Red porous tennis courts are the preferred playing surface for most tennis players and comprise of 37 per cent of Victoria’s tennis courts. Approximately 600-900 litres of water is used per court, per day, over the summer months to ensure they are safe and usable for players. Tennis Victoria recognised that the maintenance of these courts is not sustainable particularly given Australia’s ongoing drought.
The challenge was to test water saving technologies that could effectively reduce the amount of water used and help drought-proof tennis. Tennis Victoria also recognised the opportunity to develop best practice guidelines and recommendations, with the aim of encouraging other clubs and councils to consider sustainable systems in construction or re-development of red porous courts.
A Smart Water Fund grant was awarded to Tennis Victoria in Round 4 to assist in the trial of two new technologies unique to the Australian tennis industry.
There were two components to the project:
Undertaken at Dendy Park Tennis Club in Brighton, the technology trial involved the re-construction of four courts built with chemical additives, bentonite and latex. The additives help absorb and retain water in the courts layers to reduce the amount of water required for upkeep.
Two additional courts with an increased percentage of bentonite were constructed in June 2008, with expectations of further water saving.
The second trial at Port Melbourne Tennis Club involves the installation of sub-surface watering systems in three tennis courts. A reservoir built under the base of the court uses a series of pods to draw water from the reservoir to the court’s surface via ‘capillary action’. This technology had been undertaken in the United States, but was modified to meet the needs of Australia’s climate.
Tennis Victoria believes that the trials have the potential to reduce water use on red porous courts by at least 50 per cent.
Tennis Victoria Chief Executive Officer, Ian Clark says water saving technologies could offer water savings between 300-450 litres, per court, per day, which is approximately 300-600 million litres of water per year.
Measurements showed an average water savings of 66 per cent over the autumn months of 2008, with the courts requiring only 75 litres per day compared to an average of 222 litres for the comparison courts. Average water savings of 58 per cent have been achieved since October 2007.
“It was important for us to enure water-saving technologies would not affect the courts playability,” said Ian.
“This project provides us with a great opportunity to ensure that tennis in Australia can provide players with safe courts to play on, without having a detrimental effect on our water supply.”
The results of the trials will be used as a basis for guidelines that will be promoted to other tennis clubs in Victoria and nationally.