January Tennis Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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Happy new year to you all. With all the variable weather we have been having during the festive season it is important to keep an eye out for disease. Diseases have been quite prevalent in recent weeks. It is important to keep surface dew off the grass courts and try to keep the sward dry. Also, depending on the surface conditions, you may be able to sarrel roll to punch some small aeration holes into the courts to aid the draining of surface water.

On your return after the festive holidays you are likely to find you may have accumulated some surface debris (leaves, litter etc.) on the courts. It is important to clear it up.

January is a good time, whilst it is quiet, to plan and get yourself organised. What are your targets for this year? What do you want to achieve? Have you organised your spring renovation works? Have you ordered materials and machinery for the forthcoming season?

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.


January Maintenance Tasks for Tennis

Natural Grass Tennis Courts

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aeration

As required

Aerating the playing surface helps keep grass surfaces free draining. A sarrel roller is often used to prick small holes in the surface down to a depth of 45mm.

Other solid tine aerators can reach greater depths. Spiking between 100-200mm is beneficial to encourage deeper rooting and gaseous exchanges in the soil profile.

However, deep aeration should be avoided after January to prevent the likelihood of the courts cracking later in the year when the soils begin to dry out.

Drainage

Weekly

Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working. Renew or repair any damaged or problematic drainage systems.

Diseases

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Daily/Weekly

Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. The recent mild and wet weather will certainly have provided the ideal climatic conditions for diseases.

Regular brushing or switching off the dew in the mornings will reduce the chance of fungal attack.

Inspect tennis structures

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As required

Label and store away all tennis furniture (posts, nets, seating and notice/score boards). Replace with new equipment if required.

Repair any damaged fencing

Litter/debris

Daily/weekly

Inspect and remove debris from playing surface - litter or any wind blown tree debris, twigs and leaves.

Leaf debris can be a problem during the winter months. It is important to sweep and clear the leaves off the courts as an accumulation of wet leaves will damage the grass surface.

Machinery, repairs & maintenance

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Daily/weekly

Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.

Materials

Inspection

Maintain material stocks and order any other consumables required.

Mowing

As required

The mowing height on the courts should be maintained at a winter height of between 12-18mm.

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 only need mowing on a weekly/fortnightly basis to keep tidy during the winter months.

Pest control

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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. Remove any casts by switching.



Carbendazim is the only approved active ingredient available left to control worms. Comply to all safety data sheets when using this pesticide product.

Soil tests

Ideally once or twice a year, or as required.

Soil sampling is an important part of Groundsmanship. 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.

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.

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Before/after games

Keep surface clean, rolling to consolidate surface, levelling and brushing of fast dry materials, brushing to clean lines.

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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

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Weekly

Keep surfaces clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.

Moss and algae can be a serious problem on tarmac tennis courts, especially if the courts are situated next to trees and hedges, the shading and damp conditions create a favorable environment for moss and algae to grow.

To control moss and algae growth. Can be achieved by a number of methods, regular brushing and cleaning of the courts helps disturb the moss preventing it from taking hold, However, once established, the best methods of control are by a combination of Chemical and washing activities.

Ideally tarmacadam courts should be power washed annually to clean off the moss, slime and grime that has accumulated on the courts.

Chemical control requires spraying the moss when it is growing with a herbicide having an active ingredient of dichlorophen. There are many products available, notably Scotts Enforcer, Rigby Taylor's Mascot and Bayer's Super Mosstox.