Plexipave UK Ltd were delighted to be chosen earlier this year to supply and install the acrylic tennis surface for six brand new courts at The All England Club’s Junior facility in Raynes Park, South West London.
It features six hard courts, three outdoor and three indoor, and it will be the base for the 400 young tennis stars on the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative (WJTI) programme while improvement work is carried out to their usual home of Wimbledon’s Number One Court. The Community Sports Ground will also host Ball Boy and Ball Girl training and will be open for community use. Work was completed in time for a pre-tournament opening in mid-June.
Double Grand Slam Champion Andy Murray, fresh from being the first British man to reach the French Open finals in 79 years, was on hand to give lessons to children. He was joined by brother and fellow Grand Slam Champion Jamie Murray, pictured above, multiple Grand Slam wheelchair doubles’ champion Jordanne Whiley, former British Number one and AELTC Committee Member Tim Henman, and Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club at the event.
Merton Council’s planning committee gave permission for the building of the new sports ground in December 2014. The state-of-the-art facility in the playing fields in Grand Drive is not far from the home of tennis – the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
With an extra layer of rubberized cushion built in, the court system for the Australian Open in Melbourne is a bit more cushiony than that of the US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
John Graham, managing director of California Sports Surfaces, the makers of Australian Open courts and the Boston-based parent company of court surface brands, says the Plexicushion Prestige system used in Melbourne since the 2008 tournament has three layers of acrylic mixed with large rubber granules and then an additional three layers of acrylic mixed with smaller rubber granules on top of that—one more layer than what’s used in the DecoTurf system Graham supplies for the U.S. Open.
“It gives just enough cushion so you can feel it and your body is thankful the next day,” he says. “But there is no change in the playing characteristics of the ball bounce.”
That’s because the bounce of the ball gets determined by the top layer, the colour coating that mixes with sand to texture the surface and control the speed of play.
“We have formulas that we send out to independent labs that are accredited by the International Tennis Federation and that lab performs testing on those samples,” he says. “It is a science. They are measuring the coefficient of friction of the court and coefficient of restitution of the ball coming off the court.”
The lab testing combines these readings to give every surface a “court pace rating,” or the speed of the court. Graham says they slow down and speed up the surfaces by varying the amounts and particle size of silica sand added to the acrylic finish. For example, at Indian Wells in the California desert, the tournament wants to slow the ball down slightly in the low-humidity environment, requiring Graham’s team to up the silica to grab the ball on the surface. Every tournament—and every surface—has distinct needs.
The Prestige system, Graham says, is a different formula than DecoTurf because of its varied composition and playing characteristics. Plexicushion Prestige was designed to handle the extreme weather, such as court temperatures in Melbourne that can reach 147 degrees. “It is the formulation of the system,” he says, “players are getting the same consistent playing characteristics (no matter the weather) and from court to court.”
The Australian Open hasn’t always had the same style of court, though. While historically the tournament was played on grass, it switched to Rebound Ace, also a cushioned court system now owned by California Sports Surfaces, when it moved to Melbourne in 1988. Plexicushion took over for the 2008 tournament.
Graham says that when Craig Tiley took over Tennis Australia, the former coach at the University of Illinois was quite familiar with the Plexicushion product, a popular option throughout the USA.
With all the rubber layers figured out and the proprietary mix for playing characteristics of the top layer decided, the most visually striking choice comes in the pigments added to the top layer. While the U.S. Open’s courts offer blue for inbounds and green for out-of-bounds, Tennis Australia wanted its own look. An all-blue look.
In a visual cue now modeled across much of Asia, Tennis Australia opts for Velocity Blue inbounds and a lighter True Blue for out-of-bounds, making up the trademark “Australian Open True Blue” courts.
Plexipave UK Ltd is delighted to announce that following thorough testing procedures, a recent Plexicushion project has obtained has obtained two-star ITF recognition.
Working in conjunction with Tennis Ireland & Belfast City Council, the resurfacing of the four indoor tennis courts at the Ozone Tennis Centre, in Belfast, Northern Ireland was completed on time for the centre to re-open in Mid-January 2015 as part of a major refurbishment programme.
ITF Recognition is an acknowledgement that a court meets the recommendations provided in the ITF Guide to Test Methods for Tennis Court Surfaces, and is targeted at those venues where the standard of play demands the specification of precise playing characteristics.
To obtain Two-Star ITF Recognition, the average Court Pace Rating of the court must be within 5 points of the ITF Classified value for the surface product in addition to fulfilling the requirements for One-Star Recognition.
By developing a regular maintenance schedule you’ll be able to catch problems before they progress.
Plexipave acrylic tennis courts require very little maintenance as they are very durable. However, by ensuring a clean court you’ll prevent troublesome problems in the future.
1. Regularly sweep the surface to keep it free of dead leaves and debris. Keeping your court clean is especially important before the winter months in areas that expect snow.
2. Spilled food could lead to mold and mildew. If you do notice mold and mildew, use a mixture of 4 part water and 1 parts bleach to gently scrub the affected area. If stains are visible, gently scrub it off using a mild detergent and a soft bristled brush. You can always clean your acrylic surface with a mild detergent as a precautionary measure once a month.
3. Check your court monthly for standing water and puddles. You can do this after a rainstorm or by flooding the court yourself. If puddles do appear it is a sign of shifting and deterioration in the court. Always make sure the court is dry from rain or cleaning before play begins.
4. Acrylic courts may attract algae, particularly on the shaded areas of the court. This can carefully be removed by pressure cleaning the surface with a suitable washing machine, a service we are happy to provide.
DUAL Australian Open finalist Pat Cash has hailed the quickening of Melbourne Park courts, revealing he approached senior tournament officials two years ago pleading for a faster – and fairer – surface.
The 1987 Wimbledon champion says medium-paced Plexicushion will reward all players, encouraging more attacking tennis while still suiting defensive counter-punchers.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Cash said: “Finally, sense prevails at the Australian Open. The likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray might not be too happy about the news but it seems the court surfaces at Melbourne Park this year are going to be quicker than they have been for many years and for me that’s great.”
“Now attacking play will be rewarded, and for me, there will hopefully be a move towards something that’s almost become extinct in the modern game; variety. Let’s not beat about the bush here; tennis is not a sport solely for back-court players. And by that I mean those aforementioned three guys who have cleaned up in 11 of the last 12 grand slam tournaments”.