Formed 1889, the Calgary Tennis Club (CTC) is now (2018) 128 years old. Has been on our Sunalta site since 1913 or 105 years.
Courts 123 since:
- 1913 crushed brick "clay" (57 years +/-), until
- 1970 +/- asphalt with Plexipave or similar (20 years +/-), until
- 1991 Har-Tru "clay" watered from below (Hydrocourt) (19 years), until
- 2010 Har-Tru ClayTech system to the present (2018 is it's 9th year)
Barb and Glen Scott on May 16th, 2010
The ClayTech system is a Har-Tru product:
- Har-Tru "clay" is spread on and into the ClayTech carpet plus an additional depth to provide carpet coverage of 1mm to 2mm.
- ClayTech's 3/8" thick polypropylene random loop carpet is glued down to
- black Plexipave acrylic paint applied to an
- asphalt pavement slab
Quality of play, and durability require moisture in the clay at all times. See "Watering" questions for more information.
Har-Tru is a manufacturer of tennis court surfaces and supplies.
- Har-Tru "clay" is the most popular "clay" tennis surface in North America
- Har-Tru, not geologically clay, is meta basalt green stone from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The particles are extremely hard and angular
- Har-Tru's HydroBlend is used because it is formulated for moisture retention.
- HyroBlend is crushed and screened to provide very specific ranges and proportions of particle sizes all the way down to powder. It also includes a small percentage of gypsum and crystalline silica.
The irrigation (watering) system includes:
- 16 pop-up rotors (sprinklers) total: arranged with
- 4 rotors, along each of
- 4 water lines (pipes) under the asphalt, at the sides or between each court
- Each of the 4 water lines is supplied by an electric water valve
- a 3/4" water line from Club supplies these 4 electric water valves
- a programmable irrigation controller, controls the 4 electric valves
- one night time watering at 4:00 AM
- three day time waterings at 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, and 4:00 PM
- 7 days a week
Watering run-times are reset, to the minute, for each day's weather forecast.
(also see the "Watering" section)
YES! You can always play on the clay.
You can even play in the rain or under the sprinklers.
When it's overly wet, be prepared for the ball to get heavier and for your top spin to grow a rooster tail.
It's best if we don't play when the clay is bone dry, but that's not reasonable, so yes, you are allowed play on it dry. Playing on bone dry clay wears the carpet prematurely and gives slightly slipperier (riskier) footing.
If someone is hose watering, either take another court, or ask if they mind if you play.
ClayTech, properly moist, plays slower than our Plexipave on asphalt (hard courts), but faster than classic, full depth, Har-Tru courts like the Elbow Park Tennis Club.
Compared to hard courts, the ball bounces at a higher angle, but not a higher height, off clay, and is slowed more. Typically players have a better chance to get to the ball, rallies last longer and power servers don't dominate quite as much.
Longer rallies, the potential for sliding into shots, less traction to change direction can make matches longer and more energy consuming. On the other hand greater resilience and less abrupt stopping is much easier on muscles and joints. Reports say there are fewer injuries on properly maintained clay courts.
Bone dry ClayTech courts can be slippery. Many players find dry courts more difficult to play on. Playing on bone dry courts accelerates carpet wear.
1. Moist clay provides consistent traction and play, while dry clay is relatively slippery.
2. Dry areas next to moist areas result in inconsistent traction and play.
3. Bone dry clay hardens so that play breaks off carpet fibers, accelerating carpet wear.
4. Moist clay is pliable and responsively accommodates the bending carpet fibers, reducing wear.
5. Even a small amount of moisture reduces the abrasive effects of sharp, hard Har-Tru particles on the carpet. Just like a modest lubricant, moisture reduces carpet wear.
Currently we have 3 equal run-time waterings, 2.5 hours apart over a 5 hour period in the daytime.
How about 2 equal waterings spaced 4 to 5 hours apart? The clay and carpet would have to hold 60% to 100% more water. This is far beyond the clay and carpet's water holding capacity. The current 2.5 hour spacing already tests our player's tolerance for puddles. As little as a 15% increase in watering run-times, would produce lakes!
Going the other way, to 4 waterings over 6 hours at 2 hour intervals would be great for the courts (less less puddling). But for the players, one more watering cycle interruption would be intolerable.
Moist clay has evaporative cooling. Under the summer sun, bone dry clay, carpet and asphalt, build up heat faster than moist areas.
The programmed irrigation system attempts to provide a basic overall average wetting. Due to design limitations of the irrigation system, some areas always get more than average water, while other areas always get less than average water.
Bone dry areas require extra water to cool them down to the average temperature, then even more water to makeup for their water deficit and even more water again to proactively get ahead of the irrigation system's inherent distribution deficiencies.
Programed irrigation run-times are designed to limit puddling as much as possible. Even the smallest increase in run-times would result in unacceptable puddling.
