Here are a Few Tips for Preparing Your Court(s) for the Spring.
Asphalt or Concrete Courts
1. DRAINAGE: Clear out an area at least 2′ wide and 3″ to 6″ deep along the low side of the tennis courts (the side the water drains to). Make sure that no grass or dirt has collected on the edge of the court. The drainage ditch outside of the court area should have a positive flow (away from the court) due to the enormous amount of water coming off a hard court after a rain. There should be no standing water adjacent to the court as this may cause cracking, settling or both.
2. PRESSURE WASH: Clean the entire court area with a pressure washer, paying close attention to those areas that hold water or are accumulating dirt. Also, any candy, soft drinks, gas or other staining items should be washed off the surface to prevent decay of the acrylic color. When pressure washing, make sure the washer unit does not leak gas or oil. This is VERY important as these liquids will rapidly decay and soften the court surface. We generally use a either a 2,500 or 3,000 psi pressure washer with the 15 degree nozzle tip. Do not use any “add in” cleaning materials as this may stain the court.
An alternative to pressure washing is a diluted mix of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. The mix should be sprayed on a small area, approximately 10′ x 20′, allowed to sit for 3 – 4 minutes, and then immediately rinsed off. Be very careful to remove all bleach as this could stain the court surface.
3. CRACKS: Patch all cracks with an acrylic crack patch material. This procedure will prevent the cracks from widening and causing severe structural damage to the court. If weeds or grass are growing in the cracks, remove them and then spray a grass/weed killer in before patching. Be careful to use a water-based week killer as an oil based product will prevent the crack patch from bonding to the asphalt.
4. NETS: Clean the head band with a strong mildew remover. After cleaning, spray on a good silicone or Armoral type preserver. Check to make sure the side lacing is secure and that the anchor pipe holding the center strap is clean and rust free. Now would also be a good time to check the center strap, in particular the double-snap hook which connects it to the anchor pipe.
5. NET POSTS: Wire brush, prime and re-paint all net posts. Special care should be taken with the crank, if the crank is exposed to the weather. Internal crank posts should be sprayed with silicone or some other lubricant to insure against oxidizing and locking up. If your posts are bent, they can be re-heated by a welder and pulled back into shape. If the poles are pulling up the concrete base, it is best to dig them out and re-set in a new foundation. Typically this hole should measure 2.5′ x 2.5′ x 3′ utilizing 3,000 psi concrete. Posts are set 42′ apart.
6. STERILIZE: Place a good vegetation sterilant within 12″ outside the area of the court. A border of at least 12″ is necessary to prevent encroachment of weeds, grasses and roots. Follow all directions when applying weed killers and sterilants.
7. LIGHTS: Check all fixtures for rust, loose bolts and loose connections. Pay close attention to any signs of wear. Clean and paint where necessary. Completely clean the lens of the lights. As much as 50% of your lighting can be lost with dirty lenses. Windex can be used to clean the glass protective shield, as well as the reflective lense inside the lighting case.
8. TREES: Trim any limbs of trees or bushes that hang over the tennis court surface. Trees and bushes drop leaves, twigs, seeds and other debris which are detrimental to the court surface. If the limbs are not removed, the courts should be blown off on a regular basis to insure that no damage is done to the court surface. As in the case with the pressure washer, make sure that the blower does not leak gas or oil as this would do serious damage.
9. FENCE: Check the fence for any missing ty wires. Also check to make sure that the gates are not digging into the court surface when they are opened and closed. Fencing should require minimum care but if left totally unexamined, it can cause permanent damage to the tennis court.
10. EQUIPMENT: Oil and lubricate your roller and/or power unit. Clean and repaint any metal that has rusted or shows sign of wear. Check oil, plugs, tires and hinges for wear. Check all of your brooms and line sweepers making sure that you have spare brushes and brooms. You can get by not rolling the courts for a few days, but the court lines must be brushed daily and the court should be broomed twice a day at least.
Information provided by: Gary D. Whalen