If you talk to Emanuel Fraitzl about the well-tended grounds of the MTTC Iphitos strolls, the managing director of the traditional Munich tennis club still notices subtleties that could be improved. Fraitzl feels obliged to offer Iphitos members an “oasis of well-being”. It is important for him to manage the balancing act to lead the very tradition-conscious club into the future. His key catchphrase for this is digitization.
Currently, however, other topics are increasingly in focus. Topics that are due to current world politics and climate change: the energy crisis and scarcity of resources. At the annual meeting of the “Leading Tennis Clubs of Germany”, an association of the largest German tennis clubs, these were also discussed recently at the Iphitos facility.
The most important signal that came from this meeting: “We have recognized the issues, are dealing with them and are aware of our social responsibility,” says Marc Tenbücken, board member of the MTTC Iphitos. There are no measures ready to be pronounced in this regard, but work is being done on it.
Blau-Weiss Graefelfing is not building its air dome this winter, but Grün-Weiss Graefelfing is
They also keep an eye on the current focal points at the Bavarian Tennis Association (BTV). Julia Höhn, Head of Club Advice and Development, says that the air domes are the main problem at the moment. Gas is needed to heat them – and the current gas prices are also causing concern for the clubs. A look at Graefelfing makes it clear how difficult the topic is. Höhn explains that Blau-Weiss Gräfelfing is not building its air dome this winter, while Grün-Weiss Gräfelfing is. Blue and white justifies its decision with the high gas consumption of the hall, green and white emphasizes that the air dome makes a social contribution because the trainers from the area can also offer tennis training. One town, two different approaches.
Very few tennis clubs can escape the issue of water shortages in summer. Höhn reports that numerous clubs are already wondering what they should do if next summer is so dry again and they may be forbidden to water the pitches. Immediate solutions are sought – but also long-term ones. You inevitably end up with the question of what the tennis court of the future actually is. Is that still the clay court given the current climatic conditions?
The problem is that the ideal alternative to the clay court is still missing, says Höhn. Granule floors are one variant, but that’s where the no less explosive topic of microplastics comes into play. An alternative court would be the hard court, but it is very expensive to buy, explains Höhn. She is part of a working group at the German Tennis Association (DTB), which is also trying to put pressure on the manufacturers to bring court variants onto the market that are no longer so irrigation-intensive. The dilemma with clay courts is that their subsoil will deteriorate if they are not watered properly in the summer.
Tenbücken is not so skeptical about hard courts as an alternative to clay courts. A hard court is more expensive to buy, but not necessarily to maintain, he says. If you look at the whole thing over a period of five or ten years, the result is a “completely different calculation”.
As a short-term solution, the BTV advises its clubs that have halls to install cisterns in order to collect the water for irrigating the pitches via the hall roof. Ideally, the cisterns should be big enough to store water for 14 days so that you can swing from one thunderstorm to the next.
clay court? hard court? Granules? Opinions differ as to which underground is best in times of crisis
The Iphitos board of directors also raises another question: With the climate that has meanwhile become drier, even in winter, do we really need that many indoor courts? Wouldn’t it be possible to play more outdoors on year-round pitches in the winter months – with the exception of the evening hours because of the earlier darkness? The community of the largest German tennis clubs also wants to initiate such debates.
In any case, the desire for tennis seems unabated despite the energy insecurity, for the upcoming winter round BTV has recorded more registrations than ever before. The mood at those clubs that have halls is still relatively good despite the energetic question marks, says Höhn. The tenor is: This winter it will still work out. In many places, the additional costs due to increased prices are also borne by the players – and in the worst case you can always turn off the heating. Höhn believes that indoor tennis can also be played at twelve degrees if necessary.