A Clean Sweep

Sweep Beyond the Baseline
Sweep Beyond the Baseline
For those of us who play on HarTru (and have to sweep afterwards ourselves), the decision comes, “what is the best way to sweep the court?”

From my experience of doing and watching others, there appear to be three popular methods to sweep the court:

1) North/South – This method sweeps from the net to the back fence in overlapping rows. This is the way I usually do it, because it makes it easier for the player sweeping the lines to follow right behind you.

2) East/West – This one goes side to side, running parallel to the net. It is good to do this occasionally to prevent buildup of material under the lines from sweeping in only one direction.

3) The Great Circle Route – I don’t really understand this one, which players sweep around the outside and end up with smaller circles in the middle of the court.

Which way do you sweep and why?

Sweeping Suggestions

However you do it, there are some things you should consider (which many of the soft court novices ignore)…

Court Lumps
Court Lumps

• Don’t pick up the brush on the court. This will leave a pile of HarTru and debris on the playing surface.

• Sweep the whole court. Chuck Kinyon’s pet peeve… players who don’t sweep much beyond the baseline or sidelines.

• Sweep the center T. I like that little mark to be clean (I know, I am anal).

• Put the brushes back where you found them. If the court owners keep their big and line brushes in a certain location, return them there.

• Don’t lean the brush on its bristles. Both the court and line brushes are meant to be hung. Leaving them on the ground will ruin the bristles.

You have any other “pet peeves”?

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8 thoughts on “A Clean Sweep

  1. I belong to an old fashioned red clay club in nice weather; indoors in the winter. No. 1 pet peeve = players who sweep the court but not any of the the lines. No. 2 pet peeve = not sweeping all of the lines (on the assumption that nobody plays singles so only the outside alley lines need sweeping for doubles). No. 3 pet peeve = leaving a clump of dirt on the court.

    Marty – three good peeves! thanks. george

  2. I commend George to post on this boring but relevant topic; Christmas must be a slow week. First, wouldn’t it be great if we could get the US tennis public to brush their courts after they play like in Europe. Most think that it should be done for them, but do you rake the sand trap after you blast out? Most people do, why not brush the court so the next person has a nice court to play on. Part of the problem is not enough brushes, better are drag mats which don’t dry the courts so fast and cost less. Would the USTA & USPTA ever endorse such an idea for the betterment of tennis?

    Second, when it comes to brushing the important thing is to just do it and don’t leave any piles of dirt. There is an alternative method of brushing the lines I would suggest trying. It takes less time and promotes good line calling. Only brush the service and baselines. I realize it is not quite as pretty, but why waste time if you don’t have to. The other sidelines are easy to see and by not brushing them when a ball hits close to the line you know exactly where it hit. We will be using it in the two Cat II events in FL this winter to speed up court turnover and indirectly improving line calls.
    Happy Holidays, Larry Turville

    Larry – One of my tennis buddies (Chuck Kinyon) is a believer that too much sweeping is bad for the courts … dries them out. I don’t know. On the selective line sweeping, when Colonial did that one year, i found it more difficult to get a good court perspective (perhaps too much material on the courts/lines?). Thanks. george

  3. In my opinion, the fact that many people still use brooms to sweep courts amazes me. I owned and operated a club for many years and we would rake the courts. It is a far superior method to grooming a court for several reasons.

    The first is you can have a much smoother surface to play on. Nothing is more annoying than playing on a “mine field”. Secondly, you will need less material annually to maintain A+ court conditions. Most people know that brushing a court separates the larger granules from the smaller ones causing what we call “dead material”. It’s not dead folks it’s just separated! Just consider grooming a court without separating the materials. That’s correct, you wouldn’t have “dead material”.

    Club’s across America are literally throwing $$$ in the dumpster because they are brushing courts and separating material. The more you brush the more you throw away… It’s a system that is wasteful beyond words but easy to understand how it keeps revenues flowing.

    All rakes are not created equal. I have seen a few types of rakes used today and they seem to have one row of spines which simply don’t work very well. They are still better than brooms but could be greatly improved. They are also expensive.

    We made our own with ordinary leave rakes. We used a combination of metal and bamboo rakes so that there were 3 rows of spines and it worked amazingly well. It could be dragged behind a golf cart at any speed (yep) and you could drag up tight to the fences without damaging anything while keeping the court completely groomed which prevents all the work needed to scrape near the fences periodically.

    These cost a fraction of the cost and never separated material or created the waves of built up material you see on so many courts.

    If you look at the pictures above you will see whether it’s North/South or East/West it’s still a poor result because a brush is being used.

    Think outside the box!

    Fred Robinson

    Fred, one of the clubs i play at has a drag mat that is also very effective (and picks up leaves on the court, which brushes just drag along). thanks. george

  4. I vote for north – south, all the way (or almost) to the back fence, a few feet outside the doubles alleys, no piles on the court and cleaning the center mark at the baseline. The other alternative is hard courts in Kansas all summer!

    George, yes, the wind blows and the hard courts are cleaned! Thanks. George

  5. After the sweeping of the court (and I defer to the best equipment and methods to the knowledgeable opinions before me), rolling the lines needs to stop at the end of each line. If the roller goes past the line, the Har Tru is removed and a mark is not clear as to where it landed because the material is gone, cannot check for space between the mark and the ball.

    Winder, yup, that is another good one to add to the list! Thanks. George

  6. Leaving the area behind the baseline unswept is like a painter not putting the sky in the picture.

    Chuck, artistically spoken, partner! george

  7. In the summer I play at a couple of hartru clubs in NJ including my yacht club. It is the responsibility of the players to sweep before the next group. Since some are still playing on the next court we sweep north to south so it is less distracting to the others still playing. Here in Naples I see many of the courts don’t have anything for the players to clean a court before they start so you are playing on a chopped up surface, particularly if you are following the juniors who have been training. If the clubs don’t want to sweep between matches at least put the brooms out for the next group.

    Doug – i agree! Have brooms handy for those of us who care about a good court. thanks, george

  8. If I remember correctly when I was a pro in Maryland we watered the courts above ground, brushed them and then rolled them almost every day. By rolling them combined the material that may have separated from the binding material. They were always fantastically smooth and pliable never got bad bounces and I always felt that the rake got more bad bounces from having more loose material on top.

    Fred, i am a big believer in the benefits of rolling soft courts regularly. thanks. george

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