The Stuttgart tournament's conversion from clay to grass continues, with the announcement of an exhibition between John McEnroe and Michael Stich to open the courts next summer. Wimbledon.com checks in on their progress...
While the courts of the All England Club bed down for their winter hibernation, growing at a steady pace until the groundstaff begin cutting and mowing in the spring, elsewhere in Europe, some other grass courts are making steady progress too.
The three new grass courts at the TC Weissenhof, home to the MercedesCup, are taking happy shape as the tournament announced that they will be broken in next summer in an exhibition match between John McEnroe and Michael Stich.
The tournament, which will convert from a July clay court event to a June grass court event for the 2015 season, has redesigned and converted three of its clay courts to grass, growing the turf to the same specifications used at SW19.
"Firstly a 50cm high layer of soil had to be removed from each court . In total, we removed 1,200 cubic metres of soil material which we used to build natural stone terraces around Court 18" explains Managing Director Christian Engelmann.
Afterwards, a 15cm high base layer, a two-inch thick drainage layer and a 25cm high grass base layer were plotted according to the specifications of the AELTC.
"So that the soil structure corresponds exactly to that at Wimbledon, the last layer we have to analyze in a laboratory and compile it on the basis of the results achieved , "said Tournament Director Edwin Weindorfer.
The grass seed mixture, sown in October, is also the same as that used at Wimbledon. The first fertilization is planned for March, from which time the grass will be cut once or twice a week until it reaches the 'Wimbledon height' of 8mm.
If everything goes according to plan, the three grass courts will be available to play on by the club in June 2014, and on 7 July 2014, the day after the Gentlemen's Singles Final at Wimbledon, one of the courts, the 'Mercedes Court,' will be inaugurated by McEnroe and Stich, kicking off the tournament's last week on clay in style.
"The MercedesCup has played a major role in the Stuttgart sports events for decades. The switch to a grass tournament brings a whole new meaning to the MercedesCup, as well as the opportunity to be preparation for Wimbledon. I am very pleased that this has directed even more attention to this successful tournament and thus also to Stuttgart, "said Dr. Susanne Eisenmann , Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, Office of Arts, Education and Sports.
Richard Lewis, Chief Executive of the All England Club said: "We are very pleased to see the first stage of the building process of the new grasscourt facilities completed. Our cooperation with the organisers of the Mercedes Cup, Emotion and the Tennisclub Weissenhof has been excellent so far and we are glad that we have been able to contribute some of our know how and experience in the building of the new grass courts in Stuttgart."
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