Hosing is the only way to correct individual dry areas.
The Irrigation Controller is programmed with 4 start times per day. Run-times are adjusted daily in response to the day's drying rate. The system operates 7 days a week.
There are 4 fixed start-times: 4:00 AM, 11:OO AM, 1:30 PM & 4:00 PM
At each start-time, the 4 rotors on the far line (line 1) run for it's programmed run-time. When line 1 finishes, line 2 (between courts 2&3) starts automatically, and so on until line 4 (on the near side of court 1).
The objective is to avoid dry areas & minimize puddles. Players can quickly deal with puddles using the 4 Rol-Dri's. Players are less likely to take the time and complications of hosing. It's simpler to tolerate a few small puddles, than to accept any dry areas.
Controller operation is by staff only.
The objective is to manage moisture content between, just less than puddling, and just more than bone dry. The ClayTech system is very thin, retains little water, and has very little tolerance for error.
A spread sheet provides specific run-times for temperatures ranging from 9°C to 35°C, and is recalculated monthly to account for seasonal changes.
Setting a program for temperatures off actual by as little as 3°C +/- results in puddles or dry areas.
Start times delayed by as little as 15 minutes result in increases in both dry areas and puddles.
Missing one start results in the entire surface going bone dry by day's end.
A "Custom Watering Guide" provides instructions for getting back on track after rain or other unforeseen circumstances.
(see above) "Why dry areas and why hosing?"
1. To even out the clay coverage over the carpet, to protect the carpet from wear.
2. To even out the clay for more consistent and enjoyable play.
3. So watering or rain can lock-in a smooth condition.
4. For our fellow players, and so the courts look good when not in use.
(If rain or watering starts, please try to do at least a minimal sweep)
Your choice. Pulling one handed is easy. Holding the centre of the cross bar.
Where foot marks are particularly deep, raise the handle a bit, so the bristles dig in deeper, and walk slower so the bristles have a chance to flick the clay a bit, rather than just drag.
Don't push the broom.
Absolute minimum sweep includes all foot and ball marks, particularly outside the baseline. This minimum amount is OK if sprinklers or rain have just started.
The preferred sweep includes the entire court; from carpet edge to half way to your neighbour, from the tennis net to the back fence.
Give particular attention to the heavy traffic areas around and behind the base line.
Line sweeping is recommended after you've swept the court. Those playing after you will really appreciate it.
No, it's your choice. Most like to sweep east & west, some like sweeping north and south. You could go diagonally or even in a circle. Your choice.
(each sweeping causes some additional drying.)
We sweep after every use because:
1. It delays sweep drying, which saves a modest amount of water.
2. It delays the formation of dry areas.
3. It increases the chance that watering or rain will fall on swept clay, locking in a smooth, tidy, condition. When watering or rain falls on rough, messy, and uneven clay, the water locks in that messy condition. Yes, it's really appreciated when you do at least a minimal sweep when sprinklers or rain starts.
4. It leaves the courts looking smooth and tidy when they're not in use.
5. It's common courtesy throughout the tennis world, to leave it tidy for those coming after.
Brooms, line sweeps and Rol-Dries, hang them all on the angled fences facing court 2. This makes them easy to find and easy to access from all courts.
Once you find the right tilt angle for the handle, you can move at any speed.
Did it just rain or was there a recent watering?
We have 4 Rol-Dri's for you and your fellow players to use to lift excess water off the courts.
(See "How do I use the Rol-Dri")
Yes, tell staff if:
- If a rotor (sprinkler) gets stuck in one position.
- If a rotor is aiming off court, or
- If the largest dimension of a puddle is more than 8'.
The irrigation system is programmed with an intentional bias towards wetter. There's only 2 or 3 minute latitude between a watering run-times that result in puddles vs dry areas. Dryness shortens carpet life and can be slipperier (riskier). We appreciate your patience, puddles are to be expected.
We have 4 Rol-Dri's for you and your fellow players to use to lift excess water off the courts.(See "How do I use the Rol-Dri")
DON'T TRY TO PUSH PUDDLES OFF THE COURT.
- Pushed puddles just flow around the roller back into the same puddle
- Pushing with weight or speed scours clay out of the carpet ... UGLY, BAD
- Pushing with weight, bends the handle and cross frame, presses frame screws into the foam, and tears the foam off the roller.
Under it's own weight, with no downward weight, at half walking speed (or less), let the roller make 1 or 2 revolutions in the puddle (don't make a bow wave). By now the roller will be full (2 to 3 liters). Lift and carry the full Rol-Dri to a dry area (usually near the carpet edge).
Roll the excess water out of the foam onto dry carpet near the fence. You can gradually increase weight to help squeeze out the water.
Repeat until the puddle is gone.
Don't expect too much. You can eliminate the "shine" of puddles and the "sheen" of overly wet areas, but "dark-matte" is as good as you'll get with the Rol-Dri.