tennis court builders

tennis court surface

The tennis court surface. 4 best modern surfaces

The tennis court surface is a fundamental part of the game of tennis.

Without any doubt, tennis is one of the most entertaining and favorite games among millions of people of all ages across the globe. It improves both physical and mental health, brings positive emotions and gives you social benefits as well. What a pleasure to play tennis with your friend, especially outside! All you need is a racquet, tennis balls, a court and a partner. Alternatively, you can even play on your own, practicing serve on the court or hitting groundstrokes and volleys against the wall.

Tennis Court Surface Characteristics

Tennis can be played on different surfaces and each surface has its own characteristics, which affects the speed and style of play. I guess you wondered which tennis court surface is the best. It’s quite difficult to answer this question, as each type of surface has its advantages and disadvantages and appeals to a certain playing style. For example, Rafael Nadal, an extraordinary Spanish player, is the best clay court specialist, when Roger Federer performs better on grass courts. Novak Djokovic, another genius tennis player is more confident on hard courts.

Which tennis court surface is the best?

Let’s take a look at the most popular tennis court surfaces and compare their characteristics. There are four major types of courts, depending on the materials used for the court surface: clay courts, hard courts, grass courts and carpet courts.

 

Clay courts

 

Clay courts are made of crushed stones, shale and bricks and have red or orange color; less frequently, when they are composed of basalt, a natural stone, they have green colour. The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is played on clay courts, when green clay is used only for the tournaments in the United States.

 

On clay, tennis ball bounces slower and higher, than on other courts, which gives advantages to confident baseline players, who adds a lot of topspin and play mostly in a defensive style. Another key feature of clay courts is the ability to slide to the ball, so the player needs good flexibility. Among the reasons why the play on a clay court is a good idea are the following: the softer surface of this type of court is not so harmful to the body; this surface improves endurance and physical condition, as the player needs to run more and tries to chase every ball. Moreover, a slower game teaches patience and gives more time to make a right decision. Definitely, the most talented and award-winning player, is a Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who managed to win The French Open trophy 12 times and is rightly called “the king of clay”.

En tout cas surface

En tout cas surface.

 

The En-tout-cas surface

In addition, “en-tout-cas” courts are worth mentioning. En-tout-cas, which means “in any case” or “in any conditions” in French, is a top-quality and the most famous court construction among tennis court builders. This is the well-known artificial sports surface builder, made from crushed bricks and stone. The main advantage of these courts is greatly improved drainage system, that helps the courts to drain quickly after the rain. In Australia, en-tout-cas courts are mostly used in Victoria.

 

Grass courts

Grass Court Surface

The Grass Court Surface.

Grass courts are the fastest of all four types of the surfaces, the ball bounces fast and low to the ground, that is why the rallies become much shorter, than on hard, and especially than on clay courts. They are made of natural grass, which demands high maintenance cost, due to constant watering and mowing, that’s why they are not as widely spread, as other tennis surfaces. The most famous tournament, played on grass courts, is Wimbledon, which takes place in London in July. Grass courts favor serve-and-volley tennis players, as serve plays a vital part there, as well as confident net skills. Roger Federer, an outstanding Swiss player, is “unbeatable on grass”, thanks to his perfect technique, quick reaction and good footwork. However, in 2019, Novak Djokovic proved that he could be a decent opponent on grass court as well, winning his 5th title in an epic match on Wimbledon courts.

 

 

 

The Hard Court Surface

 

Hard courts are made of rigid materials and are favorite for most of the players worldwide. They have a smooth surface, so the bounce of the ball is rather predictable and the player can control the game easier. On this type of tennis surface the ball bounces fast and high, so players can hit a big variety of strokes, add spin and make the game more dynamic. Hard courts are suitable for players with aggressive and attacking style, who have powerful serve as well. Two Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open and the Australian Open are played on hard courts, the only difference is that the American Grand Slam uses an acrylic hard court, while the Australian Open uses a synthetic one. An interesting fact is that the Australian Open was played on grass courts before, but switched from them to hard courts in 1988.

The only disadvantage of a hard court is that it has the higher risk of getting an injury, players’ joints suffer a lot when jumping on hard ground. Nevertheless, there is a solution: the cushioning makes the surface softer, which minimizes shock on the body and helps to prevent injuries. A cushioned tennis court is a system with a concrete base with several layers of cushioned rubber, applied before the standard acrylic finish. It helps to reduce impact on athlete’s most vulnerable parts of the body: knees, ankles and feet.

The hard court surface

The hard court surface

 

 

Novak Djokovic, a real mental giant and one of the most complete athletes to have ever played the game, is definitely considered one of the best players on hard court. A Serbian is a record holder of Australian Open titles and won his 8th trophey on Australian tennis court surface in 2020, beating an Austrian Dominic Thiem in an epic 5 set match.

Carpet or indoor courts

Carpet in tennis means any removable court covering, which is installed temporarily for tennis events. It has soft surface, can be made of different materials, from turf to rubber and may have different bright colors. These courts are similar to grass courts, as the ball bounces fast and low, so they are suitable for players with a good serve and a confident net game. Carpet courts are not used in professional events anymore, they have been replaced by removable hard courts, but some big tournaments, such as the Australian Open (until 2007), WCT Finals, Paris Masters, U.S. Pro Indoor and Kremlin Cup were held on this type of surface before.

