Hard and soft courts: Tennis players commonly classify tennis courts as hard courts or soft courts.
A hard court is one made of asphalt or concrete, usually covered with an acrylic coating. The coating protects the court from the elements, enhances its appearance, and affects the playing characteristics of the court. Generally, a hard court yields what is known as a ‘fast’ game, meaning that a tennis ball bounces off the court surface at a low angle. The speed and angle of the tennis ball coming off a bounce are determined by the power and spin of the hit and are relatively unaffected by the surface of the court.
Properly installed, hard courts are generally considered to be durable and to require relatively low maintenance. Installation costs range from $18,000 – $40,000, depending upon the specific construction.
When a resilient layer (or layers) of cushioning material is applied over an asphalt or concrete court, a cushioned court results.
Cushioned courts usually have excellent playing characteristics and an all-weather surface for year round play. These attributes make them popular with players but such courts are considerably more expensive than hard courts; cushioning adds $5,000 – $25,000 to the cost of the court, over and above the cost of the asphalt or concrete base.
Soft courts, including clay, fast dry, grass and sand-filled synthetic turf, are entirely different from their hard counterparts. They are quite popular with players because they are easy on feet, back and legs. With the exception of grass and synthetic turf, they produce ‘slow’ play which lends itself to a strategy game which many club players enjoy.
Grass and synthetic turf produce a fast game and, according to some experts, lend themselves to the largest variety of tennis strokes. In some areas, fast dry, clay and grass courts are less expensive to construct than hard courts, but they require daily care and, for clay and fast dry courts, annual repair and/or resurfacing. Soft courts are easily damaged, but also easily repaired. These courts usually must be closed for the winter in colder climates.
Size: For an individual court, the outside playing dimensions are 36′ X 78′ for doubles, 27′ X 78′ for singles. An overall site of at least 60′ X 120′ is strongly recommended. Where space is limited, the minimum overall dimensions which are acceptable for play are 56′ X 114′.
Site basics: Subsoil stability and drainage conditions are important to tennis court construction. Many sites may not require extensive site investigation. In some cases, shallow hand dug test pits, auger borings or backhoe excavation can reveal conditions which may cause potential problems.
The presence of certain conditions, however, mandates more careful site investigation. These include:
* peat or organic soils
* uncontrolled fill materials or waste materials
* expansive soils
* high ground water
Special usage of courts, such as conversion to an ice rink over winter, will also require additional site review.