Resource Management Good Water Usage Conservation Essays     Eco-Solutions

Green Tennis is Cool!

A few years ago I walked into the International Tennis Hall of Fame carrying a huge Forest Hill trophy celebrating four national championship wins. I asked the receptionist, "I bought this at a thrift store. Is it worth anything?" I was delivering some donated trophies for my dear friend and mentor, Pauline Betz Addie, a former World Champion.

Over the years Pauline and I have shopped in many a thrift store always looking for a great deal. Finding ways to save money and protect our earth at the same time is both a big and a great deal. It's cool to lessen our environmental impact.

For thirty-five years, I have been a tennis instructor and am passionate about conservation. I have participated in recycling everything (tennis balls, computers, paper, oil, antifreeze, filters light bulbs, etc.) and have assisted in developing numerous environmental programs all over the country. There are many similarities to playing tennis and showing respect for this planet reaping many "happy returns."

I first learned tennis at playgrounds in Washington DC. For a good part of my life, I have been involved in all aspects of recycling. I understand how pollution prevention profits my region.

We can all become better stewards of our environment. This is as simple as learning how to correctly toss a tennis ball by looking exactly where wish to make it go. The only difference is we aim to minimize our waste and prevent pollution. In recovery there is always discovery. When we look to where things go, we learn much. Let's develop a straight serve toss and aim to save in our ultimate match, living on this fragile planet.

Tennis and revolutions have a long history. Taken on a tennis court near the Palace of Versailles during the French Revolution, "The Tennis Court Oath"(serment du jeu de paume) was a solemn collective vow by French deputies to continue to meet until a constitution had been written, despite a royal prohibition to do so. Today an even more violent revolution is happening: seemingly irreversible and dramatic climate change impacting the health and well being of life.

People who enjoy tennis can all lessen their impact through three key "R" actions:
  • "Reduction" of pollutants.
  • "Reuse" of resources.
  • "Recycling" of waste.
Environmental initiatives such as energy and water conservation and using renewable energy vary similar to how each person may hit the ball—different strokes for different folks. The key is not to poke at it but to stroke it and really get into the swing of things. The more tennis shows that it cares to conserve, the greater it may attract people to our game.

As we become more mindful and lessen our ecological impact, the more we become champions. For example, exploring new lighting products can prevent pollution as well as lessen our electric bill.

The tennis industry can certainly benefit by implementing measures that support more sustainable and renewable energy, minimize the use of raw materials, and reduce ecological damage. Just look at what they are doing at All England Tennis Club


Tennis clubs can undertake simple energy audits to better protect and insulate their structures. Some resorts have made investments that promote renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, e.g. Vail and Jackson Hole are great examples:

Another area is lighting. Lighting consumes up to 20% of our home energy use and up to 30% of our workplace electricity expenditure. Changing to more efficient lighting must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. For example, Light-Emitting Diode (LED) is a 45-year-old technology that delivers no heat output and an average of 32 lumens of light, and LED bulbs burn about 50 times as long as the average incandescent bulb. Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Waste

Did you know that most tennis balls are made out of recycled rubber and that asphalt is the leading recycled product in the U.S. with an impressive 80% recycling rate? Innovative procurement of environmentally friendly products can lessen waste by bulk purchase of products made from recycled materials or reused and refurbished goods. While making recycling easier by collecting all recyclables into one receptacle can increase participation, it can also increase contamination. Separating items is the key, and there are many types of successful recycling programs all over the U.S. demonstrating they can be simple as well as cost-effective. Did you know more people recycle then vote?

Many tennis facilities recycle beverage containers and paper. Expanding these enterprises to include greater tonnage materials and the disposal of toxins—computers, fluorescent bulbs, paints, cleaners, etc. is a great next step. Creating attractive opportunities to recycle in an uncomplicated manner should also be explored. Proper design, planning, and implementation require good materials and skillful communications in order to muster public support.

Lawn Care

Lawn management design makes a huge difference because collectively our lawns—home, business, or sporting venues—impact significantly on water bodies. If you rely on a lawn service to maintain your lawns or use a landscaper, please request them to become more mindful of good conservation practices and help them become better stewards.

In proper lawn management, grass clippings do not need to be removed from the lawn. This is termed "grass cycling." However, if grass clippings are collected and composted, they should be mixed with other yard waste to provide bulk and a proper ratio of two important plant nutrients, carbon and nitrogen (C/N). Otherwise, the clippings may compact and restrict airflow in the compost pile and cause unpleasant odors as well as noxious bacteria.

Improper lawn maintenance can result in excessive lawn fertilization and is a significant source of nutrient pollution to our water bodies. Developing and implementing home nutrient-reduction strategies is critical. Better-managed lawns would reduce the amount of excess nutrients entering our water bodies and improve water quality.

Landscape Design

Savvy tree planting with good environmental planning can help reduce runoff and save on cooling costs to your home or workplace. Xerescaping or designing gardens that minimize water use is another option.

Other Opportunities

Water conservation is becoming essential in more arid locations and facilities are exploring new low-water consumption technologies. Such emerging technologies include underground watering for soft courts, waterless urinals, and water flow restrictors on showerheads and taps. Also water reuse is becoming popular where recycled water is used for lawn irrigation or water barrels used to collect roof rainwater.

Some Examples

In Bethesda, Maryland Edgemoor Club, where Pauline and I both taught, members have become interested in expanding their conservation efforts. Many facilities recycle, use energy conservation appliances: Energy Star, and employ water conservation efforts because it helps their bottom-line. A further example: The Sportsmen's Tennis Club, an inner city indoor/outdoor facility where this New England club shows a long and proud tradition of environmental responsibility In, England, the Elliott Tennis Courts has considered the impact of its services and activities on the environment, and undertakes to assist clients to comply,

Going Forth

There are many other ways to conserve, and become green tennis players. The suggestions above offer just some beginning ideas. There are many actions that can be taken now either by yourself, or at your club or public park. Also, when you play tennis you can be more ingenious in how you expend energy and waste less. The more tennis players who awake to becoming lean and green, the healthier our game will grow. Give your best and enjoy the many "happy returns" as you benefit yourself and our world by becoming cooler!

Rob Arner has been a USPTA member since 1983 and teaches at Bryce Resort. He lives in Edinburg, Virginia celebrating the 75 th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He welcomes comments and further examples at Also contact for what in your area you can do.

Copyright Rob Arner - All Rights Reserved.
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