Surface Selection



What surface(s) do you need? Each surface type has its physical and economic characteristics of which you should be aware. This page will help you to decide which surface is best for your facility.

You will need to consider the needs of (intended) users, the local environment, and the cost of installation and maintenance.

Choosing a surface is one of the most important decisions in the construction of a tennis facility. The wrong surface for a particular location may result in it being under-used (and over-priced). The key factors that should be considered are:

- Users/Players

- Local Environment

- Costs


User/Players

Preference

Do your intended users have a preferred surface? Tennis surfaces have a range of playing characteristics, which may suit different users. Grass is a relatively fast surface – encouraging serve-volley play – while clay is one of the slowest surfaces – promoting baseline rallies. The pace of acrylic and artificial surfaces is dependent on the amount of aggregate added. For information on the classification of court surfaces click here.

Use/availability

How much will the court be used? Man-made surfaces such as asphalt and acrylic are generally more resistant to extended use than natural surfaces such as grass.

Do you want to play throughout the year? The expected playing seasons also influence surface selection. For example, both clay and grass are normally restricted to summer (or, more precisely, warm-weather) use, while other surfaces can be used for longer periods. Indoor surfaces are not subject to the effects of climate (as long as it is maintained within an appropriate range), which makes it more likely that a surface can be used all year round. Grass is not normally an indoor surface, as it requires direct sunlight to grow.

Maintenance

Surfaces require different types of maintenance. For instance, clay courts require irrigation and need regular sweeping and watering, whereas acrylic courts need very little daily maintenance, but are unavailable for days/weeks during resurfacing. Which is best suited to your intended users?


Local Envrionment

Rain delay US Open 2009Climate

What is the climate like? For outdoor courts, large temperature and humidity fluctuations may limit the tennis season, and may render some surfaces inappropriate. Grass and clay courts need a steady water supply for maintenance, yet cannot be used during cold winters because of frost damage. Extreme heat is also a potential problem, as it can discolour some surfaces and make some cushioned surfaces 'tacky' (sticky).

Local contractors and material

Do you have local suppliers and contractors for your chosen surface? An experienced local contractor will be able to advise which surfaces are appropriate for your site conditions and the availability of materials. Search the Suppliers' Directory to see what expertise you have in your area.


Costs

Have you estimated the short- and long-term costs? The initial cost and the cost to maintain a court will vary depending on the surface. These should be discussed in detail with the surface contractor, as should the cost of resurfacing. In general, 'softer' courts tend to require more frequent maintenance, but are not as expensive to resurface.



FACILITIES GUIDE CONTENTS

Follow the links below to find out more about the different considerations to take into account when building a tennis facility:

Overview

Site Plan

Outdoor Courts

Indoor Structures

Surface Selection

Surface Descriptions

Equipment

Lighting