News from the American Sports Builders Association                                                        January 2015

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ITF Modifies Tennis Court Surface Classifications

1. ITF Court Pace Classification Programme – Surface Type Definitions

Following concerns raised by the industry that the current ITF categorisation and definition of ‘artificial’ surfaces are no longer appropriate, during 2014 the ITF conducted a review of these descriptions with all relevant stakeholders through two rounds of consultation. The results were reviewed by the ITF Technical Commission, who determined that a new category of ‘Hybrid clay’ should be introduced, to acknowledge the difference in properties between clay- and sand/rubber dressed ‘Artificial clay’ surfaces. They stated that the purpose of the surface definition descriptions is to inform end-users about the product they intend to purchase, therefore they agreed it was appropriate to differentiate traditional clay from clay-dressed products mounted on synthetic matrices. ‘Polyurethane’ (PU) was added to the ‘Acrylic’ category in recognition of the (increased) use of liquid-applied PU-based products [and their similarity to Acrylics].

A revised surface types and definitions table (see Table 1 below) has been included in the 2015 edition of the ITF Approved Tennis Balls, Classified Surfaces and Recognised Courts booklet (attached), whilst the categories have been amended on the ITF Technical website listing of ITF Classified surfaces.


All surfaces may be porous or non-porous, with the exception of ‘Clay’ and ‘Grass’, which are always porous.

1 Normally forms only the uppermost few millimetres of a court.

2 “Appearance” relates only to the form of the uppermost surface material and not other characteristics (e.g. colour). These surfaces are typically composed of a carpet matrix dressed/filled with sand and/or rubber aggregate.

3 Used only when the material itself forms the playing surface. When used as a base for other surfaces (e.g. acrylic), reference will be made only to the playing surface.

4 This term denotes a type of surface that is constructed from naturally-derived materials, and includes an unbound fine gritty material as the uppermost (playing) layer, e.g. fast-dry. The integrity of the surface shall not be reliant on the addition of a carpet or membrane layer to the structure.

2. ‘Blended’ Lines

The recent change to the Rules of Tennis that permits the use of ‘Red’ and ‘Orange’ courts for 10 and under competition has resulted in full size courts having additional painted lines to create those smaller courts. Following a two-year research study by the USTA, the ITF has adopted their recommendations for ‘blended’ lines, to ensure that the pace of such lines is not significantly different to the non-lined ‘background’ areas, and that the lines are distinguishable from the standard lines without being distracting. These recommendations are:

  1. Blended playing lines should be within the same colour family as the ‘background’ playing surface.

  2. Blended lines should be lighter than the background playing surface.

  3. The limit on colour variation should be +22 points on the L* CIELAB scale, which can be achieved by adding no more than 25% by volume of white paint to the background colour.

  4. The pace of the lines should be within 5 CPR points of the playing surface.

  5. Blended lines should be 1.0-1.5 cm narrower than the standard lines.

  6. Blended lines should terminate 8 cm from any intersection with the white playing lines of the full size court.

3. ITF Court Pace Classification Programme Fees

Following a review of our classification fees, the following charges will apply with effect from January 2015. Additional reductions in fees have been introduced that will benefit those suppliers, primarily ITF Foundation members, who submit a larger quantity of products for evaluation. The new charges are shown in Table 2 below.

4. EU norms for indoor courts

The ITF attended the meeting of the CEN Technical Committee 217 to discuss the prEN 14904:2014 draft standard Surfaces for sports areas – Indoor surfaces for multi-sports use – Specification. The ITF has recently been accepted as a Liaison Organisation to the Committee, which has observer status but no voting power.

The Scope of the standard was redrafted in the meeting to state the following:

“This European Standard specifies requirements for multi-sports floor systems designed for use in indoor sport halls and gymnasia. This standard also applies to single sport facilities designed for the following sports: volleyball, basketball, badminton, small sided football, handball. Note: physical education in considered as a multisport [sic] use. It provides for the assessment and verification of consistency of performance of sports floor systems whether prefabricated or constructed in situ or a combination of the two. This European Standard does not apply to synthetic turf or textile surfaces used indoors.”

Therefore, sports halls designed for tennis would be excluded from the standard. In addition, a work item has been launched to develop a new standard specifically for tennis: Sport performances of sport areas designed for indoor tennis use. We will update you with further news on these items in due course.

© 2015 American Sports Builders Association 

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