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Wimbledon and Rain

We are fully aware that the two weeks of tennis at Wimbledon instantly heralds rain and more rain, making the organisation of the tennis championships difficult.

The Team with the hardest job are The Groundstaff who are often neglected by the BBC Sports coverage of the event.  The Head Groundsman Eddie Seaward has been responsible for the courts since 1991 since the retirement of Jim Thorn.  He manages a permanent Team of 14 staff plus an extra 12 leading up to and during the championships. 

Wimbledon2 Eddie and his team spent one year getting the 19 grass courts ready plus a further 22 grass practice courts.  So that is around 1.3 hectares of grass to maintain daily during the fortnight so if the tennis matches continue into the evening the Grounds Staff get home late for their dinner.

The courts are mown at 8mm, rolled and re marked each day.  Court wear, surface hardness, moisture content and ball re bounce are measured each day to ensure that they comply with regulations of the Lawn Tennis Association.  They may be watered with some 15,000 litres of water during the two weeks if required.

The lines are in play and marked via a wet line wheel transfer system with a specially formulated china clay line marking material for durability.  They do not use emulsion paint!

To comply with health and safety regulation and their duty of care, The All England Lawn Tennis Club have teamed up with Ambre Solaire to be the official sun care supplier to offer some protection to the Players, Umpires, Ball Boy and Girls.

Once the winning trophies have been awarded, Eddie and his team start again in preparation for 2008.  Let us hope that next year the roofs will be in place although his team are getting quick at putting the covers on during the rain showers - all 22 to 28 seconds for Centre Court and 17 people to perform the task as the cover weighs 1 tonne wet and dry!

So next time you have the television on watching the Tennis Championships, spare a thought for the Grounds Staff, whose team effort, individual and team skill and dedication get the surfaces playing correctly and looking so great for the global audience.


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