The Wimbledon Way
By Laurence Gale MSc
Chapel Allerton Tennis Club Head Groundsman Anthony Asquith is always keen on keeping up with the latest grounds maintenance methods and technologies. One way of doing this is to arrange a number of talks and presentations from some of the countries leading Groundsmen at Chapel Allerton Tennis Club. Working closely with David Robinson, chairman of the Yorkshire branch of the I.O.G Anthony was able to arrange for Eddie Seaward to come up to Chapel Allerton to talk about his career and developments at the All England Tennis Club.
Over fifteen delegates turned up to see Eddie in the comfort of the clubs facilities.
Eddie spoke for well over two and half hours producing some interesting facts and figures about the All England Tennis Club.
- Has been Head Groundsman since 1991
- 14 permanent ground staff. A further 14 join for the period of The Championships.
- Court grass composed of 100% rye grass (chosen for its durability).
- 1 tonne of grass seed is used each year.
- Approximately ¾ million gallons of water are used on the grass courts each year.
- Maximum of 3,000 gallons of water used during the Fortnight - weather permitting.
- All courts re-lined, rolled and mown daily during Championships.
- The Championships playing height of grass is 8mm.
- Paint is not used to mark the lines on the court. A transfer wheel marker is used to apply a
white compound (500 gallons used yearly) containing china clay to make it durable.
- All the lines are 50mm wide, except the baselines, which are 100mm.
The talk focused on the some of the issues he was faced with when there was major construction projects going on at Wimbledon. Particularly when they were building the new NO 1 Court in regard to daily maintenance regimes. Having to have mowers and other court maintenance equipment transported in and out by crane every day often made a simple maintenance task more time consuming.
Eddie now spends less time in a hands on roll, because of all the major events and changes that are on going at Wimbledon. Most of the day to day maintenance issues are managed by his senior ground staff. assistants.
Eddie has to attend many meetings, especially now that they moving forward with the new Centre Court roofing project which is due for completion in 2007. This work alone has meant that some traditional facilities at Wimbledon will be relocated. A new administration block is being constructed which has meant that additional car parking facilities have had to be found. The outcome was Eddie having to construct some reinforced grass parking areas on adjacent land.
With regard to the new roof, Eddie is more than confident that it will be a success, having been involved from the outset being part of the planning / design team. Being involved with the architects from such a early time was critical having the opportunity to put forward the needs of the grass plant is an important in respect to light and air movement for the sustainability of the court. In fact the changes being made to Centre Court to accommodate the roof structure has meant that by using modern light transparent materials some of the present shade problems will be reduced.
Eddie also outlined the activities of his staff, pre and post the Wimbledon fortnight in regard to maintenance and surface testing. Detailing the time taken to carryout maintenance operations. coupled with the role of the STRI in measuring court characteristics such as ball roll, ball bounce and surface hardness, along with assessing sward quality.
All in all the Wimbledon fortnight is watched by in access of 500 million people world wide and therefore it is important that Eddie and his staff continually strive for high standards when producing and maintaining the tennis courts at the All England Club. It is without question that their dedication and attention to detail is the driving force that keeps Wimbledon at the forefront of grass court tennis competitions thus making Wimbledon one of the most prestigious events in the tennis sporting calendar.
Chapel Allerton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club
Tel 0113 2266622