The team who look after the courts at the Nottingham Tennis Centre have been recognised as the best in the country - pipping the hallowed turf of Wimbledon to a national award.
Staff and volunteers at the centre won the "Professional Tennis Grounds Team of the Year" this week, beating last year's winners at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
The centre hosts the prestigious Aegon Open each June and the world's elite have praised the quality of the playing surface.
Speaking about the 2017 tournament, British number one Johanna Konta said: “I love this court. I think this is my fourth or fifth time here.
“I really love the centre court here – they are all very nice courts here, so it’s good to be back.”
Laura Robson added: “It’s nice, and these courts are not as fast as some other grass courts, so you have more of a rally and chances to get back into the point if you are on the defensive and things like that.”
Two full-time groundsmen and 35 temporary grounds staff look after the grounds at the centre during the grass court season.
The team won the award at a ceremony at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Awards at the National Conference Centre, in Birmingham, on Wednesday night (November 1).
The award highlights the very best sports turf management at a tennis club venue that hosts tournaments with paying spectators.
Mike Wisner, chief operating officer at Nottingham Tennis Centre, said: “We are extremely proud of grounds manager Ryan Middleton, Tatenda Mukome, Wayne Thomas and the rest of the team and the fantastic work they do.”
In total, the team maintains 13 grass courts, 19 outdoor, all-weather Plexicushion courts and eight indoor Plexicushion courts. And the team is made up of two full-time groundsmen and 35 temporary grounds staff during the grass court season.
Mr Wisner added: “People won’t realise that during the Aegon Open, the crew maintains courts for almost as many matches in one week that they do at Wimbledon in a fortnight – a real feat of skill and planning.
“We know the players that come to the centre really enjoy the quality of the grass surface and I look forward to seeing many more players as the Nottingham team and court surfaces have now been recognised nationally.”
Hugh White, director of leisure and culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “Many congratulations to the team from Nottingham Tennis Centre.
“This is a true testament to the quality of our courts and tournaments and to see the city winning recognition over such high calibre opposition shows what an incredible job they do – not only at tournament time, but all year round to maintain this world class facility.”
Head groundsman, Ryan Middleton is pictured, with the Award
(Article and photo reproduced courtesy of Nottingham Post)