Facilities > 19. Indoor Courts

INTRODUCTION
 
Nobody will argue with the statement that it rains quite a lot in Ireland! Some sports can carry on regardless of rainfall during play. Tennis is not one of those sports. Tennis balls are very efficient at absorbing water, making then heavier than they should be. In the wet the bounce of the ball is significantly altered, and it becomes harder to grip the racquet effectively. A windy day also makes tennis more difficult and less enjoyable to play. More difficult and less enjoyable adds up to decreased motivation to go to the tennis club and get involved. The ultimate issues are member recruitment and retention.
 
Coaching is a key activity at all forward-looking clubs. Effective coaching depends on
reasonable conditions for the players. It is very difficult for players to concentrate on
instructions and make changes to their game if their main concern is how cold and wet they
are feeling. Ireland lags well behind other European nations in terms of number of
inhabitants per indoor court:
 
 The Case for Indoors Courts may be summarised as follows:
 
• Play all year round and for longer each day (see figures below).
 
• Increased levels of participation (comfortable conditions will attract new players).
 
• Ability to offer wide range of programmes to members on a year round basis.
 
• Major advantages for the `performance` side of the sport (under ideal conditions
players improve quicker).
 
• Increased revenue opportunities for clubs (e.g. charging hourly fees for indoor play).
 
• Ability to attract better, more highly qualified and full time coaches (the best coaches
will gravitate to the clubs with the best facilities).
 
In simple terms, it is possible to play the game for almost 1,800 hours more per year on an indoor court versus an outdoor floodlit court. A club with three indoor courts will gain over 5,000 hours of playing time each year:
  
PLANNING AN INDOOR FACILITY – INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS.
 
1. Is there sufficient space surrounding the playing surface to allow for the construction of
indoor facilities? The amount of space necessary varies depending on the type of structure
planned.
 
2. What type of building is most suitable, given the budget, planning restrictions etc? There
are three main types of structure available – air supported structures, framed fabric
structures and `traditional` structures – i.e. block/steel/wood buildings.

 
3. Who will be the Project Manager and who will assist in the form a Development
Committee? Are there people with the necessary expertise in the Club, or should an outside
consultant be brought in?
 
4. Are the necessary funds immediately available, or does fundraising need to take place –
club activities, bank loans?
 
5. Is it planned to cover existing courts, or is it a `green field` site? If green field, what type of court surface should be put in place? Covering courts allows for surfaces to be used that would not be practical in an outdoor environment in Ireland – e.g. non-porous cement. If covering existing courts, how will this effect current floodlighting structures?
 
6. Forward planning to ensure that there is sufficient and comfortable access and ease of use
for disabled users.
 
7. Who will take care of ongoing maintenance and security of the new structure? Can this be
done on a voluntary basis, or will it be necessary to employ staff?
 
AIR SUPPORTED STRUCTURES.
  
Airhalls are made from a light transmitting fabric. The fabric is inflated and supported by a
mechanical air blower.
 
• With some systems it is possible to heat the air if desired.
 
• Existing floodlights can sometimes be utilized, with the light shining through the fabric
from outside.
 
• One advantage of airhalls is that they can be taken down in the summer months, and
stored on site until autumn. This allows `the best of both worlds` and may also make it
easier to obtain planning permission.
 
• Thorough maintenance is required in order to patch any slight tears that may appear.
 
• Automatic back up systems are necessary, so that in the event of a power failure the
`tent` does not deflate.
 
• Single, double and triple skinned airhalls are available. While single skinned halls can
be lit from outside, double and triple skinned varieties generally require the lighting
source to be inside the bubble. Single skinned halls tend to generate condensation, but
this problem does not occur with double or triple skinned halls. The middle layer in a
triple skin hall is an insulation layer to help regulate temperature.
 
 
DIMENSIONS
 
The profile of air-supported structures can vary. To achieve recommended minimum height
clearances the following dimensions are required:
 
Run-back 7.0m (23’0”)
Side-run 5.0m (16’5”)
Total length 37.8m (124’0”)
Total width for two enclosed courts 36.3m (118’10”)
Total width for three enclosed courts 51.5m (168’10”)
Total width for four enclosed courts 66.7m (218’10”)
 
Allow for a further 2m on each end of the total lengths and widths to allow for the ring beam,
perimeter fencing, drainage and where applicable on single skin airhalls, the lighting columns.
 
