New grass tennis courts are now available to hire at the Pavilion thanks to the tireless work of University of Kent Groundsmen Lee Ballard and Derek Hockett. Kent Sport tennis coordinator Matthew Brears caught up with Lee and Derek to speak to them about their work.
What do you and your team do throughout the year?
Our main tasks are to maintain the sports facilities to the highest standard possible. this includes mowing the grass pitches and marking them out, and brushing the three artificial pitches we have on campus.
Derek and I really take pride in what we do and always want the people taking part in sports such as American football and now tennis to have the best experience.
How did you create these grass courts and what challenges did you face?
The biggest challenge was the time and the weather. We lost two days of work due to rain and we had a Bank Holiday. so another work day was lost. We were really excited about the challenge of setting out grass court tennis, so once we were asked we set to the job straight away.
We mowed the area with our cricket pitch mower, which hadn’t been used for three years. Our first few cuts were at 15mm so that we didn’t take the grass too short too soon. Next, we measured for three courts and over-marked them. Rolling the court took four days, but when we had finished we were happy with the end results. We have now lowered the grass cut height to 10mm and it looks great.
How are you going to maintain the good quality playing surface throughout the summer?
The biggest maintenance job will be the mowing as I think we will have to do this every other day to keep the grass to a playable height. I’m sure as we get into the summer (hopefully a hot one!) we will also have to water the courts.
Is there anything you would like to do differently in the coming years to improve on what you have achieved this year?
Hopefully this really takes off and we can have a few extra courts next year!
The only job we couldn’t do this year was scarify the courts. If we do this next year it will take out the weeds and thatch that is in the ground. Removing this should help with the bounce of the ball and make the court quality better.
Matthew Brears, Tennis Coordinator and Head Coach, said: “The work that Derek and Lee have done in such a short space of time has been exemplary and I’m grateful for their efforts over the last three weeks, and of course the work they will put in over the summer. They have shown a glimpse of what we can achieve here at the University and I’m looking forward to working with them to provide a great grass court tennis offering for years to come.”
Sean Edwards, UKC Tennis Society President, said: “The new grass courts installed by Lee and Del are a huge step forward for UKC Tennis this year and have great potential for years to come. I’d like to thank them for their efforts as the courts are incredibly flat and have a bounce that nobody expected.”
The new grass tennis courts can be booked by Kent Sport members at the Pavilion reception. For more information about tennis and other activities visit the Kent Sport website and follow @UniKentSports on social media.