Tips for Top Courts...
A Maintenance Checklist to Win More Players
The debate over which surface is best will go on and on. What's indisputable, however, is that every court needs proper care. Maintenance is directly proportionate to the amount of time a court is in use. And since neglect will lead to much faster deterioration than if a minimal level of care had been provided, you should follow a regular schedule.
Before play picks up and you get busy servicing your members' individual needs, now is the time to cast a critical eye over your facility, looking for those problems that will require minor repairs or adjustments. Knowing what to look for can make this annual task a little less taxing.
The bottom line is: People enjoy playing on a dean, well-maintained court at a clean, well-maintained facility. And, even if your club doesn't have the resources to build new courts, you can create a better atmosphere for your players. Here are a few suggestions. (For more information, contact the manufacturer of your specific tennis court surface.)
Asphalt and Concrete Courts
Remove all foreign matter - pebbles, leaves, dirt - as often as necessary. Use a power blower or rinse the surface of debris not washed away by rainfall
For indoor courts, clean run-off from roofs and overhangs as quickly as possible.
Check for birdbaths and low spots on outdoor courts. Too much time between cleaning can result in stains and water marks. Inspect overall surface conditions for peeling, divots, cracks, and color fading. During the winter months keep water from reaching cracks to prevent additional expanding and damage. If surfaces are worn and the color is faded, consult your contractor about re-coating.
Clean and fill cracks. If substantial pavement repairs are necessary, consider converting the court to a player-friendly surface such as sand-filled synthetic turf or fast-dry.
If the court has dried to gray in color, the surface requires sprinkling. Be careful, however, not to over water. You could create a soup of fast-dry material and conditions for play.
Programmed sprinkler systems are best for watering when courts are not in use, especially those that operate at night on a timer to maximize water pressure and volume. Check the sprinkler heads and their angles to maximize an even soaking.
Check your water source for mineral content. If calcium and sulphur minerals are high (and combined with hot, dry periods of weather), your court could eventually harden and cause a maintenance nightmare. A water filter may be necessary in extreme cases.
If the court is irrigated with an above-ground sprinkler system, consider converting to a sub-surface irrigation system for efficiency. Because of environmental and financial demands, this could answer your watering needs. Today's systems save 400 to 600 gallons of water per day on average.
Repair low spots by scarifying the surface at the low spots, filling them with new material and thoroughly compacting the filled areas.
Rolling is usually necessary only once or twice a week, but could be necessary after a rain. Preventing erosion by keeping the court firm. After rolling, brush the lines.
Leaves and everyday dirt can dog your drainage system. Check on-court drains after every rain. A fast-dry court doesn't dry very fast if water can't drain properly.
Groom the court to relieve any compaction or troughs usually found at the baseline. Brushing the court levels, all playing areas and clean any leaves or debris.
Brushing the same direction can cause wear on the fiber system. On a regular basis, groom the court in three directions: along the length, width and on the diagonal.
Examine all seamed areas to ensure integrity. Repair or replace sections as needed.
Inspect courts for moss or algae. Kill any growth to prevent it from returning.
Net and Posts
Before putting up your nets, replace damaged ones.
Investigate court pavement around the net post footing for signs of cracking or instability. Repair cracks before net tension further damages posts and court surface.
Oil and lubricate net post mechanisms as necessary. Replace ratchet-type metal posts with internal wind posts to avoid player injury.
While you're checking out the entire system, inspect net post finishes for signs of rust or peeling, then prime and paint as required. Also replace the net cable and net cable attachments, if either is frayed or severely rusted.
Be sure the center strap is securely fastened to its anchor. Otherwise, you'll have straying balls and a flappy net.
Make sure gates don't drag on the court surface. Gates are the first and last place your members touch, potentially recognizing the rest of the court's condition.
Oil gates, hinges and latches to keep players from cringing at the sound.
Examine fence sections and posts. Replace missing hardware, including clamps, bolts, brackets and rail caps. Repair any bent rails or posts and apply paint where rusting and peeling is evident. In addition, it's important to remove any protrusions that could injure players.
Make sure the fence fabric is securely attached to the fence frames and gates with tie wires and tension bars. Repair, re-stretch or replace sagging fence fabric.
Unroll your windscreen and inspect each piece for tears and holes. Do your repairs before stretching them across the fence. Replace if damage is substantial
Attach windscreens to the fence and gates with break-away tie-wraps, in case strong storms tear through your area. If the windscreen cannot break free, it can become damaged and damage your fencing in the process.
You'll go through a lot of break-away tie wraps. Order a reserve supply for the upcoming season.
Consider buying new windscreens with custom colors or logos to enhance the appearance of your courts and facility.
Clean all fixture lenses and remove accumulated debris from within the fixture housing.
Replace fixture lamps and bulbs as required or recommended by the lamp manufacturer. While you have the necessary machinery to change or clean bulbs, replace lights expected to burn out soon.
Check lighting systems, timers and wiring for loose connections or other potential hazards.
Inspect pole finishes for signs of rust and peeling. Prime and paint as required.
Consider replacing high mast lights with a more efficient and environmentally responsible low-mast lighting system.
Inspect benches, trash cans and other furniture for cracking and peeling paint, and refinish as needed. Also, replace any damaged hardware so players won't become injured.
Clean drinking fountains and fountain drains. At the same time, inspect all pipe connections for leaks and water pressure.
If there are no player amenities on or around the court, consider constructing a small seating area of shade shelter. You'll like how it congregates friends.
Make your site beautiful Order annuals and other seasonal displays.
Fertilize plants and lawn areas and apply fresh mulch in planting beds. Your plants will thank you.
Prune any shrub protruding through the fence in order to prevent player injury. Trim branches hanging over your fencing and court surfacing.
Test the landscaping irrigation system and repair and replace heads as required. Clean out debris from drain inlets, catch basins and trench drains, and flush drain pipes.
Consider planting hedges along the rear fences of the courts to improve ball visibility and reduce the need for windscreens.
Inspect courts and sidewalks for root damage from nearby trees and shrubs.
HELP! During the playing season you'll be faced with a number of cleaning problems. Here are several that nearly every court experiences.
SOFT DRINKS: Use a mild, low-sudsing detergent like Spic and Span and a stiff bristle broom. Take care of spills immediately to avoid accumulation of dirt, sticky spots and/or permanent staining.
LEAF STAINS: The best way to avoid leaf stains is to blow them off soon after they fall. If you missed some, use a bleaching product diluted with water. Have a bucket of water or running water nearby for rinsing. Otherwise, bleach left unattended, even diluted, can change the court's color within one-half hour.
GUM: Stiffen the gum with ice cubes (and preferably on a cold day) and it should come up with a spackling blade. Dry ice is also a great agent for getting up unwanted gum.
WATER PUDDLES: Squeegees and rollers work best for removing water before it puddles. The most recommended agent for removing water stains is a generic TSP (tri sodium phosphate), a bleaching agent combining one part household bleach to six parts water. Again, have running water available to rinse the court.
MOLD AND MILDEW: At the very least, they are a safety hazard to players. Again, use either a TSP or power washer to clean mold and mildew. Hot, humid areas are the most troubled.
ALGAE: You'll find it in the comers, areas that receive little activity. Algae must be first killed, then removed. Use one cup of chlorine to one bucket of water. But before you clean, make sure the bleach doesn't run off into shrubs and brushes. Try to agitate (sweep or brush) the areas on a regular basis.
WEEDS: Regular brushing keeps any growth problems down to a minimum. Use lawn and garden center herbicides used for grassy and broad leaf weed control.