FANS OR AIR BLOWERS
 
Enough fans of sufficient capacity should be provided to ensure that the Airhall Designer’s
specified inflation pressure (Design Inflation Pressure) can be reliably provided, even under
storm conditions. The fans should be configured to comply with the following requirements:
 
• There should be a minimum of two fans. These may be configured as one main and one standby fan, one main and one supplementary fan (which operates only at higher pressure levels), or both fans may operate together.
 
• The fans may be linked, but each fan should be capable of operating independently in case of failure of the other fan.
 
• If the fan is configured as a standby or supplementary fan it should start automatically if the main fan fails.
 
• Each fan should be capable on its own of supplying enough air to maintain the airhall at a pressure of at least 60% of the Design Inflation Pressure.
 
All fans should be capable of operating from either the main or the reserve power supply. The
inflation system including the fans should be robust, designed and rated for continuous
running, and easily maintainable.
 
FOUNDATIONS
 
The perimeter foundation should be arranged to resist the maximum uplift and horizontal
forces imposed upon it, taking into account the deflections of the membrane and the changes
in profile which occur under extreme loads.
 
The foundation arrangement should make allowance for:
 
• The drainage requirements of the court playing surfaces (when the airhall is not in place) and the runoff from the airhall (when the airhall is in place). Drainage may need to be incorporated within or to pass through the foundation.
• Routes for electrical and mechanical services associated with the airhall systems. Ducts
and electrical trunking including those cast into foundations should be waterproof and
of robust external construction quality.
 
• The need for perimeter security fencing, maintenance access and, in the case of airstructures
using transparent membranes, external floodlighting.
 
In the case of a concrete ring beam:
 
• Any concrete upstand above finished ground level should be constructed to a high
standard with clean shuttered sides and chamfered corners and edges in order to achieve an attractive and durable finish.
 
• The top surface of the perimeter foundation should be flat, level and smooth, with a small outward crossfall to prevent ponding of rainwater.
 
• Reinforcement should be provided within the concrete foundation to at least the level required to control cracking.
 
• Consideration should be given to ensure continuity of shear strength at construction joints and expansion joints.
 
• The back-fill material should be properly compacted in layers on both sides of the
ground beam.
 
In the case of ground anchors:
 
Component materials should be chosen with due consideration given to the design life of the airhall and the aggressiveness of the soil conditions. All anchors should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and by a manufacturer approved installer.
 
FENCING
 
The perimeter of the air-structure, including the inflation units, should be protected by a tall and robust security fence at least 2.75m high and/or some other system designed to deter vandals from gaining access to the structure and inflicting any damage. Sufficient space must be provided between the structure and the fence to facilitate maintenance access.
 
OPTIONAL EXTRAS
 
The following features are highly desirable additions to an airhall scheme, and could be
included in the scheme if desired.
 
Control System Options for the Inflation Systems
Remote Operation
A facility to remotely monitor the control system and make adjustments including pressure
and temperature settings (e.g. via a telephone or computer).
 
Emergency Door Ajar Status
A facility to instantaneously detect an open door and make corresponding adjustments to the control system to compensate for the pressure loss.
 
Remote Monitoring
A facility to remotely monitor pressure, wind and temperature gauge readings.
 
Alarm Options
Remote Monitoring - a facility to monitor the alarm status remotely (e.g. via a telephone or
computer).
 
Ground anchors in place.
 
Snow Detection Automatic Detection
 
A facility to automatically detect snowfall and to trigger the system to operate at the Design
Inflation Pressure (and temperature if heating is provided), without the need for manual
intervention. Automatic snowfall detection should be via instruments mounted in an exposed
position, but protected from strong winds and accidental interference, on top of nearby
buildings or structures where snow can accumulate.
 
Door Options Emergency Doors
 
Wherever possible, pressure balanced rather than butt-hinged emergency doors should be
used, with self-closers strong enough to close the door against the action of the internal
pressure.
 
Security Options Alarms and CCTV
 
Consideration should be given to the installation of automatic alarm and/or video
surveillance security systems around the airhall.
 

Storage

 

For seasonal airhalls, if a suitable storage facility does not already exist a suitable facility
needs to be provided. The storage facility should permit the airhall to be stored and retrieved
easily and provide a secure, dry and pest free environment.
 
Heating Option
 
Consideration should be given to fitting heating unit(s). The heating unit if fitted should be
compatible with and incorporated into the inflation system. The control of temperature
should be fully automatic.
 
