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Tennis Court Surface Choice

Over the past 40 years, synthetic playing surfaces have taken over from the old high maintenance type courts of natural grass and loose granular products. You must now prioritize your requirements for your court. A purist tennis player may choose an International surface like Rebound Ace or Acrylic, or even a short pile (12mm) tightly bound synthetic grass. These types of surface offer excellent ball response (spin, slice, bounce) however they can be hard on the legs and body and often do not offer great versatility in a domestic setting.

Sand filled synthetic grass whilst being extremely aesthetically pleasing, offers very good playing conditions for tennis, plus add the versatility of allowing other sports to be played on it (basketball, netball, volleyball, bike riding, roller blading, cricket, golf and may others).

When choosing a specific surface you must now take extreme care to investigate the features and advantages of each product. For instance the Rebound Ace surface used at the National Tennis Centre Melbourne has been imitated but not copied, their 'similar' surfaces may not have the same resilience, bounce, spin or foot grip. Similarly Acrylic surfaces vary greatly depending on the size and quantity of the mineral filler and even on the installation technique.

Ask your contractor whether he squeegee finishes the surface or uses a non slip 'broom' finish (the latter is preferable to allow greater use of the court).

New Synthetic clay surfaces have been developed to simulate the European clay surfaces. These products allow for slide, spin and pace similar to international surfaces. These synthetic clay surfaces can be supplied in terra cotta or grass green.

Synthetic grass surfacing becomes even more complicated with different weights and measures, different heights, different yarn thickness, different yarn sources and even different types of yarn. Below are some basic definitions.

Pile height: > The height from top of the primary backing to the tips of the yarn.

Denier: > The weight in grams of 9000 linear metres of yarn. Over recent years it has been shown that 10,000 denier products have a greater 'wear life.' (note the metric conversion of denier is to Decitex which is the weight in grams of 10,000 metres of yarn).

Yarn Thickness: > The actual thickness of each blade of yarn. This is usually between 50 and 100 microns with the latter being preferred for overall strength.

Weights: > The same products can be described using several different definitions.

    1. Product or Backed weight: The weight of 1m2 of the finished product, this includes primary backing all yarn and secondary backing.
    2. Unbacked weight: The weight of 1m2 of product prior to secondary backing
    3. Yarn weight: The weight of 1m2 of all yarn used in the product.
    4. Face weight: The weight of 1m2 of all yarn above the primary backing.

As you can see it can be very confusing comparing product specification.
One simple method is to:

    1. Determine the denier.
    2. Measure pile height.
    3. Measure gap between tuft rows.
    4. Count the number of stitches per 10cm.

Many countries around the world produce synthetic yarn for tennis courts, from Australia, North America, Italy, Scotland, Holland and others. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' is fairly true.

The Polypropylene yarns from the USA appear to be superior to Australian made products yet slightly dearer. Further, the Polyethylene products from Holland, although dearer again, show far superior play and endurance qualities to any other yarn available today.

When looking at comparing products don't be content to merely compare small samples. Remember you don't play on 'mock ups' or samples. Ask your contractor to show well "played in" courts of 3 or more years old. (Take your racquet and have a hit).

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