July Tennis Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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Recent weather conditions have been very favourable for grass tennis, long sunny, drying days that have promoted hard firm courts. Dave Lawrence, Head Groundsman at Nottingham Tennis Centre, could not have been happier with how his courts played during the recent championship tournaments preceding Wimbledon. But, more importantl,y it was how they held up that mattered.

This year he has seen very little wear and managed to keep plenty of grass on the courts. This he explained was partly due to favourable weather conditions they have had this year.

With Wimbledon in full flow it's not surprising that tennis is very popular. Grass courts are in great demand and as a result we are bound to see some extra wear on the courts, so it will be important to implement some time and resources to repair any damage caused by play.

This month sees the continuation of regular maintenance tasks - grass cutting, grooming, brushing, aerating, feeding and watering. Particular attention should be made to your irrigation regimes ensuring that all turf surfaces receive adequate amounts of water to maintain turf growth. Groundstaff will also be trying to maintain the sward height at between 6-10mm depending on the level of play.

A programme of aeration can be considered to alleviate any compaction from recent play. However, this needs to be done with an appropriate aerator, something like the Hydrajet, Dryject or SISIS Javelin Aeraid, which are able to penetrate the hard clay soil profiles without causing surface disruption, thus allowing some much needed air exchange to promote a second phase of grass growth.

Prior to mowing, the surface should be thoroughly brushed. Continue to brush courts daily to remove moisture from the grass surface, stopping the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut on the dry grass.

The mowing height on the courts should be lowered to around 6-10m for the playing season, subject to local weather conditions, but remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut.

Mowing frequency will be dependant on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff & machinery), but generally it may vary from three days a week to a weekly frequency.

It is important to remove any weeds from the playing surface, as they can affect ball bounce and performance of the court. Weeds can be removed by hand, or controlled by application of chemicals, usually a broadleaf selective weed killer. Best results are achieved when the soil has warmed up and the grass is actively growing.

Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side grass growth and reduce the amount of debris Eastbourne-championships-vi.jpg

Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

In July you would be looking to use a 12/0/9, 7/0/7 or similar compound fertiliser blend, or apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through to August. The choice of material and how well it works will be dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and soil temperature being the catalyst for growth.

The performance of slow release fertilisers can be influenced by the weather, often producing a flush of growth when you least expect it. Some grounds managers may use straight compound granular or liquid fertilisers which activate when in contact with moist soil conditions, effectively stimulating grass growth within days.

It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes. Irrigation is required for court preparation and repairs. It's important to ensure that the water gets down into the root-zone, a minimum of 150mm to encourage deep rooting. Check with a probe. Allow to dry out and repeat irrigation process. Allowing surfaces to remain dry can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality. To help overcome dry patch the use of wetting agents have now become an integral part of the maintenance regime with applications being applied on a monthly basis throughout the summer. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link. Irrigation

Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

Seeding sparse or bare areas can be continued. Any rise in soil or air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for disease. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless. Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

It is vital to keep tennis playing surfaces clean and free from debris to avoid possible injury to players.

Artificial Tennis Courts

Artificial grass systems

Weekly

Keep surface clean with regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations on sand levels and pile heights.

American Fast Dry courts

Before/after games

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Clay courtsapril-diary-tennisEuroclayc.jpg

Weekly

Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Top dress any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.

Tarmacadam

Weekly

Keep surfaces clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.