June Tennis Diary

april-diary-tennishillabycu.jpg

By Laurence Gale

The tennis season is now well underway, with particular attention still being paid to rolling the courts, utilising a one ton roller. The combination of the rolling and the fact that the soil profiles are now drying out is now contributing to the production of firmer and faster courts. This month sees the continuation of regular maintenance tasks - grass cutting, grooming, brushing, aerating, feeding and watering. Particular attention should be made to your irrigation regimes ensuring that all turf surfaces receive adequate amounts of water to maintain turf growth. Ground staff will also be trying to maintain the sward height at between 6-10mm depending on the level of play.

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

May Maintenance Tasks for Tennis

Natural Grass Tennis Courts

Task Frequency Reason
Aeration When conditions allow Generally, during the playing season, no aeration works will be completed as it may disturb the playing surface.
Brushing / Sweeping Daily / Weekly Prior to mowing, the surface should be thoroughly brushed. Continue to brush courts daily to remove moisture from the grass surface, stopping the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut on the dry grass.
Drainage Weekly Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.
Diseases Daily / Weekly Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.
Fertiliser programme If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured) Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

In June you would be looking to use a 12/0/9, or similar compound fertiliser blend, or apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through to July. The choice of material and how well it works will be dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and soil temperature being the catalyst for growth.

The performance of slow release fertilisers can be influenced by the weather, often producing a flush of growth when you least expect it. Some grounds managers may use straight compound granular or liquid fertilisers which activate when in contact with moist soil conditions, effectively stimulating grass growth within days.

Grooming / verticutting As required Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side grass growth and reduce the amount of debris in the sward. These operations are carried out on a regular basis often weekly or fortnightly. These operations are completed in conjunction with your mowing regimes.
Inspect tennis structures As required Continue to check and repair fences, tennis posts, and nets.
Irrigationdry-patch-on-tennis.jpg As required It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes. Irrigation is required for court preparation and repairs. It's important to ensure that the water gets down into the root-zone, a minimum of 150mm to encourage deep rooting. Check with a probe. Allow to dry out and repeat irrigation process. Allowing surfaces to remain dry can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality. To help overcome dry patch the use of wetting agents have now become an integral part of the maintenance regime with applications being applied on a monthly basis throughout the summer. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link. Irrigation
Litter / debris Daily/weekly Inspect and remove debris from playing surface litter or any wind blown tree debris, litter, twigs and leaves.
Machinery, repairs & maintenance Daily/weekly Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.
Materials Inspection Estimate and order seed, loams and fertilisers and any other consumables required.
Marking out As required To ensure accurate lines, consult the Lawn Tennis Association's rules and regulations and use approved line marking materials, set out base lines and side lines using the 3,4,5 method.
Mowing As required The mowing height on the courts should be lowered to around 6-10mm height for the playing season, subject to local weather conditions, but remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut. The less stress placed on the grass at this vital time the better the results further on into the season.

Mowing frequency will be dependant on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff & machinery), but generally it may vary from three days a week to a weekly frequency.

Pest control As required Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why worms are present. Ph level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed.
Rolling Daily / Weekly Continue to roll the courts. Firstly, roll across the line of play followed by rolling down the length of play. Timing of this operation is vitally important. Trying to roll when soil conditions are wet or too dry will not achieve the desired effect. Ideal rolling conditions would suggest the soil be in a state of plasticity-or "plasticine".

Gradually build up roller weight by moving onto the next size of cylinder mower to a maximum of one ton. Consolidation is your aim and the quality of rolling will show when you produce your early season courts.

If the roller is causing damage to the turf surface (ridging) stop rolling and wait for drier conditions.

Verticutting/ grooming Fortnightly or as required. With the development of mowing technology most fine turf mowers have cassette fitting attachments that offer additional maintenance operations, such as grooming and verticutting. These are operations that effectively remove thatch and side shoot growth enabling the promotion of a upright plant and denser turf growth.
Seed bare & worn areas When conditions allow Seeding sparse or bare areas can be continued. Any rise in soil or air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Soil tests Ideally once or twice a year, or as required. Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:
  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.
  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.
  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.

Weed control As required It is important to remove any weeds from the playing surface, as they can affect ball bounce and performance of the court. Weeds can be removed mechanically by hand, or controlled by application of chemicals, usually a broadleaf selective weed killer. Best results are achieved when the soil has warmed up and the grass is actively growing.

Artificial Tennis Courts

Artificial grass systems Weekly Keep surface clean with regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations on sand levels and pile heights.
American Fast Dry courts Before/after games fast-dry-courts-DSC_0052.jpg
Clay courtsapril-diary-tennisEuroclayc.jpg Weekly Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Top dress any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.
Tarmacadam Weekly Keep surfaces clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.