• Air temperature should be maintained at a minimum of 8 degrees C. when the ambient
temperature is -4 degrees C.
 
• The control system should include a master timeclock to switch the heating on and off to
match usage patterns.
 
• During unoccupied periods a frost protection system can be used to maintain a minimum
temperature of 2 C.
 
• Any temperature sensors within the air hall should to be fitted with wire guards to protect
the devices.
  
FRAMED FABRIC STRUCTURES.
 
 Framed Fabric Structures consist of a lightweight metal framework over which a light transmitting fabric membrane is stretched. Modular design permits selection of sizes to cover
a number of courts. No inflation systems are required and the sides can be left open ifdesired.
 
DIMENSIONS
To achieve recommended minimum height clearances the following dimensions are required:
Run-back: 6.4m
Side-run: 3.66m
Total length: 36.58m
Total width for two enclosed courts: 33.53m
Total width for three enclosed courts: 48.77m
 
Total width for four enclosed courts: 64.01m
Space between courts: 4.27m
Allow for a further 2m on each end of the total lengths and widths to allow for the foundations, perimeter fencing and drainage.
 
DESIGN STANDARDS
 
Structural Frame
Structural frames should be sufficiently stiff and well braced to ensure that their deflection
does not result in excessive stress concentrations in the membrane panels. Durable padded
protection should be provided to exposed columns and rigid bracings to a minimum height of
2m above floor level.
 
Bracing Cables
Cables and their end terminals should be stainless or galvanised steel, carefully designed,
detailed and installed to avoid any undue chaffing or damage to adjacent membrane material.
 
Frame Splices and Connections
Frame splices and connections should be designed and detailed to prevent any sharp edges,
corners or protrusions from bearing onto the membrane material, and to avoid local
membrane stress concentrations.
 
Membrane Panels
All membrane panels should be tensioned and shaped in such a way as to ensure stability under wind loading and to avoid flapping or chaffing. Where membrane materials are expected to creep and stretch over time, re-tensioning of the membrane panels should be
possible. All membrane panels should also be tensioned and orientated to shed water and to avoid ponding occurring during and after rainfall.
 
Membrane Attachment System
 
The attachment system should be detailed to prevent membrane damage occurring.
Membrane attachment and tensioning devices should be designed to evenly distribute the
tensioning force into the membrane material.
The following requirements should be met:
 
• Punched bolt holes in steel or aluminium components shall be ground smooth where
they attach to or come into contact with the membrane.
 
• Steel or aluminium sections should be properly aligned without any steps or sharp
protruding edges.
 
• Holes in membranes, for example to permit bolts to pass through, should be punched
with an appropriate circular punch, to ensure a smooth circular profile avoiding
scores, sharp corners or overcuts.
 
• Where the membrane is directly tensioned by rope or cable, corrosion proof eyelets
should be used to reinforce the holes.
 
• All attachment components should be sufficiently stiff to ensure that their deflection
does not result in uneven stress distribution in the membrane material.
 
Panel and Structure Openings
 
In cases where it is intended to remove membrane panels or part of the structure during the
summer months, the attachment system, any holding down bolts, or anchorage to the
foundation should be designed such that there are no elements remaining (e.g. upstanding
bolts or angles) which could present a trip hazard to players or spectators. All membrane
materials should be stored in a secure, rodent-free, dry environment during the summer
months.
 
Doors and Emergency Exits
 
Provision for disabled users should be made either through the main door or via an adjacent
emergency exit. All doors, including emergency exits, should be fitted with clear viewing
panels to permit safe entry and exit.
 
Foundations
 
The foundations should be arranged to resist the loads imposed upon them including uplift
and horizontal forces.
 
The foundation arrangement should make allowance for:
 
• The drainage requirements of the court playing surfaces (i.e. when removable
membrane panels are not in place) and the runoff from the framed-fabric structure.
 
Drainage may need to be incorporated within or to pass through the foundation.
 
• Routes for electrical and mechanical services associated with the framed-fabric
structure heating and lighting systems. Ducts and electrical trunking including those
cast into foundations should be waterproof and of robust external construction quality.
 
• The need for perimeter security fencing and maintenance access.
In the case of concrete ring beams, pads or pile caps:
• Any concrete upstand above finished ground level should be constructed to a high
standard with clean shuttered sides and chamfered corners and edges in order to
achieve an attractive and durable finish.
 
