Think of the best Tennis court in the country and most of us straight away think of the centre court at Wimbledon. One family who might not are the Slaters, from a small village near Hull. The fact that their bungalow, hidden at the end of a cul-de-sac in this quiet village on the side of the Humber estuary, is called the Court will give you a clue as to where they think the best court is.
So it was with great interest that I walked down the garden with the owner, having been asked to quote for a renovation on his court .After hearing all about it, and how much it meant to them I was eager to see for myself the garden and court that regularly feature in various garden publications. I had already been warned that access was restricted but was not prepared for just how restricted. Nestling behind a wall half way down there garden was the court, the archway through the wall barely wide enough to walk through.
One side of the court was a wisteria covered archway, or tunnel , the other bordered by a narrow path and beds of mature shrubs - no access points here !
Well first things first ! an inspection of the surface, an aging en-tout-cas savannah carpet showed it to be completely full of organic debris. The owner for years had been regularly moss spraying it and brushing it. all the dead moss and organic material from the surrounding trees had broken down to form a black sludge in the carpet ! Apart from one or two minor seam tears the court looked in good condition, other than the amount of dirt in it, which seemed to go right down to the base of the the pile.
Tthere was little wear even in the foot holes behind the base line, so it was a good candidate for full restoration.
So, here we have it from the owners' point of view the best court in the country. From mine one of the worst ! The solution a full renovation, which meant removing one corner of the fence around the court. The owner was going to move plants out of the way and take down the boundary fence, so we could gain access with the use of a couple of sets of ramps from a neighbours drive. A date was arranged to undertake the work.
On the due day our team arrived on site early. First job- open the fence ,second job- sheet the ends up to keep any debris contained within the court and away from the precious garden ! Access was just wide enough to allow the Avant mini loader and attachments onto the court.
This is the mainstay of our renovation process. Firstly the top layer of sand is brushed out of the carpet and then with the washing attachment fitted, the court is worked from one side to the other a few inches at a time, brushing the debris and dirty sand away immediately that it is flushed to the surface.
By lunchtime the first 4 metre skip is full, the new sand has arrived and another skip is on its way. Some of the owners tennis buddies are lending a hand, armed with shovels and wheel barrows, trundling back and forth through the hole in the fence.
By early evening we've been right across the court, the skips have gone. The new sand is ready to go into the carpet once the fence and surroundings have been washed down and the whole court has been sprayed to kill any exposed moss and algae spores.
By early afternoon the following day, the broken seams have been repaired and a small patch has been put into the carpet. The new sand has been applied, worked and brushed into the surface and the court is once again fit to play on. All that remains is one follow up visit to adjust sand levels to optimum once the infill has settled.
On reflection , looking at the court now it's back to its former glory, maybe it is the best court in the country, certainly the setting is perfection! But how do we get the machinery in for annual maintenance to keep it in this condition ?