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TENNIS


Getting the courts in Olympic order A


NEIL STUBLEY – HEAD GROUNDSMAN AT THE AELTC


s soon as the Wimbledon men’s final is over we’ll be on the court. Normally near the end of


the tournament courts start shutting down and we liaise with the referee’s office to find out which ones we can start working on. This year we will be targeting the


Olympic courts first. The stadium courts are in play until the last day, so we can’t get to them until the Mon- day after the tournament. We’ll be reseeding the bare areas with pre-ger- minated seed and liquid nutrients and hopefully the turf will take five or six days to grow back. We’re hoping Mother Nature will be


kind to us during the championships: mild, dry and the occasional cloud cov- er – as hot weather stresses the grass. We usually have a month to get the


courts ready before inter-club tour- naments start at the AELTC, but this year we only have 20 days. However,


the groundskeeping team is up for the challenge and we’ve been working to- gether to come up with ideas. Over the past two years we’ve done


dozens of trials with different seed amounts, fertilizers and grass rates to see which will work best. As the weather has been wet, the


grass courts haven’t been opened, so they have had more protection. During the championships we’re in the hands of the weather, so we watch the fore- cast closely to work out how much to water the courts. We’re always micro managing. We have less of a window than we


usually have, but we’ll be working alongside all the other teams, chang- ing the canvases, the scoreboards and the cabling, so it will be exciting. This is my 18th championships, so it’s


brilliant to have something different happening afterwards and to be pre- paring courts for the Olympic Games.


Neil Stubley worked with former head groundsman Eddie Seaward


The change of colour will be one of


the major defining points, and one which might make the old guard twitchy. The traditional Wimbledon purple and green livery will also be exchanged for the beige, purple and red Games Maker uniforms, which will be used by venue personnel across the Olympic venues. “One of the club’s sayings, which


makes me laugh, is that if it doesn’t move


Just 12 of the AELTC’s 19 courts will be used during the Olympic and Paralympic tennis events


they paint it green,” says Wood. “There is a lot of green around the club and we’re trying as much as we can to change that. I can’t give too much away about the look and feel, but we’ll be replacing a lot of the backdrops around the courts. People will get a blast of colour, which is completely different from what they’re used to seeing. In essence, we’re keeping the iconic status of the club, but we’re


overlaying our look and feel as much as we can, through colourful backdrops, the Olympic rings and London 2012 logos.”


OLYMPIC FANFARE While all kinds of razzmatazz are shunned during the Wimbledon fort- night, the Olympics will embrace it. At Wimbledon no player gets an introduc- tion – not even for the finals – however all players will be introduced at the Games. Each player, win or lose, will also have to face the media before they get back to the locker room, by passing through the media mix zone. The London 2012 sports presentation


department is responsible for the enter- tainment around the sport, which will add to the atmosphere. Before matches there will be music and video screens, highlighting the history of the Games, and sports information for spectators. “We’re well prepared. We’ve done all


we can to get to this point,” says Wood. “The only thing we can’t control is the weather. However, we’re on schedule to control just about everything else in this iconic venue and will deliver the best event we possibly can.” ●


56 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital Issue 3 2012 © cybertrek 2012


PIC: © AELTC


PIC: © AELTC


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