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How To Choose The Right Windscreen For Your Tennis Court

By Mark Montemayor,  April 6, 2013

The True Function of Windscreens

Windscreens are an attractive finishing touch to any tennis court.  While they do provide minimal wind blockage, their name is deceiving.  Their main function is to provide a dark, even, background for better ball visibility.  Without them, at least at either end of the court, it is much more difficult for the players to accurately track the ball as it passes the many colors and shapes of the landscape outside of the court.  Dark green or black windscreens provide the best contrast to the optic yellow tennis ball.

A secondary function of windscreen is to provide some privacy between the court and an adjacent property, road, driveway or other feature a court owner might desire to desire block from view.

Only after these two would I place wind blockage on the list of functions of windscreen.  If you don't believe me, walk around a court with windscreen during a 15 20 MPH windstorm.  As you move fifteen feet away from the windscreen, you will notice very little wind is being blocked.   It just swirls over the top of the screen and onto the court.  You really have only minor protection from the wind where it counts, within the playing lines.

Windscreen Choices

With this information in mind, let's talk about the various windscreen options available for your specific needs.  There are three main materials used for windscreens:  polyester, polypropylene, and polyethylenePolypropylene windscreens can be purchased in open or closed mesh fabric. Polyester and polyethylene windscreens only come in open mesh.  Closed mesh windscreens have a tighter weave (95% density), providing more privacy, but making the fence and screen more susceptible to wind damage. Open-mesh windscreens, at 75% - 80% density, don't provide quite as much privacy, but are much less likely to be damaged by wind stress than their closed-mesh counterparts. 

All of these windscreens can be purchased in 6 foot and 9 foot lengths.  Nine foot windscreen provides more privacy and a larger backdrop, but has one major disadvantage; your fence is much more susceptible to wind damage. Six foot windscreen has 33% less area and is installed lower on the fence, reducing the chance of wind damage dramatically.

Which Windscreen Is The Best Value For You?

Polyester is considered the premium windscreen material.  It is also the most expensive. Approximately 10% cheaper, polypropylene is considered the economical alternative to polyester.  Polyethylene (the new kid on the block), is rapidly becoming a favorite among court owners around the country.  Polyethylene Windscreen is the cheapest of the three, and the strongest.

Polyester and polypropylene windscreens are custom cut to the width of each fence panel, and are hemmed and grommeted along the tops, bottoms, and sides.  Each panel is determined by measuring the distance between two terminal posts. A terminal post can be any of the following:  a gate post, a corner post, or any post where there is a transition from one height of fence to another (example: a transition from 10 foot fence to 4 foot fence)

You actually measure the distance between the tension bars just in front of these posts. The graphic below illustrates how to measure each panel for windscreen. The 4 images below will help you understand what I am trying to describe.

Polyethylene, the toughest and most versatile windscreen, is sold in rolls of 120 feet with grommets, spaced every 12 inches, at the top and bottom. You simply roll out what you need for each panel, cut it with an easy-to-use tool (included with the windscreen), and fold the two sides so they create a double layer of 1 to 2 inches. Plastic ties are used to fasten the windscreen to the fence at each grommet on the top and bottom, and every foot along the folded windscreen material at the sides.

 Pros And Cons Of Each Windscreen

Polyester Windscreen

PROS

CONS

Five year warranty

Highest price

Fade resistant

Must be ordered to size

Excellent longevity

 

Won't unravel if cut

 

Pre-cutting makes installation easy

 

Grommets at top, bottom, and sides

 

Comes in open and closed mesh

 

 Polypropylene Windscreen

PROS

CONS

Three year warranty

Will unravel if cut

Cheaper than polyester

Must be ordered to size

Good longevity

Fades faster than other screens

Pre-cut makes installation easy

 

Grommets at top, bottom, and sides

 

Comes in open and closed mesh

 

Polyethylene Windscreen

PROS

CONS

Five year warranty

Must be cut on-site

Fade resistant

No grommets on sides

Strongest windscreen on the market

Must buy in 120 rolls

Can replace small damaged areas without replacing entire panel

More susceptible to heat damage from blower engines

Won't unravel if cut

 

Cheapest Price of all three windscreens

 

My Personal Preferences

To summarize, if money were not an issue, I would choose 6 foot, open mesh, polyester windscreen for my court. If price were an important factor, I would choose 6 foot, polyethylene windscreen, with grommets at the top and bottom. I would only choose polypropylene windscreen if price were the most important factor, and I wanted the convenience of custom cut panels. The choice between 6 foot and 9 foot windscreen is a personal one. As a contractor, I have just seen too many fences damaged by 9 foot windscreens to choose them for myself. They are, however, chosen 3 to 1, over 6 foot screens, by most court owners.

 Wind Damage Issues

I would only advise using closed mesh windscreen where the wind is very light, or the fence is fortified with 3 inch diameter line posts spaced every 5 feet.

 Bound windows and vents are an available option, but I was told by one of the original windscreen manufacturers, 30 years ago, that they provide almost no stress relief from the wind. 

You will find all of the windscreen products mentioned in this article at our store: www.thecourtstore.com. Please call Mark Montemayor (404-590-0784) or e-mail us at mark@thecourtstore.com with any comments or questions.