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Groundsman's diary: Move on May

The Aorangi practice courts in May
by William Brierley
Friday 31 May 2013

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

It’s been a busy month for us here getting ready for The Championships and we also had the opening of the grass courts for the Members in the early part of the month. Now it’s the end of May and Roland Garros kicked off just short of a week ago, this puts us less than a month away from Wimbledon 2013. While we are ending the month with a few rainy days, in the main, it has been a very productive month bringing the courts up to peak condition for The Championships.

At the start of the month the courts were being mown at 9mm but now we are down to 8mm tournament height and the guys have been issued their courts that will be their responsibility for the next six weeks. Every two or three Championships courts now have a dedicated team that will consist of one person to mow their courts, one to mark and one to help out the marker with the string line and mopping the transfer lines from the mower. I’ll be marking out my usual two courts, No.2 Court & Court 12, plus Court 8 for this year. Each job has equal significance and goes towards making the courts look pristine for the cameras come 24th June.

During the month what have we done to get the courts ready to perform as best as they can? Well as I already said the height of cut has come down and mowing is happening on a regular basis of every other day, this will help with the presentation of the court but also with the speed of play. The less grass for the ball to grip on the faster it will come off the surface. The courts have also been rolled to consolidate the profile of the court making it firmer and evenly flatter thus making the surface better for ball bounce. As you would of seen in last months’ blog the courts were being pegged out and now that job has been finished also with the stadium courts (Centre, No.1, No.2, No.3) being the last to be done. So this has meant that the courts have been marked out quite a few times now and the lines are ready for both the line umpires and hawk-eye to judge whether the ball is in or out. The other vital job that is occurring is spraying the courts. We are currently on our program with a tank mix that encourages lateral growth of the grass plant rather than vertical growth to give a better sward density, it gets a feed into the plant to keep it healthy, there is iron to keep the colour consistent and an amino acid supplement to help with the roots to get a strong sward that will hopefully not kick out too easily. We have also sprayed for weeds and disease in order to get the surface looking as good as possible.

So now we are hoping that this rain that has been around for the last few days will go away and leave us with a nice June and early July as we will have players turning up in three weeks to start their practice ready for the main event.

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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