Tales from the Wimbledon groundstaff – July

Head Groundsman designate Neil Stubley updates us on what’s been going on around the Grounds in July…

“The Championships was very good from our point of view. Exactly what we wanted. A bit of rain, a bit of sun, and it finished on time.
We got some good feedback on the courts, and about the roof as well. All the players that played under the roof were really happy, Federer played under it for the first time and said it was good. So if it’s good enough for him we’re more than happy.

Centre Court

A closer look at Centre Court

Once the final had finished, we had 24 hours grace where we collect players chairs and just make sure that all the covers have pulled off irrigation heads, and then on the Tuesday, for 2pm we had to have grass courts available for members. So within 36 hours of The Championships we had 10 courts cut and marked and prepped ready for the members. The only thing is, once The Championships has finished, we are governed by the weather. We don’t cover the courts for the members. So if it rains, the grass courts are out of action. The members put in the odd request but they tend to be happy with any of the courts.

Centre Court isn’t used by the members. We weed killed it, which took a week to take effect, and then we start on the renovation programme, growing the grass from scratch. It’s a total weed killer, it will kill the grass and everything, and then we start from scratch. We do the same to No.1 and No.2 Courts maybe No.3 Court. Given the choice we’d do them all. But because you have to leave it 10 days, we don’t really have that window of opportunity to leave them before we have to work on them.

Centre Court

The grass being removed from Centre Court

Aorangi Park though is closed. As soon as The Championships is finished, Aorangi is closed down and we renovate the baselines, get some seed down, cover them up. Because in August we have seven weeks of tournaments at Aorangi – the Vets Championships, which is a 22 grass court tournament, and then the HSBC Road to Wimbledon. There’s also the Inter-services competition between the Army, Navy, RAF, and then plus members courts and matches at weekends.

But we’ve also got the hard courts back in action once all the marquees were taken down, so there are plenty of options for the members to play on.

As far as our team goes, we’ve still got 26 guys working, which will startdropping off slowly from August onwards. The Aussie guys have to go back for 1 September because it’s their season starting there. We get them for their close season. And then we have college students. We normally keep hold of two-three until the end of October.

Alexandra Willis

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