No Olympic seeds of doubt in SW19

Editorin Tennis

wimbledon pic Wimbledon fortnight. It's a phrase which rolls off the tongue around Britain, conjuring up images of long summer days, strawberries and cream and flag waving Andy Murray fans.

Only this year there will be three weeks of top-class tennis in SW19 for the Olympics are coming to town.

In fact the Olympic tennis tournament starts on July 28 - just 20 days after the men's singles champion of Wimbledon 2012 has lifted the trophy aloft on Centre Court.

By then baselines across the All England Club will be bare and it will be time for a groundstaff of 32 to go to work.

Officials insist the courts will be back in perfect condition come July 28 with no sign of the wear and tear that the likes of Novak Djokovic, who famously ate a blade of the famous grass after his win last year, and Maria Sharapova will have inflicted.

So just what will happen during that crucial 20-day period?

Well, as senior groundsman Neil Stubley explains, things will actually start before the end of the annual championships.

"The biggest challenge is not getting the court green again. It's germinating the seed and getting it on court as soon as possible so the root gets down into the soil," he says.

"Take Centre Court. On the last Friday, men's semi-finals day, a team of our staff will start germinating the seed in a big tub. They will tip in some amino acids with water - as hot as your hand can take.

"The tub gets filled up and the seed is kept in for two hours. The liquid is then drained off and the seed is left in the tub for another 48 hours.

"When we see a little white spot at the tip of the seed it comes out of the tub and gets put on the bare areas of the court.

"We spray some liquid fertilizer over the court and should keep the temperature high if possible.

"That's probably happened on the Monday after the Championships and by the Friday or the Saturday (less than a week later) we'd expect grass about 2mm high to have regenerated.

"Then it's about managing that grass, getting it established and then keeping it healthy."

The grass required for play is 8mm high and for the Olympics 12 courts will be needed, as opposed to 19 for Wimbledon itself.

Given the Games were awarded to London back in 2005 - and the decision taken to stage the tennis at Wimbledon soon after - the groundstaff have had plenty of chances to practise and nothing has been left to chance.

Stubley, who will take over at the club's head groundsman after the Olympics, adds: "We've been doing trials for the last two years to find the best way of germinating the seed.

"We've had the opportunity to play around and trial it so know what to expect and know it will be the right process."

Any chance 2012's awful weather so far will disrupt things? Apparently not.

Stbley adds: "Ideally you want the air temperature high, but it was 18/19 (degrees Celsius) last year but even then the plan worked."

The Olympics will, however, delay the regular repair work on some of the other courts which usually takes place post-Wimbledon.

In total there are 41 grasscourts at the venue. Regularly available for use by the club's members during the summer, they are gradually taken out of action in the weeks and months after the championships, the staff "starting from scratch", shaving the grass off and levelling the soil.

They come back into play in May - few know that the championship courts are played on by members right up until the Friday before Wimbledon gets under way.

While the groundstaff are confident about their ability to get the courts back to their brilliant best in less than three weeks, of more concern will be the logistics of revamping the entire venue, transforming it from Wimbledon to Olympic mode.

Out will go Wimbledon's traditional purple and green livery to be replaced by the pink and light green look of the Olympics - you will likely have seen the colours on the London 2012 logo.

"It's exciting for the groundstaff, we've been speculating how the grounds will look," says Stubley.

"Normally all the players have to wear white, for example. For the Olympics they can wear what they want.

"There will be different logos to be displayed for TV and stuff.

"For the Olympics there will be a completely different look and feel. The suppliers, the corporate sponsors are completely different - and it's all got to be done within 20 days.

Article sourced from Sporting life .com

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