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Tennis, basketball anyone?
Today's courts provide multiple uses

By Karen Cino


Sport courts are gaining in popularity because of their multiple uses. Jim Comp, owner of Sport Court of Milwaukee, said customers can choose from 20 different colors for their court.rt.

It’s a beautiful spring day. Tennis gear in tow, you and your partner head off to the park to get in a few sets. Alas, when you arrive all of the courts are occupied. Dejected, you plop on a nearby bench to wait your turn. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own court?

Although the clamor of other sports seems to have drowned out the tennis fan, the sport is still holding its own. “It may be down a bit from the ’70s,” observed Don Roche, owner of Pavecoat of Wisconsin, Inc. “But it’s very popular in the high schools. All the schools have courts. What starts as kid’s play becomes adult exercise.” Many of those adult players dream of having their own court. “Golf may have taken over a little bit,” added Jim Comp, owner of Sport Court of Milwaukee. “But we are still building a lot of courts.”

The typical tennis court does take up quite a slice of the backyard. “A full size court is 120 feet by 60 feet,” said Roche. Depending on your needs, the court can be made somewhat smaller. “It depends if you are serious about tennis or just want to use it for exercise,” said Comp. “It could be anywhere from 100 to 120 by 55 for example.” Half courts are another possibility. “We can install a sport court with a rebounder on a half court,” ex-plained Comp. “You can use it with anything but golf balls. They come back at you a
bit fast.”

Once you decide on the size of the court, you need to choose a surface. For practical reasons, grass and clay are rarely used in Wisconsin. “Clay is very high maintenance,” noted Roche. “It has to be groomed and raked daily.” Grass and clay are softer and easier on the legs, but the ball plays slower.

A hard surface, while more of a physical grind, greatly increases the speed of the ball. Asphalt remains the most common surface because of the low cost and maintenance associated with it, but it does need to be resurfaced every seven to eight years.

If regular resurfacing doesn’t sound appealing, then you might want to invest in a sport court, a half inch suspended surface with an open grid. “There really isn’t any maintenance except for blowing off leaves,” explained Comp. “The courts are pitched for runoff. You can even snow blow as long as you don’t have chains on the wheels.”

     The sports court "before."rt.

Sport court customers certainly seem to like the look and feel of the surface. The court comes in any combination of 20 different colors.

“We’ve done green and blue courts,” said Comp. “They’re pretty cool looking.” Tennis instructor Nancy Terrian of Pewaukee teaches on her dad’s full-size tennis sport court in Elm Grove. “It looks beautiful all the time,” commented Terrian.

Terrian’s father, Carl Tyggum of Elm Grove, an avid tennis player, had his backyard asphalt tennis court recovered with a sport court last year. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” Terrian said. “With the asphalt you had to wait hours for the court to dry after it rained. Now it’s dry within 15 minutes.”

One of the most notable differences to Terrian was the way the ball played on the sport court. “It has the feel of clay, but the playability of a hard court,” she said. “It has a lot of give to it and is much easier on the legs. I can teach for hours, come off and have no pain. I wish more high schools had them.”

To install a sport court over an existing tennis court can run $18,000 to $20,000. Building one from the ground up is even more. “You’d have to install a hard surface like asphalt or concrete first,” said Comp. “That brings the price up. But because of the low maintenance, the long term cost is less.”

If you love the idea of a sport court surface, but can’t stomach the price tag just for a tennis court, you might want to consider using it for other things. Combo courts are the hot trend. “Some tennis courts have basketball on the ends or the side and are also used for volleyball,” said Roche.

Terrian agreed that combo courts are good for a lot of people. “That way you don’t have to turn your driveway into a basketball court,” she observed. Besides net sports, a combo court can be used for other popular activities like rollerblading. The sport court surface can even be frozen in the winter for ice skating.

Of course, the court surface isn’t all you need. Nets, net poles and perhaps even soft netting or a chain link fence around the outside of the court need to be figured into the cost. “The netting not only provides a windscreen, it helps you play,” explained Terrian. “You can see the ball better.” Since tennis tends to be a four to five month sport outdoors, you may want to consider options that can extend your season. “Lights are available for night play,” noted Comp.

Tennis is a lifelong sport and many people have chosen to enjoy it in their own backyard. If you do decide to spring for your own court, at least you won’t have to holler, “We got next!” Unless your kids are already hoopin’ it up on your combo court.