May Tennis Diary
By Laurence Gale
The start of the tennis season is now upon us with many clubs carrying out their final preparations for the new season, with particular attention being paid to rolling the courts, building up consolidation ready for play utilising a one ton roller. This task has been difficult to achieve this year with many parts of the country having well over 60mm of rain during April, reducing the opportunity to get some decent rolling done. Ground staff will also be trying to maintain the sward height at between 6-9mm 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
|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. Apply a spring fertiliser when conditions allow. Fertilisers can be applied in liquid or granular forms.
In May you would look to be using a 14/2/4,or similar compound fertiliser blend, or, towards the end of May, apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through to June/July. However, the choice of material and how well it works can be dependant on factors such as soil type, weather etc., 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.
|Inspect tennis structures||As required||Continue to check and repair fences, tennis posts, and nets.|
Check and ensure that all irrigation equipment is working and ready for use.
|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 deep 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 areas that suffer from 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.|
|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.|
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 that is 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.
|Performance Quality Standards||Measure as required.||
There are a number of performance quality standards (BS7370:P3, A6 standards) that can be used to measure the condition of your facility These include the measurement of:-
The results are measured against predetermined standards (high, standard and basic levels). These can be seen in the IOG Guidelines for Performance Quality standards (part one, sports surfaces natural/non turf).
|Pest control||As required||Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why are worms 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. operations that affectively 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:
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||Keep surface clean, rolling to consolidate surface, levelling and brushing of fast dry materials, brushing to clean lines.|
|Clay courts||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.|