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Wimbledon groundsman's diary - October

A member of the groundstaff works on the courts in the autumn
by William Brierley
Wednesday 31 October 2012

A member of the All England Club groundstaff will be writing regular blogs about the development of the courts throughout the year at Wimbledon...

October, well what can be said for October? I think it's easiest summed up in one word.....WET! This month has produced 78mm of rain and as such work has been very frustrating. Even on occasions when we've had a couple of dry days together the ground conditions have not been right to get on with the jobs we have wanted to.

That being said the courts are draining enough for us to be able to get on and mow still but after the long tiring effort of renovations a month of wet weather was not needed to help us complete the top-dressing of the last of the championships courts. Courts 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11 are still to be top dressed and hopefully if we get a dry week or so in the next month then we will complete them. Unfortunately dry weather is becoming scarcer getting into winter and soon we'll have the frosts to deal with too.

With frost forecast for last weekend it was of paramount importance to get the frost covers out on to the hard courts last week. The covers, from the company Stuart Canvas who also supply the covers for the tournament, are taken away and cleaned each year to be returned to us in the autumn ready to be put onto the courts if needed. Each of the eight hard courts has two covers, one for each half of the court.

On No.1 Court, No.2 and No.3 the covers are large and very heavy requiring at least 6 people to drag them out to cover the court but on courts 4 through to 8 we have a newer styled inflatable cover which have come in over the last couple of years. These covers are a lighter material with a thick net attached to the underside this is then Velcroed onto an inflatable tube which can easily be moved by once person. As soon as the first heavy frost is forecast then the courts will be covered and the five courts with inflatable covers are then used throughout the winter period. No.1 Court, No.2 and No.3 will only be used if we know that they are going to be needed e.g. for a tournament.

Now most of the summer members of staff have left us but as we still have some work to do we have kept seven on until the end of this month and then we will lose three of those but keep Conor Leach, Robert Muir, Alex Brierley and Darren Hazell until the end of November so that we will be able to crack on with work as soon as we get the right conditions. It will also help spread the work through the staff so as people aren't burnt out after, possibly, the busiest year for us we're likely to get. People are just now starting to take holidays and get breaks away from work one way or another.

Last month I said I’d get a short interview with our new head groundsman Neil Stubley but unfortunately it has not be possible to get the time where we were both free at the same time to do so with Neil being in many meetings and myself having time off work to move home this month. The questions have all been put to him now though and I hope to be able to add the finished interview in next month’s blog.

So as the nights draw in earlier and stay longer with the temperatures dropping I hope you all keep wrapped up warm and keep an eye out on the twitter because the grass doesn't stop growing and we'll still be out there maintaining and preparing the courts ready for 2013.

To see what Will and the rest of the groundstaff are up to on a daily basis, follow @WimboGroundsman for updates and pictures.


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