Tennis is so much more than Wimbledon and Andy Murray, with the buzz around other Grand Slam tournaments in Australia, France and the USA keeping tennis in the news. Equally popular are the Masters events and pro tournaments outside the Grand Slam circuit.
No wonder that Suffolk Tennis Courts has found strong demand for new home tennis and multi-game courts, and for the maintenance and repair of existing hard courts. Based at Clopton Park, the family owned company advises private clients on the best way to design the perfect court while being sensitive to the environment. They also work for schools, clubs and local councils.
Kristian Thorpe, who runs the company with his wife Wendy, is the third generation of his family to be in the business, with over 75 years’ collective experience. He says, “Tennis is an inclusive sport for any age that attracts young people of all abilities. The popularity of clubs across the UK, junior championships and the success of young players like Emma Radacanu on the world stage means that private tennis and multi-game courts are in demand – providing you have the space!”
Working primarily in East Anglia, the company has a thriving maintenance business too. Says Wendy, “We encourage owners to have an annual contract, so we can keep a court in top condition by cleaning and moss removal before it becomes a more expensive problem.”
As a family company, they are competitive on price as they don’t have huge overheads. A small, dedicated team gives personal attention to every client. It makes all the difference.
The most popular home new builds are county court size, with smaller run-off areas. A tournament court is the larger size, as used by professional clubs. Suffolk Tennis Courts has had work contracted to them by one of the largest companies in the UK, who appreciate their quality and flexibility. But today’s business is focused on their own clients.
A new court takes around eight weeks from start to finish, from levelling and preparing the site with type one granite (this prevent lumps and bumps from frosts, quaintly called ‘frost heave’), installing fencing, hand laying two layers of all-weather tarmac and a synthetic surface colour-sprayed to order, or even artificial grass. Features such as practice panels or viewing platforms can also be included.
Adds Kristian, “Designing and building a court on someone’s property, we’re sensitive to the area surrounding the court, even the fencing, which is part of the design and can affect the view of the court from the surrounding area. We also need to be aware of nearby trees and hedges, and install root barriers so the court isn’t disturbed.
“Providing a truly personal service, competitive pricing and outstanding quality is our mission. We build a long-term relationship with our clients, who often refer us to friends,” says Wendy.