Breaking New Ground: the Evolution of Har-Tru
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How did the world’s most well-known clay court company come to sponsor one of the largest U.S. Open Series tournaments? A 90-year journey has taken Har-Tru from old-school beginnings to the modern world of tennis.
Henry Alexander Robinson built the first Har-Tru court in 1931. He had discovered a granular crushed stone he thought would make a great tennis court surface. He was right. His wife named the company by combining Robinson’s initials (HAR) with the court’s true (TRU) green color and bounce.
The brand emerged as a leading player in the tennis industry. From the 1940s onward, Har-Tru courts became a staple in clubs and private homes throughout the U.S. The tennis boom of the early 1970s led to an explosion in demand for Har-Tru courts, propelling the brand to global recognition.
Beginning in the late 1980s, a flurry of product development helped grow the company – and by extension, the sport of tennis. The HydroCourt underground watering system was a technological breakthrough that significantly reduced maintenance and water costs for clay courts, breathing new life into the market. That system would make its way to Wimbledon in 2005, where several Har-Tru HydroCourts are still actively used.
The company kept up a non-stop push to innovate its courts, products, and services. They began making maintenance products such as rollers, drag brushes, and line sweepers. They added a facility analysis survey and consulting service. They formed an intense partnering effort with court contractors, which is still the basis of the company today. They expanded into the Chinese tennis market.
It’s no surprise then that Har-Tru’s zeal for tennis didn’t stop at clay courts. Continuing its legacy of innovation, the company expanded its tennis portfolio by creating a new line of hardcourt coatings. Launched in 2017, Har-Tru Sports Coatings have quickly grown from small-batch acrylics to the surface of choice for major tournaments, clubs, and university athletic programs.
Like the famous green clay, Har-Tru’s coatings are manufactured in a facility in Troy, Virginia. Working with industry chemists and application experts, they engineer acrylics to meet a variety of situations encountered on a high-performance playing surface. The pigments are 100% organic, creating a more vibrant color and having a lower environmental impact.
This summer, the iconic Citi Open of Washington, D.C. unites with the historic Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. The Mubadala Citi DC Open is set to be one of the key tournaments on the global tennis calendar. Har-Tru Sports Coatings will be the official playing surface. The DC courts will come alive in Championship Blue and Green, crafted to meet the tournament’s specific pace ratings.
From the clay courts of the 1900s to the hardcourts of the Mubadala Citi DC Open, Har-Tru’s legacy is a continuous pursuit of improvement in court building and technology. The company demonstrates a commitment to meeting the evolving demands of the court by making hardcourt surfaces, hybrid courts, specialty equipment, consultation systems, and of course, their classic clay.
Har-Tru is more than just another brand; it’s a cornerstone of tennis history and a driving force for the sport’s future.