Tennis Tournament Experiments with Tarps

Rain caused a delay in play at the Citi Open in Washington. The playing surface is a hardcourt and tournament groundskeepers used a different strategy than normal to keep it dry. Normally hardcourts are dried using blowers, towels, and rollers when a hardcourt surface gets wet. For the Citi Open, they used a tarp to block water from affecting the playing surface.

Normally, tarps are only used to cover tennis courts that are made from clay or grass. It was a sponsor’s idea to use the unconventional method on the hardcourt in Washington. The chief executive of American Summits, Philip Lajaunie, convinced the tournament organizers to use a tarp to cover the tennis court. tarps cover tennis courtLajaunie said he was always astonished by how long rain delays could be for a tennis match. When a lot of rain comes down, it could take up to an hour to dry the court and get players back into their match.

The director of operations for the tournament cleared Lajaunie’s idea and they tried it out. Much like when a baseball team covers the diamond with a tarp, groundskeepers rolled out a large white tarp over the tennis court. The groundskeepers did a few dry runs to see how long it would take to set up the tarps and roll them up. When rain hit the tournament they covered the court with the tarps and it worked great.

The reason more hardcourts don’t use tarps is because many are built with a one percent slope. This causes the water to drain naturally and prevent puddles, negating the need for tarps. When the tarps were used at the Citi Open, drying time was shortened by up to 40 percent. While the court was bone dry when the tarps were taken off, everything else around it was wet. They plan on trying the tarps on the hardcourt surface again, but after they do some more experimenting with the process.

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