For any tennis club, the main challenge is to attract members and retain them year after year, often by making regular investments in improved facilities.
This is why when the playing characteristics of nearly half of its outdoor tennis courts changed for the worse after just eight years after installation, Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club was forced into taking swift action. With 500 of Wolverhampton Tennis Club’s 1200 members regularly using the courts, Marc Hughes, the facilities manager at WLTSC, was the man tasked with finding a replacement that would provide the club with the best possible surface for play and development.
He explains: “The fibres in the previous surface had flattened and become slippery, making the courts virtually unplayable for many parts of the year. I think if we hadn’t have done anything, a lot of members may have left.” The club held a short tender process, visiting partner clubs, Edgbaston Priory and Halton Tennis Centre. With the latter having recently installed TigerTurf’s Advantage Pro surface for its tennis courts, staff at the club passed on their recommendations to Marc and his team.
“Playability was the driving factor, so being able to test and experience the quality of the courts at Halton was key,” Marc continues. “We also like to source locally when we can, so having the manufacturer around the corner, from wolverhampton tennis club, in Worcestershire was a bonus.” Platt Construction, a Chester-based tennis court construction specialist, was chosen to deliver the project. Removing the old synthetic carpet before repairing the existing porous macadam base, the staff at Platt Construction then laid TigerTurf’s ITF accredited Advantage Pro on a block of three courts in August, and then a further two courts in September.
Wolverhampton Tennis Club took advantage of the various colour options available from TigerTurf, opting for a bright blue playing surface and green surround. The result is five striking courts that have made a positive impression with members and improved ball visibility overall. As well as being TigerTurf’s most advanced and durable tennis surface to date, Advantage Pro’s solid structure offers a high level of performance that has certainly lived up to its billing.
Marc comments: “I’ve played on many, many courts and I’d say that Advantage Pro is definitely the best artificial turf I’ve played on. It plays like a real grass ennis court, in terms of how it takes spin and speed – it has all the benefits of playing on grass without the hassle of cutting it or painting the lines.
According to Marc, it is these advanced playing characteristics that will help the Wolverhampton Tennis Club’s players develop, no matter what their level of ability. “The courts are really receptive; if someone hits the ball hard, it’ll go well, but you can have long rallies on it, which is crucial to player development and competition.” As a result, the facilities have been much more widely used since their completion nearly 12 months ago – giving a better return on the club’s investment and a reason for its members to return to the club.
Marc summarises: “Normally if it had rained all day the courts wouldn’t be playable afterwards. Now, if there’s a deluge, courts are playable within half an hour. I would guess that we have increased our play on the resurfaced courts by about 50%.