Breaking Ground: Tournament Builds New Courts

June 14, 2012 05:55 PM
Workers cover stands on Stadium Court.
Stadium Court is readies under the shadow of the BB&T Atlanta Open.
By Blake Shessel, BB&T Atlanta Open intern
In July, people traveling south on Atlanta’s I-75/85 will behold a new sight above 17th Street. Below the tall buildings of Atlantic Station, commuters will catch a glimpse of the grandstands of the BB&T Atlanta Open’s Stadium and Grandstand Courts. The tournament is building new competition courts in Atlantic Station’s northeast corner.
The construction of a professional tennis court is not as simple as it seems. The lengthy process over two months involves multiple stages to produce a smooth and playable surface. Here is how the BB&T Atlanta Open did it.
The first step in court construction involves staking out the perimeter of the court. In order to meet the requirements of the ATP, a stadium court must be at least 66 feet wide and 132 feet long.
Once the marking flags are in place, a low, concrete containment curb is poured around the court’s boundary. The temporary curb is constructed to help enclose the gravel and asphalt that make up the base layers of a hard court.
Fully surrounded, the court is then covered with a grade aggregated pressure stone. The fancy name is used by builders to refer to a particular grade of gravel. The gravel layer helps to level the foundation of the court and to raise the court for drainage purposes. Using a laser, the gravel layer is evened out to a thickness of 6 inches.
During the following week, a 1-inch layer of asphalt is laid over the gravel base. The versatility and durability of asphalt makes it an optimal surface for a tennis court. Each type of asphalt has a different mix design or a particular recipe of components to maximize its surface properties.
After a two-week curing period, the asphalt is covered with DecoTurf. The thin, rubberized cushioning surface makes the court slightly gentler on the players’ bodies and joints.
At last, the court is painted. The final acrylic coating produces the stunning blue court surrounded by medium green. The surface and colors are the same as those at the US Open. Additionally, all tournaments in the Emirates Airline US Open Series use the same court conditions to help players get ready for America’s Grand Slam that runs Aug 27 to Sept. 9.
The tournament is also erecting four more courts south of 17th Street: Court #3 and three practice courts. All courts use the same surface and color as the two main courts.
In the weeks leading up to the tournament, the containment curb will be removed, the grandstands built and the lights installed, well in time for fans to enjoy our thrilling ATP World Tour event.