Can we teach tennis players to brush their courts when finished?
If you have ever played golf, you would know that it is very bad etiquette not to rake/fix the sand trap after one has blasted out. Hitting out of a crater left by someone could be costly to your score, and in golf you don’t get to have as many mistakes as in tennis. In each trap rakes are provided so that you have no excuse and often your playing partner will remind you, if you forget. Why not brush/fix your clay tennis court after playing?
We slide about them for an hour or so and create all kinds of divots and piles of sand, and yet, when finished we think nothing of leaving a messed up court for the next person to enjoy lots of bad bounces. At public facilities we even get to pay for the privilege of playing on a lousy court, and for the benefit of tennis don’t we want people to enjoy their experience playing tennis? At the private country club they can afford more money to spend on the maintenance guys, but often this means doing the courts at morning, mid day and night. What about the times in between? In Europe public or private, the players young and old brush their courts after playing. I am playing for a German Club Team this summer, and at the club I’m sure many of the people are as just as well off as members of American Country Clubs. They think nothing of bushing their courts. So that there are no excuses; on each court there are two small court sweepers that look more like cloth mats with holes in them and a wood board holding them together with a rope on the end to hold. They are not very heavy, and if you are healthy enough to play tennis, you are healthy enough to drag the mat around half the court. They also have line brushes which aren’t quite as fancy as ours but at ¼ the cost
So how did we become so spoiled, and non-caring in the US? Easy, the courts are done by a maintenance person at night and in the morning. The brushes are big heavy things, and often few are available. So we try to play first and maybe say sorry to the next guy. The good news is there are now a few public courts like at Bartlett Park in St. Petersburg, Fl or Bitsey Grant in Atlanta, Ga. where they have started the European system. There are brushes on every court and signs to encourage you to sweep your court after playing. After a while players remind each other to sweep. What’s the hurry; it takes maybe 5 minutes including line brushing and it is a good cool down and therapy if by chance you weren’t on the winning end.
Now, maybe with the help of the USTA and USPTA a push could be made to encourage clubs to purchase the brushes (the mats in Europe are much cheaper and easier to handle) and then coach the players to brush their courts. Also, the USTA might provide some matching funding for public facilities to purchase sweepers to further entice them to start the program. So let’s think of sweeping a tennis court just like fixing the sand trap; paying one forward in a small way.