A.S.B.A. Guidelines for Tennis Court Construction

Section 1.B. – Site Investigation

1.0 Scope
The ultimate performance of any tennis court or running track depends to an important degree on subsoil and drainage conditions. The stability of the subsoil also has a direct influence on the ability of the contractor to properly construct the court or track and to maintain design grades under the deformations generated by the construction equipment itself.

Expansive soils or plastic soils and use of base course materials consisting of these types of soils can create further problems.

Frost action is exaggerated where frost susceptible materials exist with moisture available to generate frost heave.

It is, therefore, necessary for the owner, or the contractor, or a consultant retained by either the owner or the contractor, to identify soil conditions existing at the site and to take these conditions into account in designing the court or track. Site preparation, including stripping, placement of backfill and base construction must be properly performed to minimize the risk of problems due to subsoil and subgrade conditions. (See Site Preparation Guidelines, Section 1.C.)

2.0 Site Investigation
The following Guidelines for site investigation should be applied with considerable flexibility depending on the nature of the conditions that exist at a particular site, and the degree of risk that the owner is willing to take regarding adverse effects of subsoil conditions.

Obviously, the more serious conditions that require an adequate study include:

1.         The existence of peat or other organic soils at the site;
2.         Uncontrolled fill materials or waste materials at the site;
3.         Expansive soils at the site;
4.         High ground water conditions or surface water retention areas (low area flooding);
5.         Special usage of the facility (i.e. using tennis court as ice skating rink).

These risks have been identified in subsequent paragraphs, with Guidelines for investigation under different circumstances. Such risks require the owner and the contractor to make a joint decision as to which level of investigation to make before the project is constructed. This is done so that an adequate study can be made, and in the event of any problems developing because of subgrade conditions, the responsibility can be clearly allocated between the owner and the contractor.

 3.0       Soil and Site Conditions

A. Sites with No Anticipated Problems
It is expected that most sites will not require extensive investigation, but it is recommended that every site be investigated to the extent that shallow hand dug test pits, hand auger borings, or backhoe excavations be performed to identify conditions that might create problems later and require a more thorough study, as well as to serve as a basis for determining topsoil removal and placement of fill and drainage.

It should be noted that if test pits are dug, the backfill must be adequately compacted or the test pit itself will become a source of depression in the surface. Thus, such test pits should be located between courts or outside the limits of the tennis or track surface to be constructed.

Soils should be classified, in general, in accordance with the visual manual method of identification of soils, utilizing the Unified Soil Classification System (ASTM Methods D 2488 “Description of Soil Visual Manual Procedure”, and D 2487 “Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes”). It is not intended, however, that a rigorous use of these methods be required, but only use of terminology that will describe the soil conditions in terms of soil types using the Unified Soil Classification symbols, such as CL, CH, etc.

Data obtained from this investigation should be prepared for later reference, if necessary, or for review by a qualified engineer if an evaluation is decided upon by the owner and/or the contractor.

B. Intermediate Classification of Site Problems
Where the owner wishes to have additional information to provide a sounder basis for design, an auger investigation is recommended, with auger borings performed in each quadrant of the track or at the four corners of the tennis court, plus intermediate borings between courts as required to secure adequate site information.

ASTM Method D 1452 is recommended for performing these borings, which should be carried to a depth of 5 ft. minimum, or to firm materials, if unsuitable materials are encountered. These borings may be made by the owner or contractor, or by a qualified engineer or architect.

If borings are made by the owner or contractor, soils should be reclassified, again in accordance with D 2488 and D 2487, by a geotechnical engineer selected or approved by the owner. In addition, a letter report commenting on soil conditions and recommending design and construction procedures should be prepared by the geotechnical engineer or architect.

C. Difficult Site or Soil Conditions
Where any of the problem soils previously referred to, such as existence of fill material, organic material or expansive soils, are known or believed to exist at a site, then it is recommended that the owner retain a geotechnical consultant to obtain samples in accordance with ASTM Method D 1587 in cohesive soils, and D 1586 in granular soils, with borings to a depth of at least 10 ft. or into firm materials. This should be followed by appropriate unconfined compressions tests, water content and density determinations on cohesive soils, and penetration resistances and blows per foot for granular soils, plus water level determinations, again with borings at each corner of the tennis court or at each quadrant of the track and intermediate borings not greater than 200 ft. apart outside the pavement area.

This information should be prepared on boring log forms that are utilized by the geotechnical consultant, and accompanied by a report summarizing conditions encountered, the test data, and recommendations for site preparation and design of the court or track, including compaction specifications for the backfill material.

Where expansive soils are indicated, whether due to natural or fill materials, appropriate expansion tests should be performed to determine the degree of expansion that can be expected.

The geotechnical consultant should provide recommendations for drainage and any other recommendations considered appropriate to minimize the risk of ultimate damage to the surface due to settlement or heave, or due to instability during construction under the weight of the construction equipment.

See also Guidelines for:
1.C. Site Preparation, Earthwork, Drainage and Subbase Construction
1.D. Vegetation Control or Vegetation Regrowth Prevention
1.E. Subsurface and Surface Drainage for Recreational Areas

ASTM specifications are available from
American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM)
100 Barr Harbor Drive
West Conshohocken, PA 19428

NOTICE: These Construction Guidelines are for use by architects, engineers, contractors, tennis court and running track owners. Parties not experienced in tennis court or running track construction are advised to consult a qualified contractor, consultant and/or design professional. Experienced contractors, consultants and/or design professionals can be identified through the U. S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association. Due to changing construction technology and techniques, only the most recent version of these Guidelines should be used. Variances in climate, soil conditions, topography and other factors may make these Guidelines unsuitable for certain projects.

Copyright © 1998 by U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association. All Rights Reserved.