Artificial (also known as synthetic) grass courts have been used for many years and are one of the most popular form of tennis court surfacing for club and recreational tennis.
Most synthetic grass courts are tufted carpets. These are manufactured by looping the tufts into a woven mesh (primary backing) and then anchoring them in place by applying a backing compound (normally a latex screed).
Drainage is provided by punching holes through the backing, normally every 100mm. The pile of a sand-filled artificial grass is quite flexible and is unable to stay vertical unless it is supported by a sand infill. The sand, of a specifically selected size and shape, is brushed into the pile to the top of the surface of the carpet. The carpet is laid directly onto an asphalt base.
There are three generic types of artificial grass: long, medium, and short pile. Long pile was the original form and laid exclusively during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Many of the negative characteristics identified with long pile surfaces have been attributed to the sand infill moving during play and the failure to regularly brush courts to maintain the sand levels. Manufacturers in the early 1990’s developed artificial grass carpets with lower pile heights and more tufts per square metre. These carpets are now commonly referred to as ‘medium pile carpets’. Surfaces with a pile density at the lower end of the range rely on the proven procedure of using sand to support the pile, providing of course that the sand levels are maintained correctly. Carpets with a high tuft rate primarily rely on the density of tufts to support themselves.
While this approach reduces the quantity and movement of sand it also makes it harder to prevent the sand from compacting and this can lead to drainage problems. To minimise sand movement, but ensure adequate long-term performance, an increasing number of surfaces have been introduced that have between 55,000 and 65,000 tufts per square metre.
The density of tufts does not seem to have a significant effect on the court pace, although carpets with a low number of tufts per metre square are considered by some to be slow when new. Some products also use a textured yarn to form the pile. This type of pile does not generally offer the same resistance to the ball and the carpets have a similar court pace rating to medium pile carpets (medium fast to fast). The use of alternative surface dressings (e.g. rubber crumb) also allows manufacturers to adjust the playing characteristics of a surface. An artificial grass tennis court installation, which has numerous advantages.
Come rain or shine
Unlike natural grass, artificial grass tennis courts are far less slippery in wet weather, and also dry out much quicker. This means that players can get back on and continue their game, increasing the court’s playing hours. Artificial grass can even be made out of a special yarn that doesn’t shine when wet or under floodlights.
Over time, natural grass can become uneven and bumpy, which creates unfavourable playing conditions and can even increase the risk of injury. However, thanks to its resistant composition, an artificial equivalent remains smooth, providing true bounce and consistent play.
Furthermore, artificial grass gives developing players the opportunity to master all areas of their game, as it tends to play a little bit slower than natural grass. What this means is that the court can be used by players of all ages and experience levels as the slower pace of the game allows them to spend time perfecting their skills. As the rallies tend to last longer, players have the opportunity to develop their technique and work on ‘constructing’ a point by moving their opponent around and finding their weaknesses.
Attract and retain members
With so much competition among clubs, the standard and variety of facilities on offer is more important than ever. One sure fire way to boost your profile at a local level is to invest in a new artificial grass court. Not only do they meet the highest playing standards set by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), they are also available in various colour combinations, which will guarantee you stand out from the crowd.
In addition, it is also worthwhile considering installing a mix of courts with different surfaces types, such as clay. Each one will offer its own playing characteristics and will therefore teach users to adapt to different conditions.
Unlike natural grass, the coloured lines will not fade, even when exposed to sunlight and vigorous play. The surface is also more resilient in general, and despite players pivoting and twisting on it, artificial grass is far less likely to get damaged.
General maintenance is quick and easy, and brushing courts frequently is enough to ensure they stay smart, and don’t crack or de-laminate.
Better for the body
Tennis can be a physically demanding sport, with players quickly darting from one side to the other in an attempt to get to the ball in time. However, another benefit of artificial grass tennis courts is that they are softer than a hard court, and therefore gentler and more forgiving on the joints. Compared to a natural grass court, artificial grass is also less slippery, which helps to further prevent the risk of injury.
TigerTurf (UK) Ltd – Article first appeared in Tennis Threads magazine
TigerTurf (UK) Ltd are a leading manufacturer of artificial grass. For more information, please click [here]