Competition Athletic Surfaces helped debut a bold new look for the U.S. Open that may create as much buzz at this year's tournament as the Williams sisters' ensembles or Andy Roddick's headgear.
The 2007 U.S. Open, set for August 27 through September 9, will feature blue inner courts and green outer courts, marking the first change of court colors since the event moved to Flushing, NY in 1978.
"Tournament officials and CBS -- which broadcasts the U.S. Open -- determined that the new color scheme helps players, spectators and TV viewers keep their eye on the ball," said Competition Athletic Surfaces vice president Lee Murray. "Besides offering better ball visibility, the blue and green courts will also serve as a signature for the U.S. Open Series, the six-week summer tennis season of 10 major American tournaments linked to the U.S. Open."
The US Open Series launched in 2004, and resulted in record attendance, TV viewership and live broadcast hours for the sport, according to U.S. Open officials. Television viewership was up over 50%, with regularly scheduled broadcasts on ESPN, CBS, NBC Sports, and The Tennis Channel. In total, the US Open Series events - - including the US Open - - generated a record 1.5 million attendees, 126 million TV viewers and over 15 million website visits, making it the strongest summertime property in sports.
Competition Athletic Surfaces became a player in this landmark change after DecoTurf, one the country's leading manufacturers of athletic surface materials, commissioned the Chattanooga company to resurface the Stone Mountain Tennis Center stadium court in Atlanta with the new colors.
"The Stone Mountain court was one of two test sites for the colors," Murray said. "DecoTurf asked us to do the job because they are familiar with the quality of our work and knew we would complete the assignment on time and to their specifications. It was extremely gratifying for DecoTurf to select Competition Athletic Surfaces for a job that would have such an enormous impact on the U.S. Open."Once the court was resurfaced with the blue and green colors, a CBS camera crew filmed Stone Center pros playing on the court in daylight and in the evening, Murray said. Later in New York, CBS and U.S. Open officials viewed the footage in reaching their decision to bring a new color scheme to the U.S. Open events.
"The new court colors have been tested and proven to enhance visibility of the ball for both players and fans," according to Arlen Kantarian, chief executive, professional tennis, U.S. Tennis Association. "In addition, it provides an instant visual link between the U.S. Open Series tournaments and the U.S. Open, helping to create a unified 'regular season' for tennis leading up to the U.S. Open."
DecoTurf officials point out that while clay courts and hard surface courts have been traditionally green, blue is actually closer to purple, the opposite of yellow on the color wheel. Consequently, the blue surface provides a higher contrast to the yellow tennis balls and thus improves visibility.
Murray said Competition Athletic Surfaces customers have already begun to ask about resurfacing their tennis courts in the U.S. Open color scheme, and he expects to hear from more of them after the games begin before a global audience in Flushing in August. Over the past five years, DecoTurf has been a major supplier for Competition Athletic Surfaces projects that include building, resurfacing and repairing tennis courts, running tracks and other athletic surfaces throughout the southeastern U.S.