted on a sports or tennis court. However this in no way allows for a “one size fits all” approach.
Every site is different and getting a geotechnical report and an engineered design is the cheapest insurance you’ll ever buy.
In Australia soils can move from just a few millimetres up to more than 100mm, if the court design does not cater for this, ultimately it will fail and no amount of patching will ever fix it. A properly engineered court should last 40 plus years.
Tennis Hard Court Surfacing Options
- Rubber matt cushioned systems.
These provide a very consistent playing surface (as they are made in factory) and do not go hard over time
- In-situ pour rubber cushioned systems.
These provide a degree of cushioning for players.
- Acrylic paint systems.
These are extremely durable, low maintenance and suit all levels of play.
They are by far the most common tennis hard court surface in use
Each surface has specific advantages and costs associated with them.
- How much will I use this court?
- Do I want a professional surface?
- Will I maintain that surface?
- What grade or skill level do the player have that will use the court?
Some questions to ask
- Is this surface ITF approved? (this demonstrates the manufacturers commitment to the products quality and suitability).
- Will the installer show you the warranty before you buy?
They aren’t all the same and you need to know what it covers.
- Has the installer and the manufacturer been in business significantly longer than the warranty period they offer.
- Can they prove warranties were honoured?
- Does the manufacturer train and approve the installers?
- Has the installer fully explained the “pros” and “cons” of each base and surfacing option?
- Is the product tested for Aussie conditions – our UV levels are nearly double that of Europe or the USA
- Where is the product made? Aussie jobs are important.
The Products We Use.
In August of 2013 the two strongest brands in the Australian market, Plexi and Rebound Ace combined to form California Sports Surfaces (CSS). As with many mergers the new group is so much stronger than its two former halves. Multisport Concepts is very proud to have been selected to install the entire suite of product from CSS range. Our clients will reap the rewards as we are now able to offer a complete manufacturer based solution to every problem and scenario.
Some things to know.
Fence to Fence or figure 8.
When you request a cushioned tennis hard court system, most of us would expect it to cover the entire court that is “fence to fence”.
Beware of quotes that appear cheap; it has been a practice in some place to install the cushioning in a figure of eight or dog bone pattern covering the baseline areas and narrowing at the net. This isn’t a major issue as long as you know what you’re paying for and compare “apples with apples”.
Coats vs Film build
The paints we use are made up of Resins, pigments, latexes that are dissolved or suspended in a solvent (water mostly). The solvents allow the solid particles to flow and spread evenly. At that point the solvent’s job is done and it evaporates off. Clearly if the amount of solvent in a product is high, then there will be only a small amount of solid particles remaining on the surface. The thickness of the coat of paint when immediately when applied is called “Wet Film Build”, the layer left after drying is called the “Dry Film Build”. The latter being the most important to the end user.
The percentage of these non-solvent components can be very low in some manufactures brands leading to a thin film build. Many of us have experienced this with cheap house paints that require many coats to get a reasonable result.
The easy fix is to “slop” more paint on – of course this simply results in runs on vertical surfaces and issues such as “skinning” and cracking on horizontal surfaces. The next fix is to apply more coats, which is how many brands are sold – 4 coats must be better than 3 … wrong. 4 thin “dry film builds” may not be up to the total thickness of 3 coats of a product with a substantially higher solids continent.
Hard courts crack for several reasons
- Ageing in asphalt
- Expansion and contraction in both concrete and asphalt
- Soil movement
Of these soil movement is by far the most common and severe.
Please be very aware that the Building Code of Australia DOES NOT HAVE ANY REQUIREMENTS FOR SPORTS CONSTRUCTION – so insist that your court builder does a fully engineered design.
A concrete slab can expand and contract by approx. 18mm, soil movements can easily be five or more times that. The very best cure is simply prevention; have a Geotechnical report commissioned (a minimal cost) and have the court engineered. All of the major sporting bodies and any reputable court builder will give this advice.
If you already have a court and the base is cracking, then we can patch and repair with the very best products on the market. However we can’t and no one else can give any guarantee as to how long the repair will last. To quote from the Plexipave web site “When the lineal footage of cracks exceeds 150′-200′ per court, and or the area of the crack interferes with the game, it is time to consider reconstruction, i.e. removal of the pavement or pulverization of the pavement, replacing the net post and adding new pavement, surface and colour.” (150’ to 200’ is approx. 46m to 61m)
Hard Court Care
- DO keep the surface free of dirt and leaves which can significantly shorten the court life
- DO remove bird droppings immediately
- DO use the correct equipment
- DO NOT use high pressure water blasters to clean the court (the damage can be extremely costly)
- DO NOT drive maintenance equipment onto the court without protecting the surface
- DO place pads under equipment or chairs with sharp edges to avoid surface damage
- DO use non-marking soles on footwear.
- DO NOT drag heavy objects across the surface.
But the very best solution is to call us for a quote to clean and maintain your court. We have the proven products and equipment to achieve the required results. Regular maintenance is without doubt the most cost effective way to protect your asset and playability.
- RA installer cert.
- BSA court surfacing licence
- ITF logo
- ITF tolerances