Indoor tennis courts are rather convenient, as they are easy to install and maintain and allow to play during any weather conditions. These courts are used for modern indoor professional events such as the ATP Finals.

 

As you can see, tennis has a great variety of surfaces to choose from, you just need to try out different kinds of courts to find the most suitable for your style of play.

The Tennis Court Surface in Commercial Landscaping

The Tennis Court is a popular addition to many of Melbournes public spaces. The surface needs to be both hard wearing and low maintenance. Sand filled artificial grass, PMMA (Acrylic), or polyurethane with fine aggregate are often selected for commercial landscaping tennis courts. For the tennis courts at Balwyn Community Centre, Euroclay was chosen for the playing surface. This is a high quality synthetic surface that provides all of the features of a clay tennis surface with very low maintenance. It even looks and plays like en tout cas, but does not require rolling or watering. Even better, tennis can still be played in wet conditions. Ideal for the diehard tennis enthusiast home owner as well as public spaces.

 

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Euroclay tennis court Balwyn Community Centre

Tennis Court Construction Balwyn Community Centre

Tennis court construction requires attention to detail and a very solid foundation.  First of all, the area must be excavated to a good depth. Any organic material under the tennis court will eventually rot away leaving a void under the tennis court. This could lead to an eventual low point and spoil the playing surface. After clearing the organic matter, the sub-grade below the tennis court is flattened. Ideally the court should be designed with a North – south orientation, but this is not always possible in residential home tennis courts.

Sport facilities construction and repair Balwyn

Tennis court construction Balwyn

The geotextile layer for your tennis court

A geotextile layer is laid over the sub-grade to block any root growth from nearby trees and ensure the subgrade does not affect drainage of the road base by oozing up and filling the voids.

 

Tennis Court Solid Road Base Foundation

The road base material spread evenly over the area followed by even more flattening. It is essential that a robust foundation is created to maintain the stability of the playing surface. The thick layer of road base should be at lease 150mm after it has been flattened and compressed to ensure a stable foundation for the tennis court.

Tennis Court Construction Layers

Typical Tennis Court Construction Layers

 

Tennis Court Asphalting

Ideally, two different layers of Asphalt should be used in the tennis court base with two different specifications. The lower layer of asphalt is a thicker, courser asphalt with the upper layer much finer. The fine upper layer needs to be as flat as possible. The court is constructed to shed water in two planes and it is essential that puddles do not form on the surface.

 

Tennis Court Cushioning layer

The optional cushioning layer is an ideal choice for residential and club tennis courts. The cushioning layer reduces impact on a tennis player’s feet, ankles and knees. By providing a small amount of flexibility, it also makes the upper playing surface more durable. The playing surface is much less likely to crack and peel if it is bonded to a surface with a little bit of “give”. The Australian open surface uses Plexicushion.

 

The Playing Surface

Modern material technology has given the customer a wide range of choices for the playing surface itself. Many people will remember the when the Australian Open was played at Kooyong on grass surfaces. Grass courts are still common to tennis tournaments in Great Britain and most notably Wimbledon. In the countries in continental Europe, clay courts are often use a clay system known as “en tout cas” meaning “in any case”. Although this is a French phrase, the company, En tout cas,is British. They came up with a clever solution to the problems caused by water on clay tennis surfaces. The solution is to use crushed brick which greatly improves drainage.  Most clay courts today use crushed brick as the main constituent of the surface.

Table Tennis Table with bespoke surface treatment.

Landscaping the public space around the tennis court.

 

Balwyn Community Centre Tennis Court

Tennis courts in public spaces like the Balwyn Community Centre need to be low maintenance and durable. The landscape architects, ACLA, wisely chose Euroclay for the playing surface. This is a surface that provides all of the features of a clay tennis surface with very low maintenance. It even looks and plays like en tout cas, but notes not require rolling or watering. Even better, tennis can still be played in wet conditions. Ideal for the diehard tennis enthusiast home owner.

 

Tennis Court Repair

The landscaping project at Balwyn Community Centre also involved making repairs to an adjoining court. A large tree near the tennis court had caused damage dur to the tree root growing into the court. It was necessary to dig a trench between the tree and the court to install a root barrier to prevent further damage. All of the roots under the court had to be removed as organic material rotting away under a court can lead to further damage in the future.

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Court Construction Balwyn Community Centre

 

What is Euroclay?

Euroclay is a UV stabilised polyethylene carpet with a sand infill. Polyethylene is a very tough material that is also very stain resistant. It is also relatively inexpensive, so using this type of construction will save money in both construction and maintenance.

 

Other types of construction

There are of course, other types of court construction techniques. The lower layers can be concrete or can be permeable materials with drainage systems. The goal in all of these is to provide a playing surface that is durable, even, well drained, and provides a fair game to all players.

 

Landscaping Tennis Courts

The courts need to be designed and constructed with a slight fall to shed water. It is essential that the water can drain to the outside of the court and into the surrounding area. It is important that any gardens near the courts are designed and constructed so that material from the gardens cannot wash onto the court playing surface.

Tennis Court Landscaping

Tennis Court Landscaping at Balwyn Community Centre.

Consideration should also be given player safety with any garden edging or branches near the court. Tennis players often need to go into the nearby gardens to retrieve tennis balls, so this should also be considered? For some privacy around a residential tennis court some fast growing climbing plants would be a good option.

 

Contact Red’s Landscaping for an integrated Tennis Court and Landscaping package.

 

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