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Sport Court Outdoor Playroom
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

Pickle Ball can be played on a badminton court (20 by 44 ft) with the net low to the ground like in tennis. First trademarked about 20 years ago in the Puget Sound of Washington State, the racket game of Pickle Ball is played by two to four players using solid wooden paddles and a perforated, plastic ball about the size of a baseball. In fact, Pickle Ball is one of 15 court games played on a 35 ft by 65 ft Sport Court. Add acrylic backboards at both ends, and that court adapts to slam-dunk basketball?all in your own back yard.

?There is a trend of people putting these (courts) in their back yards in the North Dallas area,? said Mark Kundysek, with Sport Court. ?I?ve got a map at my office, and we?ve dotted every court that we?ve built in the last ten years. And there is this huge congregation of courts in University Park, Preston Hollow area, and all the way up to 635. And there are a few spread out in the northern part of Dallas and Plano.?

?Out of all the courts that we built in the area (at least 30 or more), there are only about two or three families for whom we?ve built tennis courts,? Kundysek said. ?We specialize in the backyard game court.?

Sport Court is a brand that custom builds courts to fit a family?s needs. Depending on lot size, the court will vary from a little 20 by 25 ft half court up to a 35 by 75 ft Sport Court game court?the U.S. Tennis Association calls it short tennis court (a regulation tennis court is 60 ft by 120 ft). You can also play four other racket sports on that one court.

In Wacketball, players use a regular tennis racket along with a vibrant foam ball that almost floats in the air.

?You hit the ball back and forth just like you do paddle tennis or sport court tennis,? Kundysek said. ?Wacketball is a lot better for the kids because it?s slower and it gives them time to run over and hit the ball. A lot of tennis coaches use Wacketball at an early age because kids can build confidence in their rackets.?

On a smaller court (25 by 25 ft), people primarily play basketball, some roller hockey, and hopscotch and foursquare for young children age two to six.

?As the kids get a little bit older, you take out the hopscotch and foursquare. It?s not a permanent thing,? Kundysek said. ?Or you might want to purchase one of our multi-use tennis re-bounders. The mom can go out and get a 15-20 minute workout playing solo tennis against the re-bounder. Or the son or daughter might practice soccer against the re-bounder or baseball or softball.? The re-bounder is a vertical frame that does not obstruct the view of your landscaping or the neighbors. But anything that you kick, throw, or hit against it rebounds back to you.

All costs are based on the features built into the court.

?We actually have an estimate form that literally line items every single item you want to order with a price next to it,? Kundysek. ?Say, for example, you and your family want to put in a court, and we?re over budget. We?ll say lets take off the re-bounder. That will free up some money to get you down to budget. Next year for Christmas, order your son or daughter that re-bounder system. We itemize everything so we can work with families either based on their budget or size of the yard.?

Lighting may also be an issue. Most people want lights, according to Kundysek. But getting the lights up is delayed in certain areas. In Highland Park, homeowners first need to obtain a permit for the court.

?At the same time, we apply for lighting, and put it (lighting) before the board,? Kundysek said. ?I?m sure it would help if the family would go from neighbor to neighbor. And if you can get eight neighbors right around your house saying we don?t mind (the lights). And you present that with your application, you have a good chance of getting your application approved.?

?But Highland Park also has another issue,? Kundysek said. ?They don?t want you to cover your lot with concrete.? Lots need (soil) for water drainage and foliage to absorb the water when it rains. If everybody started paving their lots, all the water would drain off into sewage and drains creating more flooding conditions. So, Highland Park enforces a code that only a certain percentage of a lot can be concrete.

The Sport Court tile is technically made out of a high impact polypropylene, in other words, a high-grade plastic that comes with a ten-year limited warranty.

?We go in the backyard; we level it, and we pour concrete base,? Kundysek said. ?Then we put the Sport Court interlocking tile on top of the concrete. Another problem in North Texas is the amount of shifting that we have in our soil. The ground has a certain percentage of clay or the type of soil that expands and contracts, and that?s what causes our concretes to crack and our tennis courts to crack. Sports Court tiles just snap together and lay on top (the concrete). They are not nailed, glued, or epoxy on in any way. When the concrete slowly shifts through out the years and cracks, the tile just floats on top. It doesn?t ruin the aesthetics of your backyard. It doesn?t ruin the playability of the sport like roller hockey, where a puck kind of glides over the tile.?

Old tiles can be replaced with new tiles or taken to another location, a rare but real possibility. Most of the time, the courts stay on the real estate.

?We always try to push the more conservative tennis court colors like green and burgundy and gray,? Kundysek said. ?They blend in the landscaping, and homes have a better resale value.? Still, Sport Court customizes?for instance a Texas Tech or a Baylor University theme court. And new tiles for new games are being developed?the latest is the chess and checker tiles. For the golfer, how about the Sport Court putting green?an irregular 15 ft by 30 ft (400 sq ft) spread of Astroturf with an eight-year warranty.

Looking ahead, Kundysek might be willing to try the new permeable concrete linings that are just appearing on the market?that is if homeowners want a Sport Court where drainage is an issue.

?It is a product that you can pour out like concrete,? Kundysek said. ?But when you pour water on it, it drains right through to the dirt underneath. It?s the weirdest thing I?ve ever seen.?

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
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