Guide Specifications for the General Requirements and Conditions - Revised 1988
Tennis Court Orientation
|From a study
of weather and playing conditions in our country it has been determined
that, in general, courts built south of the 38th degree parallel, a line
which runs approximately through Louisville, Kentucky, are playable on
a twelve month year-around basis. Courts north of the 38th degree parallel
are considered non-playable for approximately four to five winter months
of the year due to cold weather. Therefore, because of the summer sun angle
during standard time, at approximately 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., outdoor courts
north of the 38th degree parallel can be oriented directly true north-south.
This will allow good playing conditions during the summer months from mid
to late afternoon.
Outdoor courts built south of the 38th degree parallel, however, are considered generally good for play all year around. By a careful analysis of sun angles at both equinox times in mid-March and mid-September, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., when it is assumed that most tennis is played, and taking into account the fact that about 85% of the players are right-handed, it has been determined that the most comfortable angle for court setting is 22 degrees south-east and north-west for the length of the court off true north-south. This can even be increased to 30 degrees off north-south for courts built in the extreme southern areas of the United States.
The first courts known to be oriented 22 degrees south-east and north-west were constructed in Houston about 35 years ago. Observation of these and other courts south of the 38th parallel at both equinox times show no shadow of the net on either side of the court between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., which indicates that each side of the court has equal sun angles, which is assumed to be the ideal outdoor playing condition with respect to sun glare affecting either side of the court more than the other.
As the sun moves lower (south) in the winter months and higher (north) in the mid-summer months, the sun glare angle will be slightly more on the respective sides of the courts, but not enough to materially produce excessive glare.
On the other hand, if an outdoor court were laid out exactly north-south in the southern part of the United States, the intense glare from the sun in the mid-winter months between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. would seriously affect right-handed players on the north court by their having to look directly into the suns rays as they face the south court, and would make playing conditions extremely uncomfortable.
The final orientation of the tennis court is also affected by the cost of construction relative to the substantial slope of the land, zoning requirements and/or the owner's wishes. The need to orient a tennis court in a predominant east - west direction may exist in order to fulfill the construction criteria for the tennis facility, but it should be recognized that a predominant east-west orientation may substantially impair the useability of the facility.
If the owner's desires are for evening or night play, orientation does not become an extremely important concern. Refer to the outdoor lighting section for further information.
This court orientation has been officially approved by the United States Tennis Association and the U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builder's Association.
Suggested Orientation Diagram for Courts South of 42 Degrees N. Latitude (No Scale)
Notice: These proposed specifications are merely guides for use by architects, engineers, contractors and potential tennis court and track owners. Parties not experienced in tennis court and track construction are advised to consult a qualified contractor and/or design professional. Experienced contractors can be identified through the certification programs of the United States Tennis Court and Track Builders Association. The U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association, its members and employees do not warrant the specifications as proper under all conditions.
Specification Guides Available
U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders
For other information or help, consult any member of the U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association.
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