I'm making a home tennis court out of an asphalt paved area. I've
already bought the net and posts. The specified concrete footing for
each tennis net post is a 30" square at the bottom, tapering up over a
height of 42" into an 18" diameter circle at the top. A drawing is at
Could I use 3/4" plywood to make a form strong enough to contain this
much concrete without blowing out or breaking? I think the bigger job
may actually be cutting out a big enough square out of the asphalt
(32"?) so I can then rent a 30" auger to dig 42" deep, cut the corners
out to a square with a shovel, and then drop the empty form in, and
somehow hold it down while pouring the roughly ton of concrete into
each one. After stripping the form, backfill with dirt and repair the
asphalt. Any suggestions for me? I'm thinking readymix concrete for
the little over 1 cubic yard I need to avoid all that mixing, and it's
probably cheaper than buying eighty 80" bags of concrete mix.
Go to local concrete supply place- they have premade plastic forms that
look like an upside-down cone.Dig the hole, put the form in, stick a
little rebar in, fill with concrete, insert post base, done. The form
stays in the hole. Lots less work than building a form, and with the
price of plywood these days, probably about as cheap. Still gotta patch
the hole, though.
I'm no tennis expert, but isn't most parking-grade asphalt a lousy court
surface? Not flat, not smooth, etc. The balls will bounce funny, etc. Or
are you going to put a sand bed and astro-turf/rubber mat surface above it?
Yeah, I'm no expert either, and this is at least a start. I don't
know how much use it will actually get; time will tell. The most
experienced person in my family has only 2 years of high school tennis
experience. But I understand that people do commonly use asphalt, and
the more rigorous people put something on top, such as some kind of
sanded latex coating or other surfaces.
As a lifetime tennis player, I would not want to play on most asphalt
surfaces. Before you put a lot of work into something that will
disappoint, I'd put up a makeshift net and play a few games. I doubt
you will like the unpredictable bounce.
Post a closeup photo of the roughest part of the surface in the
playing area. Put a tennis ball and a quarter in the photo for
Better yet, pour something small and spherical, like peas or BBs on
the surface and see how even that is. Taked a photo from the side.
Also, compare your surface with a local public court. I bet there's a
lot of difference. Even concrete courts are coated.
Someone suggested sand. I've played on courts that used sand. Hate
Sounds way over the top to me. It depends on your local ground
Hard rocky ground would need nothing like this. Your hole does not
have to be accurate. In fact if it'a bit irregular it helps. The
round bit on top is just for appearance. The whole purpose of the
exercise is to keep the post vertical when you tension the net. It's
an award amount of concrete. A lot to mix by hand and a small amount
to have delivered. You could eke out the concrete by adding stones/
other hard rubble at intervals as you fill the hole.
You don't need a form if you are digging a hole in the ground. I'd
just auger a 30" hole straight down and then fill it with concrete.
Having a slightly bigger top is not going to be an issue. Just set
the posts a little towards the insides.
As others say, I think you are overdoing it... The instructions (your
URL required some work to make it valid...) tell you what ideal should
be, but in all truth, if you followed their instructions the only
ideal thing you'd have was the cement. The rest of the court would be
questionable (flatness, quality of the surface, etc.)
I'd dig a cone shaped hole as they describe, 42" is not that bad. In
one similar job I did, I then took a heavy steel pipe (1 1/2", IIRC)
and pounded it into the earth at an angle towards the other side post.
That stiffened the entire thing so it never ever moved.
No form is necessary in the bottom of the footing. The earth retains the
That is if the earth does not cave in. It may, and just use extra concrete.
The most important part is holding the sleeve or the post vertical. That is
easily done with 1x4's and stakes.
A plywood form in the hole is unnecessary. jloomis construction and
Since I do not deal with frost issues, it may be for the freezing and also
what I figure the shape itself is heavier on the base and thus, like a
pyramid, more stable. When the cables are tightened the form is less likely
to pull over. This also depends on how well one pack the dirt around the
form too. It is not practical to dig a hole the shape of the cone......
You know, many fences and posts and poles are put in the ground for many
differing construction reasons. Some flag poles, some steel gate posts,
stop signs......etc. etc.
I would augher a deep hole.....36 to 48" and set a post in it well braced
and plumb and level, put some rebar in it if wanted......and pour it.
This is yet another construction detail concerning net and post. Resoning
given for shape of concrete in footing:
Section II.L. - Net and Net Post Equipment
1.0 Post Foundations
Post foundations should be not less than 18" in diameter at the top,
not less than 30" at the bottom, and not less than 42" in depth. An extended
concrete base at the bottom of the foundation, shaped like a foot pointing
in the direction of the opposing net post, will increase the foundation's
resistance to stress and strain of torque in the direction of force.
