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Wimbledon groundsman's diary - August

Centre Court covered and re-sown for the autumn
by William Brierley
Tuesday 21 August 2012

The famous tweeter @WimboGroundsman will be writing regular blogs about the development of the courts throughout the year at Wimbledon...

So the Olympics has come and gone in the blink of an eye and didn’t Team GB do well! Third place in the medals table with 29 of those being Gold, including one won here at SW19 by a certain Andy Murray. He also took a silver medal in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson. But now it’s all over and the euphoria is dying down and it’s back to the real world and for us, already four weeks behind our normal renovation period, the hard work to get the courts ready for next year begins.

What does your autumn renovation program entail? What do you do to the courts now? What do the groundstaff do for the 11 months in between The Championships? These are all questions we tend to hear around this time of year. People sometimes don’t realise we are a fully functioning members' club as well as hosts to The Championships. As such our work here is never done and hopefully through these blogs we’ll be able to give people a greater understanding of the work needed to keep Wimbledon as the premier tennis venue in the world.

The Monday morning after the Olympics is finished the team are all back in for 8am and the day's main job for the next two days is to start taking down the canvas around Centre, 1, 2, 3, and 14 through to 19 so that the renovation can begin in earnest on Wednesday. The canvas and iron work around the courts is all bundled up and put into containers to be taken away. The wall at the south end of Centre is taken down and the roof is moved to the northern end to allow for better light to get to the court. These jobs are essential but not too hard to allow the team a little bit of rest after the long summer and before the serious work of renovating.

Wednesday comes and it’s time to start the renovations. We have in some new toys, a new tractor and 2 new koro units as well as some scarifying blades that can be switched into the koro units when needed. We start on Court 14 so we can test the new koro out before going onto any of the show courts. The new modifications to the machine make it much easier to use and we can strip a court in one run rather than two which we have done in previous years so we are hopeful that we should be able to get through the work a bit quicker.

The Koro is the machine we use to strip the top layer of the court off, we usually take the top half inch off the courts. This is done in order to remove any weed grasses that have crept into the sward throughout the season and also to get the levels of the courts back from where intense wear has occurred.

After the top layer is taken off then the court is scarified in two directions in order to remove any little undulations and create a seedbed for the new grass seed to key into. The court is then seeded, fed, covered and watered. The cover then stays on for 5 to 7 days, long enough for the seed to germinate but not too long that disease starts to develop.

The courts are then left to grow and what happens next will come in the next blog.  For now we will be continuing with the renovation of the other Championship courts of which we’re already nearly a third of the way through.

Remember for regular updates of how it’s all going the twitter feed (@WimboGroundsman) will have daily updates. 


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