The Groundsman

September 2012

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the Groundsman September 2012 FEATURE 33 Olympics over, Neil is now looking towards the 2013 Championships Wimbledon's Olympic medal winners! Colin Hoskins met with Neil Stubley at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, and discussed how the Wimbledon groundscare team managed to achieve Olympic playing surfaces in such a short time after the Championships It was a tall order: the AELTC grounds team had just 20 days after the Championships to bring the courts back to their world-renowned high standard for the Olympic tennis, to meet the LOCOG remit of "on day one of the Olympics, the courts should be looking (and playing) as if it was the first day of the Championships". Meeting such a demand set Eddie Seward, Head Groundsman, and Neil Stubley, Head Groundsman Designate, and every one their 16-strong team, an ambitious target – but it was a challenge, says Neil, "that we were adamant we would meet...we would do everything in our power get the Games on"! He continues: "The dialogue with LOCOG started about four years ago, so from an early stage we had a good idea of what we needed to do. In addition to a complete change of plan in terms of our renovations – which would normally occur immediately after the Championships - and, of course, detailed trials into seed growth/playing surface recovery, not the least of our concerns was the fact that our grounds team (which for the Olympics doubled in number with summer staff, as it usually does for the Championships) had to endure back-to-back periods of working 16/17-hour days for both the Championships and the Olympics. That had to be carefully managed by a schedule of 'rest days' which saw up to a third of the team taking some time off at one time – but without affecting our preparations for the Olympics. "Following on from that, during the Games, the team was charged with preparing the 12 match and seven Olympic practice courts in the mornings; and in the evenings they took care of our other 22 courts, which were primarily being used by our members (some of the top players in the Championships and Olympics are also members). It was a terrific workload, but we achieved it and the team can certainly walk tall." A view of a Wimbledon practice pitch, in tip top condition Photos: Colin Hoskins

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