• The top surface of the foundation should be flat, level and smooth, with a small outward crossfall to prevent ponding of rainwater.
 
• The back-fill material should be properly compacted in layers on both sides of the
foundation.
 
In the case of foundations incorporating ground anchors:
• Ground anchors component materials should be chosen with due consideration given to
the design life of the framed-fabric structure and the aggressiveness of the soil
conditions.
 
• All anchors should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and by a
manufacturer approved installer.
 
Fencing
 
The perimeter of the frame-fabric structure should be protected by a tall robust security fence
at least 3m high and/or some other system designed to deter vandals from gaining access to
the structure and inflicting any damage. Sufficient space must be provided between the
structure and the fence to facilitate maintenance access.
  
TRADITIONAL STRUCTURES
 
 
In using the heading above, we refer to a permanent structure made of traditional materials
using traditional construction techniques. This commonly takes the form of a steel or timber
portal frame spanning the full length of the court (including run-backs) clad in a material to
suit local conditions e.g. metal cladding, brickwork or timber boarding.
 
DIMENSIONS
 
Minimum Runback (ie clear depth behind baselines, at each end): 6.40m (21’ 0”)
Minimum Side-run (ie clear width beside each side): 3.66m (12’ 0”)
Minimum Side-run between courts not separately enclosed: 4.27m (14’ 0”)
Unobstructed height at netline : 9.00m (29’ 6’) min
Unobstructed height at base line: 5.75m (18’ 11”) min
Unobstructed height at rear of run-back: 4.00m (13’ 1”) min
Total length: 36.57m (120’ 0”)
Width for one enclosed court: 18.29m (60’ 0”)
Width for two enclosed courts: 33.53m (110’ 0”)
Width for three enclosed courts: 48.77m (160’ 0”)
Width for four enclosed courts: 64.01m (210’ 0”)
 
DESIGN STANDARDS
 
Positioning
 
• The indoor hall should be positioned so that it does not overshadow any outdoor courts.
 
• The physical relationships between spaces within the building should be considered.
These may include café/bar areas, reception area, offices, storage etc
 
 
 
Maintenance
In addition to satisfying the fundamental requirements of function, safety, elegance and
economy, the design should minimise future maintenance needs and running costs.
 
Viewing Areas
 
• A viewing area within the tennis hall, behind the baseline of indoor courts with easy
access for disabled and family users.
 
• Views from social area to indoor/ outdoor courts positioned so as to avoid distracting
players.
 
• An access lift or ramp should be provided to raised viewing areas.
 
Accessibility
 
• Parent and child bays or a drop off point system should be included in any scheme in
addition to statutory minimum requirements.
 
• Accessibility for users and coaching/tennis development staff.
 
• Accessibility from car park to main entrance for all users.
 
• Each internal and external court should be easily accessible without disturbing users on
adjacent courts e.g. by the use of separate access doors for each court.
 
• Revenue collection facilities should be easily accessible to social/entrance spaces.
 
Playing Surface
 
The playing surface should lie in a single level horizontal plain with no gradient. The
maximum permitted tolerance in the level of the finished playing surface is a 6mm gap under
a 3m straight edge.
 
 
 
Colour Schemes
 
• Walls should be flat and continuous with a minimum of obstructions or protrusions and
be of a single light matt colour other than brilliant white.
 
• Ceilings and secondary steelwork should be coloured with the same single matt finish to
give a continuous effect.
 
Internal Fittings
 
• Single colour backdrop drapes should be provided to the walls behind the baseline of the
tennis courts. These should span from ground level to eaves level or to a minimum of
2m to the underside of viewing gallery handrails.
 
• Netting should be used above the curtains to ceiling level. Suitable colours for drapes
and netting include dark green and dark blue.
 
• Adequate durable protection should be provided to any protrusions eg. steel columns, to
a minimum height of 2m above floor level and should be coloured to match the canvas
drapes. The steelwork above this protection should be coloured to match the canvas
drapes up to their maximum height to give a level backdrop. Alternatively, the lower
portion of the structure may be positioned so that it does not project into the hall and
is continuous with the wall surface.
 
• Court divider netting should be provided, positioned between courts with the ability to
be withdrawn if required.
 
·          Good clear signage internally and externally combined with a considered use of colour and texture.
 
 
Indoor Courts (284 kbs)