â€œYou expect the court, obviously, to be great,â€ Murray said. â€œThe bounces and stuff were absolutely perfect. Thereâ€™s no bad bounces. Itâ€™s always, you know, a little bit slippy the first match. The grass is very lush. So that was the only thing â€” you need to be a little bit careful of your footing. But the court played very well. No bad bounces or anything. It was perfect.â€
Such reviews have allowed Stubley, just the eighth groundsman in the clubâ€™s 146-year history, to slip back behind the scenes, where he wants to be. During Wimbledon, though, he swaps his work shorts and T-shirt for slacks, dress shirt and tie, part of the tournamentâ€™s formality. At 45, he blends into the debonair world of tennis, his build slim, his face tanned. His temples are lined with crowâ€™s-feet, marks of someone who spends time squinting outdoors.
He oversees 16 full-time employees, expanded to about 30 for Wimbledon, who tend to 19 competition courts and 22 practice courts. The grass is nurtured all year with one primary goal: to be perfect for the tournamentâ€™s opening. After that, the grounds crew tries to maintain it, amid the toil of countless footsteps and the vagaries of an English summer.
â€œThatâ€™s the balancing act, having the right amount of moisture in the plant at the start of the tournament to make sure it can hold the moisture until the end,â€ Stubley said. â€œFor that to happen, the court will always be slightly lush at the start of the tournament, and as you get slowly into the latter part of the first week and into the second week, the court naturally firms up more, the surface starts to dry, and it becomes a lot more grippy.â€
I was in Sportmart at Confederation Mall last week and they are closing out the store. They had a tennis racquet I have wanted for a while on sale and then 40% off that price so I went today and bought my new racquet, a Head Ti. Tornado for almost nothing. I was quite pleased.
Now the big challenge is not playing tennis but finding a decent court. For over a decade the City of Saskatoon has been letting itâ€™s tennis courts deteriorate and then they transform them to something else. Some of the best courts in the city were in City Park where they stopped being maintained, then repaired and then were turned into a community compost pile. High school courts (with the exception of Marion Graham) were let to deteriorate as well and the result is that it is rather hard to find a place to play tennis.
I am pretty sure the city could counter with stats that show that many of us play tennis anymore but that makes sense, no one wants to go play tennis on deteriorating asphalt with loose gravel, cracked courts, and broken nets, especially on the westside. The courts at Rusholme Road and 29th Street were in quite bad shape last year. Of course part of the problem is that they are not just tennis courts, they get used for street hockey, skateboarding, and basketball. Thatâ€™s not meant as a complaint, when I was a teen, I used them in the same way.
Of course they are free and the city does make an effort on getting them open as soon as possible. According to the cityâ€™s tennis court website, they are all open. Iâ€™ll check them out tomorrow. The city also does post a number (975-3300) to report any concerns or problems with court maintenance or vandalism so maybe it wonâ€™t be too bad.
Now there is Riversdale Tennis and Badminton Club but I am not sure I want to join a club just to hit a ball around.
Of course the most important part of this post is to be intimidated when you see me pull my new racquet of itâ€™s bag. Itâ€™s a beast.
Okay, I just checked out my 2009 New Yearâ€™s Resolutions. Letâ€™s see how I did.
- Walk or ride by mike to work 100 days next year :: Not even close. I did it about 50 times. FAIL
- Read a book a week :: I read a lot but I would do about 2 books a day while up at the lake each time we went up there for three or four days. It was like binge eating. FAIL
- Play a game of tennis a week weather permitting :: Never played a single game. I suck. FAIL
- Golf five times this summer with Mark. FAIL
- Take three drives from the book that the Reimerâ€™s gave me for Christmas, Saskatchewan Scenic Drives :: We did two but thatâ€™s fine with me. PASS
- Get out of the country once in 2009 :: PASS
- Put a front and a back deck on the cabin :: FAIL I put the gazebo up and am happy with that. This year I will add a front patio. It was hot on the days I wanted to do some work and there is this ice cream stand where the breeze blows through underneath the shade treesâ€¦
- Finish my documentary on homelessness in Saskatoon :: FAIL but I made some progress.
- Learn how to fish. :: Never went once. FAIL
- Dedicate some more time to Resonate in 2009. PASS
So here are the 2010 New Yearâ€™s Resolutions.
- Mark and I are going to hike to Grey Owlâ€™s cabin. Itâ€™s about 40 kilometers round trip through the Canadian boreal forest. Itâ€™s a pretty clear trail and with or without a GPS it will almost impossible to get lost. Mark got so excited when I brought up the idea, he almost started packing. Itâ€™s a two day hike in and out so it should be a lot of fun. I am not sure if Wendy will be joining us but if she does, it will be a lot of fun.
- I want to do about 1500 km on the bike this year. It isnâ€™t quite was Dave King will do in 2010 but then again, I donâ€™t think I am as committed to my goal as he is.
- Wendy wants to lose some weight this year. I am supporting her by giving up all junk food and cutting my Diet Coke consumption (a side note, while I loved a cool Pepsi and Coke while growing up, I canâ€™t stand their taste now on the occasional time where I will drink a bit of one). Odd to think that you can lose a taste for something like that. Then again I donâ€™t have much sweet things anymore so maybe I lost my sweet tooth.
- Play a game of tennis twice a month. This time I am serious. I have a great Prince racket which I hope will intimidate my opponent into thinking I have a better game than I do. Sadly I donâ€™t think it will work as Wendy plans to be my opponent for most of those games. The frustrating part about this is Saskatoon has shut down quite a few of their west side tennis courts which means that on the weekends, it can be hard to find a court.
- Golf five times this summer with Mark. The plan is to manufacture Mark into a world famous golfer and billionaire by the time he is 30. Well maybe not. The actual plan is to make him into a kid that can hit a straight drive once in a while. For those of you not from Saskatoon, Silverwood Golf Course was designed for kids and parents to golf at. Itâ€™s a dual 9 hole course which will mean for some quick games (well it depends on how we golf). Itâ€™s a pretty cool idea and it will be our golf club of choice in 2010.
- Read better books this year :: I read a lot of garbage last year, most of it was sent to me by Christian publishers looking for kind reviews. At the end of many of them I felt like I had wasted a lot of time. This year I am tossing them out and focusing on books that will challenge me and expand my thinking, not just frustrate me.
- Write more and also use more video on the blog :: I donâ€™t know if I am going to retire the contextless links or not but the plan is to write longer, better researched, and better written posts. I am also going to start using video more for some fun but also longer features. The pith can stay with Twitter.