Court surface

kayak4water

New User
Our city park's two tennis courts were resurfaced in 2014 and in 2018. Cracks up to half an inch wide have developed on the court. As well, the court has bumps and ridges in various locations, including the wide corner of one service box which can make the ball bounce comically high. The court is on the side of a moderate hill in rainy Western Washington state. After a good rain, water seeps up from some of the cracks. On the uphill side of the courts, stands the hitting wall.

What measures should we undertake to extend the interval between resurfacing events for these courts?

One thought: trenching the uphill side and installing a drainage system to rechannel the water from running under the courts. I don't know if we need to rebuild the court from the bottom up.

Thank you
 

Steady Eddy

Legend
Wouldn't your city be dealing with people who are experts on this? I've spent a lot of time playing tennis, and I have no idea what is the most economical solution for this problem.
 

kayak4water

New User
Wouldn't your city be dealing with people who are experts on this? I've spent a lot of time playing tennis, and I have no idea what is the most economical solution for this problem.
Given that the courts were done only 4 years apart, and only three years having passed since the last resurfacing, the city doesn't know how to find the "experts" or the experts aren't. $20,000 a pop every 3-4 years isn't good.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
Our city park's two tennis courts were resurfaced in 2014 and in 2018. Cracks up to half an inch wide have developed on the court. As well, the court has bumps and ridges in various locations, including the wide corner of one service box which can make the ball bounce comically high. The court is on the side of a moderate hill in rainy Western Washington state. After a good rain, water seeps up from some of the cracks. On the uphill side of the courts, stands the hitting wall.

What measures should we undertake to extend the interval between resurfacing events for these courts?

One thought: trenching the uphill side and installing a drainage system to rechannel the water from running under the courts. I don't know if we need to rebuild the court from the bottom up.

Thank you
The situation you describe is indicative of water intrusion into the structure below the court, and the wide cracks are indicative of the concrete or asphalt structure of the court falling apart due to that water intrusion underneath. Resurfacing will not fix the problem. Resurfacing usually only makes minor surface repairs to the court surface, then adds a thin layer of new material over the top to provide that fresh surface. If you have problems underneath, the newly resurfaced court will very soon crack and bubble, and you'll be in the same situation you are now experiencing.

You're going to have to dig down and fix the water problem underneath the court surface and rebuild from the bottom up. That's an expensive proposition. Once that is done, you can put what is called a "post-tension concrete" surface on top which provides your court surface. Post-tension concrete uses criss-crossed rebar across the entire court area and after the concrete is poured, tension is applied to the rebar that is sticking out the sides of the court area in order to put stress into the concrete. That stress actually increases the longevity of the surface, and even if it does crack those cracks will not propagate. The newly poured surface is thick - ten to twelve inches, and should last decades without much degradation.

I don't know exactly where you are but in the Seattle and greater eastside area, take a look at the courts at Juanita or Woodinville High schools. These are recently constructed courts using post-tension concrete, and the Juanita courts were just finished this past February.

There may be some impact in permitting. Typically doing something like adding draining triggers a whole host of other requirements that make may the project **very** expensive. You'll need a civil engineer to take a look an initial look at the project for feasibility.

As for costs, take what you think a full court rebuild should be, and double it. Then double it again. You will then be in the ball park. With permitting, engineering, bidding, and construction, expect about eight months to a year. I don't know if a city budget can accommodate that level of expense, but doing it wrong means the same problems will recur really soon. It's a tough situation but the costs are just the current environment we are in.

If you want to see what a resurfacing accomplishes when there are underlying problems, look at Grass Lawn park in Redmond. The courts were resurfaced two years ago over a surface that has water problems underneath. From a distance the courts look immaculate but in many areas the new layer of concrete has completely come off the original surface underneath, and there are places where the court surface is at different heights. All of this happened since the recent resurfacing.

Good luck!
 
Once that is done, you can put what is called a "post-tension concrete" surface on top which provides your court surface.
This is the way. Resurfucing is pointless. I live in a place with a lot of expansive soil, and older courts are/were constantly cracking. Trying to resurface would result in massive cracks again sooner than later. Once they started ripping out the old courts and putting in/building new courts with post-tension, all the problems went away.
 

kayak4water

New User
Thanks for the thoughtful insights.

Thoughts regarding drainage: Once done, I'd expect some time during which the substrate would consolidate in response to the decrease in water volume, which probably happens during dry periods too.
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The hitting wall has several drains from which I've never seen water drip. I wondered if some drainage measures were taken decades ago that were overwhelmed by the inevitability of entropy.
 
