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An Evolution of Tennis Court Surfaces

Much like the materials used to make tennis rackets have changed over the years from wood to graphite, titanium, and other lightweight materials, so has the playing surface of the court itself. Originally, grass and clay were the predominant court materials, but for the majority of recreational courts found in parks and sports complexes, asphalt (and to a lesser extent, concrete) often with an acrylic coating, is the go-to surface for durability and long life.

The landscape team at Snyder & Associates has been designing stand-alone tennis facilities (and as a piece of a park master plan) for many years. Even as the popularity of other outdoor recreational opportunities has grown, tennis courts remain as one of the top draws in many parks, sports complexes, and school districts. And because the surfaces for tennis and its companion sport, pickleball, are similar, communities are increasingly requesting tennis courts with dual markings and adjustable nets to render the courts multi-use.

Durable & Professional Results with Seasoned Sports Field Designers

Outdoor tennis courts are typically constructed on asphalt surfaces with several surface coatings to choose from. Engaging an experienced sports field design team, however, is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when considering adding or upgrading an existing tennis court facility.

Achieving a professional result is so much more than simply creating a flat slab and adding nets. At a minimum, courts need to have the proper slope and adequate drainage for proper use. If these two critical components aren’t designed correctly, courts can be too steep, or worse, develop standing water after inclement weather. Either of these issues will degrade the user experience.

Choosing the best surface coating for your unique situation is another decision that a professional sports field design team can help make. Numerous coatings are available depending on the variables of your court’s location. Most surface coatings are acrylic-based and designed especially for coating asphalt. For outdoor courts, coatings are textured with a smooth and rounded, non-aggressive silica sand. This provides a slip-free surface in wet and dry conditions. Options also exist to regulate the amount of cushion in the surface coating to help reduce player fatigue.

Project Sampling of Snyder & Associates-Designed Courts & Sports Complexes

Doanes Park

view of tennis court area from afar

Doanes Park Complex

In 2013, Snyder & Associates was approached by leaders from the Pleasant Hill Parks & Recreation Department to design several new amenities for Doanes Park, including a new multi-use tennis and pickleball facility. This project called for three regulation tennis courts with markings for pickleball and tennis on each court. The design included all grading work, an asphalt surface and all-weather coating, fences, and dual-purpose nets.

These expansive park improvements added to a robust offering of ball fields, playground areas, and soccer fields that were designed by our landscape architects, as well, and provide first-rate recreational opportunities for the surrounding neighborhoods. Through various public meetings and working with Pleasant Hill city staff and other stakeholder groups, our designers were able to understand the priorities and budgets of the various groups to accomplish numerous improvements over the past three years.

Haines Park & Village Park

people playing tennis on a sunny day

The two new courts in this Altoona park are marked for tennis and pickleball use.

A similar project in Altoona saw the removal and replacement of two tennis courts in Village Park and two courts in Haines Park. Dual markings for tennis and pickleball were added to the courts in both parks, as well. The Altoona Parks & Recreation Department commissioned our team to design and oversee this project which included four regulation tennis courts, a new asphalt surface and all-weather coating, nets, and 10’ tall black vinyl coated fencing. Site adjustments were necessary to accommodate the regulation size courts.

At one location, buried foundations discovered during construction posed a unique challenge to the plan. Our design team immediately stepped in to create a fair solution between the contractor and the city to keep this project moving forward.

North Polk Community School District

When the North Polk Community School District’s new high school opened in 2013, a tennis court facility was not allowed for in the building funds. Unfortunately, this prevented the district from being able to host home tennis meets for their student-athletes. When the funds became available, the school district turned to Snyder & Associates to design an athletic facility that not only provided first-class amenities but also included ample and comfortable accommodations for spectators.

This project included the construction and installation of six brand new, regulation tennis courts, complete with concrete walkways and expansive bleacher pads. The courts are an asphalt surface with an all-weather coating and included posts, nets, fencing, and perimeter gating. Stormwater detention was also created and additional electrical service and site restoration were completed after the courts were constructed.

Mercer Park

dozens of people mid-game on pickle ball courts

Dedicated tennis and pickleball courts are the highlights of Iowa City’s Mercer Park.

The Iowa City Parks & Recreation Department went in a different direction for their project in Mercer Park. An existing six tennis court complex was converted to retain three full-size tennis courts and add eight pickleball courts. Snyder & Associates professionals evaluated the current athletic courts for resurfacing and expansion needs. Our sports field design team then developed a plan that included new asphalt, partial fencing, posts, nets, resurfacing, and striping.

The demand in the Iowa City area for amenities like this had been strong for many years and mimics a nationwide popularity trend for the sport of tennis. Whether you’re community or organization is looking to convert existing tennis courts, or design a new sports facility from scratch, Snyder & Associates has years of experience designing tennis and pickleball facilities that meet our client’s customized needs.