Wimbledon 2012: race against time for groundsmen on hallowed courts

Editorin Tennis

From today the groundsmen responsible for maintaining Wimbledon's hallowed turf in perfect condition are beginning their biggest test in the 144 year history of the club.

They are facing a race against time to get the courts back into their customary pristine state between the end of Wimbledon fortnight and the opening of Olympic Games next month.

It is the first time Wimbledon has hosted two major international tournaments on such a scale in such quick succession and the first Olympic matches will begin just 20 days after the end of the championships.

Even while the tournament is under way millions of new grass seeds will be starting to grow before they are planted in the ground.

As soon as the trophies are given out the 28-strong team of groundsmen will be preparing to plant the pre-germinated seeds into the courts to restore the scuffed surfaces.

Traditionally the courts are entirely stripped down, soaked and aerated before before new grass is sown.

It is then carefully tended with each blade gradually allowed to grow to a height of 14mm. It is then gradually reduced to exactly 8mm in a painstaking process over many months to avoid it going yellow in a process timed to take a year.

The head groundsman Eddie Seaward has spent the last two years experimenting with new techniques to restore the scuffed lawns in time.

For Mr Seaward, 68, it will be the biggest test in his 20 years at the club - enabling him to retire.

Although Wimbledon has been used for David Cup matches shortly after the tournament in the past, the Olympics will be on a much larger scale.

A total of 12 Wimbledon courts will be used for matches and seven for practice.

The groundsmen will also be making a little bit of history on a smaller scale on the hallowed courts this year - by trying out their first ever electric lawnmower.

The new Toro mower will be tried out on Court Number Two as part of a plan to reduce Wimbledon's carbon emissions by phasing out petrol mowers.

Article Surced from the Telegraph

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