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Injured Again

Hall of Fame
Thanks for the thoughtful insights.

Thoughts regarding drainage: Once done, I'd expect some time during which the substrate would consolidate in response to the decrease in water volume, which probably happens during dry periods too.
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The hitting wall has several drains from which I've never seen water drip. I wondered if some drainage measures were taken decades ago that were overwhelmed by the inevitability of entropy.
I don't know where the courts are that you are referring to but drainage needs to be discussed with the permitting team for the city/county. If you have enough drainage issues, you may be forced to do stormwater management with an underground tank or other measures that will make the cost of the courts astronomical and probably too high to get done. A good civil engineer can help with the design so you can do enough to mitigate the problem, but not so much that you trigger these other more expensive conditions.

In Washington State, I think there is really only one engineering firm that is expert at outdoor athletic field design, and really only one company who can build the courts.
 

SavvyStringer

Professional
Our city park's two tennis courts were resurfaced in 2014 and in 2018. Cracks up to half an inch wide have developed on the court. As well, the court has bumps and ridges in various locations, including the wide corner of one service box which can make the ball bounce comically high. The court is on the side of a moderate hill in rainy Western Washington state. After a good rain, water seeps up from some of the cracks. On the uphill side of the courts, stands the hitting wall.

What measures should we undertake to extend the interval between resurfacing events for these courts?

One thought: trenching the uphill side and installing a drainage system to rechannel the water from running under the courts. I don't know if we need to rebuild the court from the bottom up.

Thank you
You need to have the entirety of the court starting from the baselayer up redone. Diverting water from under the courts is certainly something that should be done but without redoing the underlying broken structure you're just going to end up with cracked courts again. A few of our local clubs tried to do the same thing just patch and resurface over cracks and they come back within a year. They finally figured out after paying for paint twice in 3 years that they actually needed to fix the structure of the court surface.
 

Tennisist

Semi-Pro
A non-traditional suggestion here: cheap asphalt + rubber surface. I've played on some cheaply constructed courts and I quite liked it. The construction was simple: asphalt layer + rubber mats. Rubber surface was not continuous ( like on some of the better courts ), but simply squares laying on the ground. There were seams between them, but they did not affect the play. It was similar to how runners' lanes feel on soccer stadiums. It was soft underfoot, bounce was great, spins were wonderful. Asphalt, like everywhere, would of course crack in 2-3 years, but the city should be able to lay a new one, just as it does on all other streets in town as they age. Then you just lay down the rubber mats again, and paint the lines. This appears to be much cheaper than the "post-tension concrete", and playing on a rubber court is much nicer than playing on concrete.
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Asphalt can also be laid very properly -- when desired. The highway that goes through my town gets repaved every 10 years. The nearby streets are all cracked up and gone in ~3 years. Apparently, different crews doing the job...
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Another BIG question is How long does the "post-tension concrete" last?
 

Johnny505

Semi-Pro
The courts are still open for public use....

Carry on playing on them, when you fall and injure yourself due to the poor upkeep of the courts, sue the city/owner for $$$$$m.

Buy your plot of land and build your crib and courts to your spec with proper drainage, employ full time maintenance staffs for their upkeep.
 

smboogie

Semi-Pro
Resurfacing will not fix the issue even with the installation of slip sheet solutions, eventually the cracks will come back due to the under layers having been broken down or improperly constructed. The fix, and I'm not engineer, is to take them out down to base, fix the water/drainage then build a new foundation, overlay courts on top and they should be good with proper maintenance. This requires a decent investment, depending on number of court several $100k's.

A cheaper fix would be the overlay style solutions like sport courts, there is a brand that is USTA/ITF approved called VersaCourt that could work. I have seen them, not played on them, and they appear to be a good, lower cost solution vs a complete rebuild.
 

hadoken

Semi-Pro
So I have done a lot of research on this issue for my personal court and a place like Seattle with all of it's rain and winter temps is basically a losing proposition for a long term fix on an older court with drainage issues. You can divert the water to see if it helps but I don't think you can eliminate it.

There are newer technology options for putting full membranes on older courts but you might end up with lifting if moisture gets stuck. In my research, I see a decent number of municipalities have put bids for Titan Trax installs. It might be worth reaching out to those locals to get their thoughts on how well that has worked.
 
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