Tennis Clubs: How to Survive Winter

©Derek Gavey

6 April 2018 openplay Leave a comment Operations

There is a reason that Wimbledon occurs during summer and the Australian Open headlines our January. The cold and the wet drive people away and a club must hope that they return for the spring season. Despite the lower footfall, court surfaces suffer more in winter than summer, due to festering rain, mud, and ice. Here are some tips to help you survive the cold…

Maintain your courts

With unpredictable weather but guaranteed damp, it is important to clean the courts at least once a month. Remove debris and dirt to avoid the surface becoming rough and damaged. Puddles can cause severe damage in freezing temperatures, as the water expands to ice, causing holes. Artificial grass courts are not that common anymore but they are ideal for winter, as they promote drainage. Hard asphalt courts are troopers in cold climates, although they do have a longer drying time than Har-Tru or Clay Tech.

A bubble/ dome roof

More and more tennis clubs are erecting poly air domes over their courts for the winter months. The dome can be assembled and disassembled within a few hours. It is created by blowing air under a particular material that is fixed around the court. This is done by a fan unit which may double as a heating supplier. Bubbles require investment, costing around £55,000 for a single court. The materials are yours to keep, lasting six to eight years, and can be stored during the summer months. Replacement parts are significantly cheaper than the initial payout.

Indoor Courts

There needs to be greater investment in indoor facilities if we want to make winter training truly practical and financially beneficial. This may seem implausible, given that Wimbledon’s Centre Court only received a roof in 2009 and cost over £80 million. With an aim of doubling the number of indoor tennis courts over the next decade, The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) may be able to help. The LTA is spending £250 million on grassroots projects. For traditional indoor projects, an applicant needs to have 50% of the project cost. The funding is allocated on a 50:50 loan to grant ratio. The LTA also offering ongoing support once a project is completed. Preference is given to projects that deliver much needed facilities to a local community.

Morning training

Many people put off training until the evening, only to abandon the idea when the weather takes a turn. Capitalise on the crisp, morning air- advertise sessions as “Wake-me-ups”. Being cold is less depressing if you know that you can have a hot shower afterwards and will feel ready to carpe diem. Send reminders the night before each class asking people to commit to training so you are sure enough people will attend.


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A dark court is an unplayable court. With night falling as early as 4pm in December, after school training and evening sessions are sacrificed if your courts are not lit. Floodlights are expensive to run, so many clubs operate them via a token system. Players buy tokens and insert them into the light slots, activating the lights for an hour.

Get people signed up to classes and leagues

Pay as you go leads to no-shows in winter. One look outside to the cold, damp air and people will roll over in their beds. Try reducing the price of your term offer and hook people in for the long haul.

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