As host to one of professional tennis' four Grand Slam tournaments and home to the All England Tennis Club, Wimbledon is possibly the world's most prestigious tennis facility. Adding to Wimbledon's prestige are the facility's signature grass tennis courts. Grass courts create an exciting brand of tennis, providing a faster surface to play on because the ball skids off the grass, keeping bounces low. A grass surface is also easier on the body, with less jarring of the ankles, knees and spine compared to courts with hard asphalt or concrete surfaces. If you have the space and are devoted to the maintenance program a grass tennis court demands, you can build one.
Clear an area for the tennis court and make sure you have adequate space. Tennis court dimensions are 78 feet by 36 feet, but you will need at least 110 feet by 55 feet to give players room to run and retrieve balls. Regulation courts require at least 120 feet by 60 feet. Once you have the space staked out, use a tractor to remove debris and tree roots from the area. You also must clear away at least three inches of top soil to remove existing grass and plants.
Level the area and pack the soil with the tractor or a steam roller.
Dig a hole and install the net posts in the centre of the planned court, 42 feet apart. Use quickset cement to secure the net posts in place. Smooth the surface out.
Add a rich soil layer to the top surface, levelling the court and covering the net post cement.
Spread rye grass seed over the surface. This is best done in the late winter and early spring to ensure a quality playing surface for the summer months. Rye grass is a durable grass used for the courts at Wimbledon.
Water the grass daily. Allow the grass to grow to 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in length.
Fertilise the grass in the spring with a fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphate and potash.
Mow the grass frequently, reducing the height no more than 1/8 inch at a any one mowing. The grass should be 1/2 inch high for general play, but is often as short as 1/5 inch for high-level competition.
Prepare the court for playing by measuring and painting the court lines. Use chalk paint and a line painting device to keep the lines straight and even. The court is 78 feet long and 36 feet wide. The service boxes extend from the centre of the court 21 feet and are 13 1/2 feet wide. The singles line extends 4 1/2 feet in from the outside sideline, creating an alley on each side of the court for doubles play.
Install the net on the net posts. Make sure the centre is 36 inches high with the net 39 inches high at the posts.
Playing too much on a grass court creates dirt paths where the grass has been killed from shoes sliding on the surface. Even the most well-cared for courts need a break from play every year to replenish the surface.
Tips and warnings
- Playing too much on a grass court creates dirt paths where the grass has been killed from shoes sliding on the surface. Even the most well-cared for courts need a break from play every year to replenish the surface.