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Groundsman's diary: Hello sunshine

Marking the lines on the southern courts
by William Brierley
Wednesday 1 May 2013

AELTC groundsman Will writes regular blogs about the development of the courts throughout the year at Wimbledon. Here's his April update...

Here we are just eight weeks out from the tournament, its unbelievable how quickly it seems winter ended and The Championships are approaching. After a long winter of horrible weather it makes a nice change to be writing about sunshine and back being busy.

This month we have taken on our summer temporary staff that are contracted from April to September, this year we only have three returning temps so we welcome back Alex, Matt and Conrad. In addition we welcome Owen, Oli, Robin, Daniel, Stan, Tom, Andrew, Maria and Jordan; we hope they'll all enjoy the experience of working in our team and getting stuck into all the work pre and post Championships.

So what have we been up to this month? Well the sunshine and a spring and summer fertiliser has certainly stimulated growth in the grass plants and the density of the swards has thickened up. We have been mowing a lot more frequently and have dropped the height of cut from 13mm down to 11mm and again down to 10mm. This week we will look to drop the height of cut again to 9mm which will leave us just 1mm away from the desired height of cut for The Championships.  

With the height of cut coming down it was possible for us to give a light top dressing to No.2 Court and Court 4 to improve the levels as they are the two courts with drainage issues.  Today we are starting to paint the lines onto the courts in readiness for the opening of the grass courts on 11th May and by the end of this week we’ll aim to have all of The Championships courts that will be in play completed.

We have also rolled the courts with our one ton rollers to help consolidate the profile and firm up the courts to get a good ball bounce.  The courts are looking very nice at the moment and one of the main jobs now is keeping them that way which involves frequent edging and weed killing around the courts. Also cutting around the post sockets and sprinkler heads to keep the courts pristine.  The lighting rigs in Centre and No.1 have both been taken down and stored away for the summer as have the electric fences from the stadium courts.

From now on it’s going to be a lot of mowing and marking as the courts go from disused blocks of grass into the courts fit for the worlds’ best players to come and ply their trade for three weeks.  We look forward to the courts going back into use as that is what we work towards all year around. We hope you’ll soon enjoy the courts on your TVs as we watch in anticipation for the Wimbledon Champion 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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