Tennis Court Lighting
Creating a lighting system that produces excellent ball visibility for players
luminaires continue to gain popularity for the lighting of tennis courts.
The advantages of using a lighting system such as the Courtsider by LSI
include: precise light control, minimum light spillage, reduced glare to
players, and appealing aesthetics.
While systems like the Courtsider have many benefits, improper application can cause problems; therefore, it is important to employ specific criteria when designing a system. Keep in mind that the primary objective of a tennis lighting system is to light the ball in its flight path across the court. Frequently, the only method utilized to evaluate the lighting system is the amount of light on the court surface or 36" above the court. However, this method will not in itself insure proper lighting performance. The player waiting to return the ball sees the vertical surface of the ball facing him. Therefore, the side of the ball the player is viewing must be sufficiently illuminated. The illuminance on this vertical plane is more critical than the amount of light on the court surface.
Most times, insufficient light on the ball is caused by improper pole location. A single court with two poles on each side (4 total) is shown in Figure 1. This arrangement does not provide acceptable illuminance on the ball in the essential areas. Since most players are likely to position themselves at or near the baseline, lighting the ball in this area is critical. With the four pole layout in Figure 1, the player will have difficulty seeing because there is no light on the side of the approaching ball that he is viewing. The side of the ball is sufficiently lit between the pole locations, but becomes dark once it passes the pole location in its flight path toward the baseline. In other words, the direction of the light in relation to the player's position will determine how well the ball is seen. Although the horizontal surface of the court may be illuminated evenly in Figure 1, the flight path of the ball is not. Adding more fixtures or raising the pole height does not correct the problem, since the cause is improper quantity and positioning of the poles.
Figure 2 illustrates the same court with four poles per side (8 total). Now the ball is effectively lit in the viewing directions of the player over the entire court. The pole locations behind the base-lines project light from in back of the player towards the direction of the approaching ball. He can now see the critical vertical ball surface to make a return shot. This example fulfills both requirements of superior tennis court lighting, illuminating the flight path of the ball and the court surface.
Using new computer generated imaging capabilities, LSI is able to simulate the illumination on the ball. Figure 3 illustrates the four pole installation shown previously in Figure 1. Looking at the ball as it appears over the closest baseline, it is possible to see a severe shadow on the side facing the player. This further demonstrates the improper pole location. Figure 4 simulates the eight pole layout and demonstrates a significant improvement in lighting the ball surface over the baseline. Since light is coming from behind the player, the shadow is eliminated.
When evaluating tennis court lighting in the future, the primary concern should be how well the ball is illuminated, not just the court surface. Choosing a system like the Courtsider by LSI, and applying it properly will produce an installation that players will enjoy using at night.
"When you play with the best, you are the winner."