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SELECTED ISSUE
Sports Management
2012 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Tennis Court ITF Recognition

Tennis

Tennis Court ITF Recognition


Jamie Capel-Davies outlines the process and benefits relating to the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) independent assessment of quality tennis courts

Marin Cilic of Croatia in the Quarter Final during the 2010 Australian Open tennis tournament
A laser level is used to establish the slope and planarity of the court, during the testing of a court against ITF standards
Court pace is deemed slow or fast depending on the surface smoothness
An evenness test measures the size of bumps or dips in the tennis court surface, using a straight line edge
An evenness test measures the size of bumps or dips in the tennis court surface, using a straight line edge
The position of the court markings and net are checked to ensure that they are within tolerance

With an estimated *US$30bn (£19.6bn) having been invested in tennis court construction worldwide, it is understandable that investors and players are keen to know the quality of construction and, increasingly, how fast or slow a court plays.

In response to this need, the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) science and technical department has established ITF Recognition to provide end-users with an independent assessment of the quality of their court, and offers contractors an opportunity to demonstrate the calibre of their products and installation skills.

WHAT IS ITF RECOGNITION?
ITF Recognition is a test-based programme. To receive One-Star Recognition, the court’s key installation properties must meet ITF recommendations.

Testing begins with a visual inspection to identify any cracks or gaps in the surface and ensure a uniform appearance. Next, an evenness test measures the size of any bumps or dips in the surface with the use of a straight edge, and the slope and planarity of the court are established with a laser level. Finally, the position of the court markings and net are checked to ensure they are within tolerance.

Two-Star Recognition requires the court pace rating (CPR) to be compared with the ITF-classified value for the surface product, in addition to the One-Star tests described above.

The pace is quantified by firing a ball at the court and recording its speed before and after the bounce. Rougher surfaces, which generate more friction between the ball and the court, reduce the speed of the ball parallel to the ground making a court ‘slower’. Surfaces that have a higher bounce also appear slower because players have more time to reach the ball.

There are currently more than 200 surface products classified by the ITF. Surfaces are classified into one of five categories: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast and fast, and listed on the ITF website: www.itftennis.com/technical/equipment/courts/courtlist.asp

WHO CAN APPLY FOR ITF RECOGNITION?
ITF Recognition is targeted at venues where the standard of play is high and the quality of the court is therefore most important. These include the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas venues as well as national tennis centres. To date, One-Star ITF Recognition has been issued to the centre court at the La Caja Magica (Magic Box) stadium in Madrid (home of the Madrid Masters tennis tournament) and two indoor courts at the UK’s Lawn Tennis Association’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

Two-Star ITF Recognition has been awarded to all nine match courts installed by Spade Oak at the Eton Manor site in the Olympic Park, and four courts at the Tennis Park club in Moscow, installed by Concept 90.

An application for ITF Recognition can be submitted by any party associated with the tennis facility, for example the owner, the organiser of a tournament held at that facility, or the supplier or installer of the court.

One-Star tests are carried out by an ITF-approved test organisation, such as a surveying company, or an ITF-accredited laboratory. Two-Star tests are conducted by an ITF-accredited laboratory, which are listed on the ITF website: www.itftennis.com/technical/research/recognition/labs.asp

The ITF charges a US$500 (£391) administration fee to add a facility (any number of courts at the same location) that meets the relevant specifications to the official ITF Recognition list. The cost of testing is determined by the laboratory and is available on application.

FACILITIES GUIDE AND DIRECTORY
The ITF has established a working group of facilities experts from major tennis-playing nations to design and develop an international Facilities Guide, which represents ‘best practice’ from around the world. It’s a simple reference for those wanting to build a tennis court and offers information about layout design and choosing and maintaining surfaces: www.itftennis.com/technical/facilities

The Suppliers’ Directory allows users to search for tennis facility products and services and identify ITF-Recognised suppliers: http://tds.itftennis.com

For more information, please email technical@itftennis.com or visit the ITF website: www.itftennis.com

* US$30bn (£18.9bn) is a ballpark figure produced from an estimate of 750,000 courts worldwide at an average cost of US$40,000 (£25,000) per court. The number of courts is based on a survey of the ITF member nations in 2004/2005.

Jamie Capel-Davies is science and technical manager at the ITF

HOW TO GET ITF RECOGNITION

1. Submit an application for One- or Two-Star Recognition* to the ITF and pay the administration fee.
2. Select an ITF-accredited laboratory/ITF-approved surveyor and arrange a test date and test fee payment.
3. Have the court(s) tested and the report(s) sent to the ITF.
4. Receive an ITF Recognition certificate from the ITF and website listing for the court(s)**.

* Two-Star Recognition cannot be awarded without comparison against an ITF-classified surface product. If the surface product is not classified, the product supplier can apply for classification using the results of the CPR test on-site.

** Subject to meeting the relevant specifications.

CASE STUDY

Tennis Park, Moscow

Four double, indoor courts at the Tennis Park in Moscow, Russia, installed by Concept 90, have been awarded Two-Star ITF Recognition.

Concept 90 is an active member of the International Tennis foundation (ITF) and the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF). Investing into continuous tennis surface research and development, the company has developed court surfaces that offer players a good standard of play with a minimum chance of injury.

These indoor and outdoor surfaces are suitable for tournament, training and recreational use and include acrylic RuKort, PVC RuKort, artificial turf RuKortGrass and red artificial turf RuKortXClay, which is an imitation of clay court and RuKortTenisit.

The surface installed at the Tennis Park in Moscow is RukortTour, a hard, acrylic surface on 55mm rubber matting. It is ITF certified and used for tennis tournaments across Russia, Croatia and Kazakhstan.

The company designed, built and installed a 138m x 37.5m air hall encompassing 10 courts (four double and six single). The air structure took 25 days to build and the tennis surfacing 15 days. Part of this process involved adjusting the dimensions and marking some of the standard-sized courts to allow for children’s competitions within the facility, in accordance with ITF Tennis 10s rules.

Upon completion, the four double court surfaces received ITF Two-Star Recognition after a testing process that took two days. This process involved a team of ITF technicians who visually checked that the court surfaces were uniform, free of gaps and cracks and that there was no deviation of evenness, slope and planarity. Tests were also conducted at key spots across the courts and ball pace was measured.

The Tennis Park markets these courts for use by children, young adults and disabled players. As well as hosting tennis coaching sessions and fun activities, the facility operator also organises regular tennis tournaments for young players. These include the All Russia Tennis Tournament, which involves 120 players aged between nine and 12 years old and a monthly Tennis 10s tournament for six- to seven-year-olds. An Amateur tennis tournament and the Russia Cup is also hosted at the facility.

Using its links with the Russian Tennis Federation, the Tennis Park is currently planning a children’s tennis camp at Tennis Centre Makarska in Croatia.

 



The Tennis Park offers children’s tennis lessons and tournaments.
 


The court testing process took a team of ITF technicians two days to complete
 

Originally published in Sports Management 2012 issue 1

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