A Guide to Maintaining Your Tennis Facility

April 10, 2017

By Mary Helen Sprecher

Don’t look now, but those courts that have seen very little use all winter are about to get very busy. And from the looks of them, they’re not ready for prime time. Oh, there’s nothing structurally wrong, but the season has left its mark on them. Your courts are in need of some sprucing-up – provided you can do it quickly and efficiently.

On the Surface

Take the time to clean the surface thoroughly. In many cases, the right tools are easy to come by – a hose with a sprayer nozzle, a brush with very soft bristles (not an abrasive tool) and some mild detergent. Spray off the dirt and debris that has collected. If mildew has set in or if there are stains left behind by leaves, tree sap or other residue, address them with the detergent. If that doesn’t work, call the installer and ask what is recommended for that particular surface. (Same principle applies before you grab the power washer – not all surfaces can handle it, and not everyone knows how to use a power washer correctly, so check with your contractor first for directions and any precautions.)

Don’t forget to clean off walkways leading up to the court, as they too can start to look dirty and uncared-for after a season of disuse.

Light Up the Night

If your facility uses lights for night play, take time to turn them on and see how they’re working. You may need to call a lighting or electrical contractor with problems, so allow yourself adequate time. Check, too, any lights around adjacent areas such as walkways or parking lots.

Net Result

Many schools, particularly those in areas where snow and ice are present throughout the winter, will remove the nets from tennis courts when the weather becomes too unhospitable to support play, and will not put them up again until spring.

Take the time to inspect your net. A net with holes in the fabric, or one with a worn or dirty headband (the white strip across the top) or a worn center strap brings down the overall appearance of a facility. Replacing nets is an inexpensive fix that creates a neat, new look. While you’re looking at your net, check to make sure you have everything you need for the season. New dowels, steel cables and lacing cord are available from suppliers.

Post Time

Net posts may need a new coat of rust-resistant paint. Be sure to guard the surface of the court against splatters while you do this. Check the mechanism that winds and holds the net, and make sure it is in good working order.

Windscreen Care

If your facility is in an area that gets heavy wind and snow loads during the off-season, chances are, the windscreens are removed each fall just before the onset of the bad weather. If you are rehanging old windscreens, hose them down to remove dust or grime that might have settled there during the winter.

Look for any places where the screen might be worn, ripped or unravelling. While some things can be mended, others may continue to deteriorate and may make your whole venue look uncared-for. If you need new windscreens, order them. (As a side note, many contractors advise having professional help when hanging screens, particularly the first time, since it leads to a neater, more uniform appearance.)

Good fences

Examine the fence around your court. Look for bulging fabric, sagging rails, any burrs or rust spots – in general, any areas of concern. You may be able to perform some repairs, while others may be best addressed by the company that put in the fence.

Check all gates, and make sure there are no problems. If, for example, a gate is dragging back and forth across the court surface, it’s not only a sign that the gate is hanging unevenly, the rubbing motion can damage the coating. Again, it’s something you’ll want to address. If your courts use fence mazes rather than gates, check the fence in the mazes to make sure its structural integrity is sound.

Sitting Room

Do you have nearby benches, tables or chairs for players to sit on while waiting for a court? Are there places for spectators to sit? Check to make sure everything is in good working order, and that nothing has been damaged or removed during the off-season. After all, you want to make the facility as inviting as possible – not just to the athletes but to the friends and family members who will come to their competitions.

Nothing is too difficult, but none of it should be left until the last minute. You’ll want to use the time you need to give the facility its spring cleaning and make it look great.

ASBA’s publication, Tennis Courts: A Construction & Maintenance Manual, can be very helpful to athletic directors and others in charge of tennis court management. The book can be purchased either in hard copy or in electronic format. For more information, go to www.sportsbuilders.org.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom):

Top photo: Photo courtesy of Sportworks Field Design, West Chester, OH

Second from top: Photo courtesy of Boston Tennis Court Construction Co., Inc., Hanover, MA

Third from top: Photo courtesy of Cape & Island Tennis & Track, Pocasset, MA

Bottom: Photo courtesy of Sunland Sports, Phoenix, AZ

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