Foundations should be so constructed as to provide a distance of 33' on a
singles court and 42' on a doubles court, measured from center of post to
center of post. Concrete for foundations should use well-graded rock, gravel
or stone mixed in ratios attaining a compressive strength of not less than
3,500 lbs. per square inch at the 28th day after pouring. For asphalt
courts, the top of the concrete foundation should be round to prevent radial
2.0 Net Posts and Sleeves
Net posts may be galvanized steel or aluminum. They may be installed
in sleeves or installed permanently in foundations. Tennis post ground
sleeves may be steel, aluminum or PVC. Circular posts should have an outside
diameter of not less than 2 - 7/8", nor greater than 6", while square posts
should not be less than 3" across, nor greater than 6". The net post shall
project no more than 1" above the top of the net cord. Minimum yield
strength is 1,100 lbs., with a minimum of 1,500 lbs. tensile strength.
Mechanical tensioning devices (worm gear, ratchet reel, or screw-type) are
to be limited in the amount of force applied to the net post, not to exceed
1/2 post yield strength. Posts and post sleeves should be set 42' apart for
a doubles court, measured from the center of one post to the center of the
other. For tournament use, it is recommended that a second set of net post
sleeves be supplied 33' (center to center) apart for singles play. Posts
should be set plumb and true so as to support the net at a height of 42"
above the court surface.
3.0 Center Strap Anchor
The ground anchor should be made from a strong, non-corrosive metal
pipe not less than 10" in length, 1 5/8" o.d. minimum.
A non-corrosive 1/4" o.d. pin is centered through the pipe 1/4" to
3/8" below the opening for the purposes of attaching a center strap hook.
A center strap anchor should be set in concrete footings measuring 12"
x 12" x 12". The base of the footing should be slightly larger (15" x 15")
to avoid the possibility of heaving due to freeze/thaw action. The top of a
concrete footing set in an asphalt court should be round to minimize radical
cracking. The cross pin in the ground anchor should be flush with the court
and parallel to the net.
After taping big pieces of cardboard together to make a fullsize
mockup of the spec concrete footing (3 1/2 foot tall pyramid), I can
see it'd be quite an impressive mass that would do all the things you
have all mentioned. Thanks. And be a huge job. So now I'm looking
at using a guy wire to the top of the post to provide the resistance
to being pulled in (as volleyball nets and other applications do),
instead of that giant buried hunk of concrete. (I also printed out a
number of US patents for alternatives to buried footings for sports
nets. Some interesting ideas these people have had.) By modifying an
Oz-Post spike (a nice system for putting up fences and decks without
digging footing holes; I did a 600 foot wood fence with these a few
years ago), I might even be able to do this whole job with minimal, if
any, actual digging. The weight of the tennis post itself and half
the net is pretty small, less than 50 pounds, though if I use a guy
wire, that will end up pulling down on the post as well, adding to the
apparent "weight" needing to be supported. The angle of the guy wire
(its length to some kind of stake) determines this. The longer, the
less downpull, but I don't need people tripping over guy wires in my
yard. I'm mocking this up as well to see if guy wires can be lived
If you make the bottom wider than the top, you have something of an
anchor to prevent frost heave. It can't push out of the ground. I
was a little confused by the "upside down cone" mentioned earlier. I
believe you want to put it in "right side up" (wider base at the
bottom). That way when the ground shifts, it won't tilt or move.
But, as far as forms are concerned, I agree with the other poster that
they may not be necessary. If you dig a deep enough hole with a wide
base, it should be stable. Leaving forms in place after you pour the
concrete, or even having smooth sides on the concrete from forming,
may actually allow greater movement. Irregularities in the concrete
might help it to grip the earth better. Plus, if you are going to to
remove forms, you would have disturbed soil around it, which is less
stable for the post to anchor.
As far as I can tell now, the pyramid shape is so that sideways
expansion of the soil/ice mixture above the frost line can't get a
frictional grip on the sides and pull it upwards as the soil/ice also
expands upwards. It's like using your 2 hands to squeeze a telephone
pole from the sides to get a grip while trying to lift it out. If the
telephone pole were shaped like a pyramid instead you couldn't get a
grip because your hands would slip upwards on it. This is also why
smooth concrete like that formed with Sonotubes resists uplift better;
it's too smooth to get a grip on.
Burying the bottom below the frost line means no ice can form to push
straight up on the base.
The very wide base also provides structural resistance to tipping,
since for the pyramid to tip over, the base has to be pushed down on
one side. The bigger the base, the more difficult it is to push it
down, since this requires compacting the soil under that side.
I'm thinking that the guy wire would have to be tied to the top of a
stake driven into the ground at an angle, so the guy wire would be
pulling directly sideways on the top of the stake. I've heard they do
this with circus tents.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.