You are probably familiar with the professional playing surfaces in tennis: grass, clay, and hardcourt. The most interesting playing surface from our perspective as a sports surfacing specialist is the hardcourt.
Of the four Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian and US Open are played on hardcourt. Roger Federer leads in hardcourt Grand Slam titles, winning the US Open a record five times consecutively. Peter Sampras is second in hardcourt Grand Slams.
What are hardcourts made from? Here are the different types of tennis flooring:
Used for: Pro tournaments
Professional hard courts like those used in the US Open are made from concrete, but the playing surface is actually acrylic. The acrylic is poured and leveled with careful consideration for ambient temperature and dust. This is the correct surface for professional use – concrete + a non-porous acrylic topper.
The acrylic used for professional courts is self-leveling but fragile. The top layer is normally replaced after a tournament. Thankfully, it is recyclable.
Used for: Outdoor tennis courts.
While non-porous acrylic offers the best playing surface indoors, outdoor courts need to make use of porous acrylic. Porous acrylic is extremely useful in rainy conditions because it allows water to drain. There is no water retention with porous acrylic, making it a great choice for outdoor hardcourts.
The downside to porous acrylic is it’s dependent on the subfloor being level, so not all venues are suitable candidates without a level subfloor.
PKK (porous cushion court)
Used for: Laying over existing courts.
PKK (porous cushion court) is designed to offer increased cushioning underfoot with excellent porosity. It’s suitable for indoor and outdoor tennis courts and can be laid over an existing porous hardcourt. The main reason to choose PKK, is if regular porous acrylic is not an option, or you desire a court with a cushioning feel.
PKK has a long lifespan, and the cushioned surface reduces the risk of injury. It’s a popular choice for training courts and amateur venues.
Which type of tennis flooring is right for me?
Indoor tennis courts can make use of any kind of hard court, but professional tournaments like the US Open use non-porous acrylic. Outdoor tennis courts need a porous surface, such as porous acrylic or porous cushion court.