October 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Page 35 of 51

www.spor 36 // October 2017 T ennis whites and green grass courts have long been associated with Wimbledon, and with the elite players who qualify to play there. Of course, it's not just the image of the well-moneyed strawberries and champagne crowd that has kept most people from attempting to put those courts in clubs and schools across the US — it's been the thought of the upkeep. But given the increasing use of synthetic turf in athletic installations, maybe it's time to re-examine that idea. Tennis court builders say there is merit in using synthetic in a variety of situations. All the idea needs is a push. "We are installing more and more every year and I think it's a great product," says Eric Loftus of Cape & Island Tennis & Track in Pocassett, MA. "I play on it once a week myself." The option of a new synthetic turf court is something many players may fi nd attractive. Its drainage system allows it to be playable minutes after a heavy rain (alas, not something you'll fi nd at Wimbledon) and multiple matches can be run across it without it needing rest. It's also softer than asphalt and cleaner than clay. An additional bonus is the ability of the owner to select an appropriate color. While many courts are the green that is associated with Wimbledon, it's also possible to create an effect that simulates the mowing patterns. A dark brown or dark red carpet will give the appearance of clay, for those yearning for a French Open-inspired design. According to Rick Burke of NGI Systems in Chattanooga, TN another advantage of turf is its ability to be tailored to allow for maximum return on investment. "Technically, the face weight (amount of yarn per square yard), gauge of the product (width of rows at which the product is tufted) and the type of yarn utilized in construction will dictate longevity and durability of the product. Therefore, a slightly shorter and denser construction means the infi ll is more contained, allowing for better traction and less abrasion to the surface fi bers. The court will generally wear better and play more consistently. This is true for all turf courts, aggregate infi lled and artifi cial clay infi lled construction." Additionally, he says, the depth and type of the infi ll used creates the cushioning effect of the surface and also determines the ball speed and playability of the surface. Various infi ll materials are available on the market; facility owners should speak with the builder about the type of play the court will host, and what the preference of the playing crowd might be. Burke also notes that among the innovations on the market is the ability for the user to choose between polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) yarns. "PE yarns, although more expensive, are a more durable fi ber system as opposed to a PP (plastic) yarn," he states. "Comparative test results show that the newer PE product has a better wear feature as evidenced through wear (taber) abrasion tests and stud testing. The "stud test," completed at 15,000 wear cycles has proven the PE yarns improved wear ability over PP to be 500 percent better wear." Use of turf as an overlay Often, a turf court is used as an overlay for an existing facility, such as that made out of asphalt or concrete, which has become badly weathered or cracked. It is essential to note, however, that a turf court is only as good as the pavement it is laid on; therefore, a cracked pavement must be leveled to insure planarity. If it is not, the turf will wear unevenly and the cracking will be visible as uneven areas in the playing surface. Once that type of wear becomes apparent, the surface must be completely replaced; resurfacing is not a possibility. Turf in tennis court installations: an emerging market // By MARY HELEN SPRECHER All images courtesy of Pro-Sport Construction, Inc., Devon, PA

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