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Wimbledon Groundsman's Olympics diary - day one

Fans enjoy the performance on the Big Screen stage
by William Brierley
Saturday 28 July 2012

The famous tweeter @WimboGroundsman will be writing a daily diary during the Olympic tennis, talking about courts, players and more...

Welcome to the Olympic Tennis event of the London 2012 Games.

Here we are just a mere 20 days since Roger Federer was crowned Wimbledon Champion for the SEVENTH TIME!, and we have a whole new ball game at SW19.

In the time since The Championships we’ve been tasked with getting the 12 match courts back to pre-Championship standard in time for the first round of games today. The whole team are very pleased with the way the courts look at the start of play.

Our role doesn’t change from that of The Championships. It’s a 7:30 start to take off the covers and get the courts dry in time for play, then its off to courts to mow and mark. The rest of the day is filled with everybody’s favourite Wimbledon past time, waiting on the rain. Luckily today the sunshine is out and it looks like a dry day in store. Most of the ground staff are based in Centre in readiness to remove court furniture and cover if it does come on to rain. I, along with three other groundsmen, am based in No.1 Court with 17 court coverers.

As today is the start of the tournament there is a little treat up on the hill for the members of public and staff alike so we head up there to find music kicking in from the sound system, at around 11am up jumps a girl followed by large groups of other girls and guys and they kick in to a dance routine. Members of the public look around in astonishment and amazement as the dancers strut their stuff. As the music dies down two guys appear on the stage and introduce themselves as The Pet Shop Boys, they’re here to play us three songs starting with Always On My Mind and finished with Olympic Written and Inspired Winners. Now we don’t get that usually here at Wimbledon.

11:30 and it's time to dress No.1 Court for the day's play - four lots of singles matches. Olympic rings have been added to the net at both ends. Then play starts on the two main show courts and thanks to the sunshine it looks like a good day ahead. With no rain in the area I decide to take a walk around the grounds and the first thing that hits me is how much quieter it is than a normal Championships day.

I walk from the hill down to No.2 Court checking on all the matches going on and then into No.2 to see how the baselines are and my marking is after a few matches. After a set I head back up towards the hill, via Court 10 which is in for practice only where the Murray brothers are practising ready for their doubles match later in the day, and I notice a marked rise in the number of people in the grounds.

So now we are at the third round of games and it seems like the day will have gone off pretty smoothly and we can see some more of the Olympic spirit on show around site today.

See you tomorrow and hopefully the sun will stay with us.


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