One of the things that I noticed when I walked onto a tennis court for the first time was that the net tended to sag in the middle and wasn’t completely level across the top. At the time I thought it was somewhat strange, but at the age of 10 I didn’t yet understand the physics of what caused a tennis net to sag down in the center.
A tennis net is not straight because it sags under the sheer weight of the net. If a tennis net were to be tensioned to the point where the net was straight, the amount of tension in the net would be too much and cause damage to the net.
Let’s take a closer look at what causes tennis nets to sag in the center and why it is not practical to keep them straight.
Why Is A Tennis Net Not Straight?
A tennis net is heavy. This means that a tennis net will sag toward the center under the sheer weight of the net. This is the same physics principle that makes a suspension bridge across a gorge sag at the center.
It is not possible to put enough tension through the net cord to make it straight all the way across without damaging the structural integrity of the net.
The height of a tennis net is measured at the center in order to take the sag into account sag.
Why Do Tennis Net Dip In The Middle?
The net cord and the supporting poles of a tennis net are not strong enough to hold the immense tension that will be needed to keep it level all the way across its whole length.
A tennis net is simply too heavy to prevent sagging in the center. In order to have uniformity of net height across all tennis nets the posts holding up a tennis net must be 42 inches high and the net is measured at the center and must be 36 inches high.
Why Does A Tennis Net Sag Or Drop In The Middle?
A tennis net is six inches lower at the center than it is at the net posts due to she sheer weight of the net pulling it down. This makes it easier th hit hard cross-court shots that go over the powest part of the net.
The same applies when you want to play a faster first service. Aim your service to go over the center of the net where it is lower.
According to the rules of tennis, the net must touch the ground in order to prevent the ball from traveling underneath the net. The net will also have a vertical white strap anchoring it down in the center as well as a white band running along the top of the net covering the tensioning cable.
The tennis nets at the junior school where I learned to play tennis at the age of 10did not touch the ground. Even though it was technically against the rules, it was done for practical purposes. The area where I grew up was prone to very strong winds all through the summer months. The wind plowing the net so that it constantly scraped against the cement surface of the court would completely shred the net by the end of a single season. Changing to a slightly shorter net that stopped an inch before the ground solved that problem.
The correct height for all tennis nets is 3ft at the center and 3ft 6in at the 2 net posts. This was stipulated by the International Tennis Federation and has been adopted by the US tennis association as well.
What Is The Tennis Net Height For Playing Doubles?
Even though the net posts for a doubles tennis net are set wider than for a singles tennis net, the measurements remain the same. Doubles tennis nets are 42 inches high at the posts and 36 inches high at the center.
When it comes to the actual surface of a tennis court, that can last for up to 10 years as long as the court is well maintained and depending on the climate conditions as well as what type of court you have. For instance, the hard tennis courts used outside, which are made from a concrete base, will tend to last longer than a clay court which requires a lot more maintenance and replenishment of the clay surface.
When it comes to the net, these obviously wear out a lot quicker than the surface of an outside court. Tennis nets are made largely from nylon which degrades under ultraviolet light. Therefore the longer your tennis net stays exposed to harsh sunlight, the faster the nylon fibers will begin to degrade, which will lead to the net beginning to decay in as little time as a couple of seasons.
As I mentioned earlier, the primary school where I learned how to play tennis had a problem with incredibly high winds that would cause the base of the tennis net to scrape up and down against the concrete hard surface of the tennis court. This would cause the base of the net to wear through, and the rest of the net would start to unravel. Eventually, the school had tennis nets especially made that didn’t touch the court surface, and that solved the problem the tennis nets lasted 5 years instead of getting replaced every season.
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to take your tennis net down in winter, especially when dealing with outside of tennis courts that are exposed to harsh winter conditions. Depending on how severe your winter is, you may be able to keep your tennis net up further into the autumn, allowing you to be able to play more tennis before it gets too grim and cold to venture onto the tennis court.
For instance, at the Rafael Nadal tennis academy in Mallorca, the weather is so pleasant that outside tennis courts can keep then it’s up for slightly more than 9 months of the year.
When it comes to taking tennis nets down for the winter, I am referring to outside tennis courts and no indoor courts. Having indoor courts with their nets up through the winter allows players to keep training during the winter in order to be in tip-top condition when the new summer season starts.
If you do have an outside tennis court and you intend to keep the net up through the winter, be sure to lower it slightly. In other words, take a little bit of the tension out of the cable that is holding the net up. Doing this will help your tennis net to last a lot longer than if it was under full tension for the whole winter.