0 Father and son team up at Chapel Allerton

Father and son team at Chapel Allerton Tennis Club

A leisurely game of tennis on grass is a typically English sporting scene during the summer months, but when the summer season that's when the hard work begins for the ground staff.

Anthony Asquith, assistant Groundsman at Chapel Allerton Tennis Club, two miles from Leeds city centre, where his father, Gary is head Groundsman, said: "We open the grass courts in May and they stay open until the end of August or early September.

"Our main work begins as soon as the grass court season ends. That means that we start renovating the courts in September. We need to do it then before the colder weather sets in.

"There has been a lot of 'traffic' on the courts during the season and this produces compaction. We irrigate the courts, scarify to a depth of four millimetres and spike to a depth of four inches.

"We do the spiking to let air, light and oxygen into the ground and then we apply top dressing, fertiliser and do the seeding. Then the germination comes through. After that we do spiking once a month with solid tine."

The latest piece of machinery at Chapel Allerton is a new Dennis mower with a sorrel roller attachment for spiking and other attachments for scarifying, brushing and verti cutting.

That has been a great help to the ground staff and Anthony would like the club to buy a heavier roller.

He said: "We have a half ton roller, but this is not as heavy as we would like and we would like to buy a one ton roller. We would also like some covers for the courts.

"Our aim is to achieve consistent treatment on the courts all the year round. Although tennis is a summer sport, preparation of grass courts takes place all the year round.

"In the summer all you do is mow the grass and mark the lines. We cut the courts every day during tournaments. Normally we cut them three times a week."

Father Gary has been at Chapel Allerton for nine years and 23-year-old Anthony for five years.

"We like to think we have brought about an improvement during the time we have been here," said Anthony.

Chapel Allerton, one of only a handful of grass court centres in Yorkshire, have seven grass courts with two mini-courts for children, six artificial courts, which also need maintenance, one tarmac court and three indoor courts. It has also has squash courts and a fitness centre.

The Yorkshire championships were held there at the beginning of July and they are preparing for the Yorkshire Veterans championships in the middle of August.

Anthony said: "It has been a good season for us. We need some nice weather so that people can play tennis. It was frustrating last year when we did all the work and then it rained.

In contrast, the courts have been firm this year and people have been able to play. The feedback we get from the players is that the courts have been playing well this year. Certainly, competitors at the Yorkshire championships were really happy."

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