- Written by: Camila Osorno
- Produced by: James Logan
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
It takes a passionate family of experts to build the perfect sports surfaces, which the Smith family perfected in the 1970s. Kevin Smith founded The CourtSmiths in the early 1970s, paving the way for sons Pete and Mike Smith. The Smith family has left an imprint on the sport court construction industry by mastering the craft of building any surface of tennis court. Over the course of a half-century the Smiths have established a sterling reputation by prioritizing the client’s needs and using the most sophisticated techniques and technologies available to deliver a court that can withstand years of wear and tear.
“My dad started the company because he just loved tennis,” says Mike, president of The CourtSmiths. “I officially started working here running crews at the age of 16. So I really grew up in the business,” he chuckles. Mike and Pete have 70 years of combined industry experience, allowing the family-owned and -operated company to really thrive.
The company is based out of Toledo, Ohio, and employs roughly 14 full-time professionals to install tennis courts across the state and into Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana. The team can field requests for any type of court from traditional clay courts to paved asphalt courts. Like many passions, the Smith family didn’t shift gears to focus exclusively on building tennis courts until 1985.
Before founding the company, Kevin picked up a passion for tennis in his 40s when a neighbor introduced him to the sport. That neighbor had once been the top player at the University of Notre Dame, and the Smith family admits there was no going back once the tennis bug had bitten. The CourtSmiths had primarily specialized in asphalt paving and occasionally handled the odd tennis court request was split off in 1985, leaving the Smith family to channel all of its energies to perfect the art of sport court construction.
The Smith family’s personal passion for the sport helped the company stay on top of industry trends and re-emerging technologies in the court construction industry. Eventually Kevin helped develop the Tennis Constructors certification program and eventually became the president of the organization that later became the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA). The association honored him with the Industry Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000. In addition, Pete now serves as ASBA’s tennis division’s president.
The CourtSmiths’ expertise has helped fuel the company’s evolution as an expert in tennis court construction. The company continues to take a collaborative approach to building every court, public or private. The team has worked with an array of products over time for both hard and soft surface courts and can recommend a solution with wholehearted confidence in its long-term performance. The CourtSmiths’ team can work with clients to provide a design for the court and oversee construction as the general contractor on the project. The CourtSmiths will even build clay courts with underground irrigation systems, putting greens, basketball courts and latex running tracks.
A History of High Performance
“We handle everything from new court construction to rehabilitating old courts,” says Mike. The cold Midwest winters dictate that all new court construction and major rehabilitation projects take place during the warmest nine months of the year, but The CourtSmiths are anything but inert during the remaining three months. When not actively building or rehabilitating courts, the company’s team stays busy fielding requests for smaller repairs and maintenance projects.
The CourtSmiths have amassed a portfolio of completed work that spans both public and private institutions, a number of country clubs as well as private residences. In 1991 The CourtSmiths were called upon to serve the country by installing tennis courts at the White House for President George H.W. Bush, which have since been repainted and removable basketball hoops added for full court basketball games.
Of course it takes a team work ethic to build a providentially endorsed court, and The CourtSmiths have a support network in place to call in extra help. “We have a group of pavers and fencing specialists in different areas that we work with, because we need the job to get done right,” asserts Mike.
Setting the Pace
Having a set network of contacts in place is especially crucial in years like 2012 that bring exceptionally mild winters and a small boom in new court construction. The CourtSmiths completed a project for the University of Toledo installing state-of-the-art Nova ProBounce courts, a densely fibered turf developed with a high-performance waterproof backing for all-weather use. The court is built in layers to reduce stress on the body’s joints while delivering the perfect bounce that professional tennis players count on, but the product has also proven itself resistant to cracking over time.
Though recent years have brought an increase in maintenance and repair requests with fewer new construction projects, The CourtSmiths will stay busy through 2012. The company has projects lined up for the University of Toledo and Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio, which is wrapping up work on a new recreation center that includes a running track and four multipurpose courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball.
The Smith family has always run The CourtSmiths guided by a personal passion for tennis and an ingrained sense of teamwork. As new technologies for court construction are refined, it will be company’s experience and willingness to embrace new technologies that keep The CourtSmiths ahead of the competition.
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