The construction of a tennis court can be quite a process, requiring dedication, care and constancy. In this article we are going to explain how to build a clay court, which is a classic tennis surface. It will give some general tips for those who are thinking about installing a clay court, explaining the steps necessary and highlighting some of the more common mistakes in this type of construction.
Basically, a clay court needs to have a series of layers consisting of:
- Crushed stone, often made with bricks chopped into 3 or 4 parts.
- Gravel, often made with bricks chopped into 25 or 30 parts.
- Surface mixture.
Tennis court measures
Regulation courts are 23.77 meters long and, depending on whether they are singles or doubles, the width should be 8.23 meters or will be 10.97 meters, respectively.The total space required is at least 33-35 long and 16-18 meters wide, however. The courts usually average a depth of about 20 centimeters.
The net should be 1.07 meters tall at the poles, and at the center it should be 0.914 meters tall.
At the height of the poles, the network should measure 1.07 meters, and in the center of this height should have 0.914 meters.
When the clay is obtained from tiles or hollow bricks, the court will havea clear orange color, which is almost phosphorescent. A court like this allows for more fluid movements by the tennis players.
If you can’t find clay directly in the form of small rubble, then you can break it up yourself. In that case it’s better to use bricks that are not fully cooked, which allows you to break them more easily. Building a clay court can require a lot more bricks than you might think, so take that into account when you are planning.
Having some sort of system to apply water to the court is important throughout the entire construction process. Salt and herbicides maybe also be neededto prevent plants from growing into the court when you are putting in the initial layers.
Clay court construction steps
After choosing the surface on which the court will be built, the ground must be smoothed. It is often necessary to fill the location with earth or reduce the surface if it is too high. There should always be a gap between the court and the surrounding area, so that rain water drains properly around the court.
Once it is smoothed, the earth must be burnt to prevent the growth of plants that break the court. Over the layer of burnt earth goes limestone, with the layer of rubble that gives sustenance to the field. Above the limestone you start with the bricks cut into thick blocks. It is very important to ‘tamp’the ground flat, well before placing the next layer, which can be done by means of a tamper with a diameter of between 20 and 30 centimeters.
It is always necessary to progress in this layer by chopping the bricks in strips of two meters over the length of the court. A common mistake is to cover the entire surface with bricks all at once, which then makes the issue of leveling difficult, which is vital for the functioning of the court.
The second layer of bricks should also be made in these strips, taking care that the meeting points of the strips are tamped evenly. You can rent a machine both for tamping and for chopping bricks, which can save a lot of time. It could even make sense to buy those machines if you think of doing several courts. But if you do not have that possibility, old fashioned manual labor gives a similar result.
After these completing these processes, you continue with the pellet layer that goes over the fine chopped brick. This can be sprinkled with a shovel over the previously tamped bricks. Or it can also be poured in the form of mounds every one meter along the strip. Then the pellets should be distributed through the area with a soft bristle brush, so that a fine layer remains, until the stones below are interspersed. Then you should tamp over the pellets so that the court is flat.
This is when a roller is important. For the construction of a tennis court, a metal roller between 50 and 60 centimeters in diameter should be used. In this third pellet layer the roller must be passed after tamping a couple of times.
Once the entire court is covered with flattened pellets, the court must be flooded. If everything has been done properly, the water will drain off. If some puddles remain, then you should measure the court with a level to see if there are uneven areas.
If the court is elevated, it can be rammed until it is lowered. If the problem is lowered areas, that part of the court should be filled with small chopped bricks and then pellets up. If the pellets are cast without the bricks, there will be a risk that the surface becomes soft and sinks down again.
Once the court is leveled, we proceed to spread clay mixed with sealing pellets over the court. Then roll over the court both lengthwise and widthwise several times. After this the marking strips are put on the court, which are made of plastic, with special nails that are sold in specialized sports stores.
Then the last stage is to spread pure clay dust across the field and roll over it with the roller until it is even.
But even after all that work, you still can’t play right away. The maintenance of a court at the beginning is vital. It should be watered every day and rolled over systematically for at least 15 days before you start to use it.