Devonshire Park’s head groundsman Roy Charman revealed preparation for Eastbourne’s AEGON International tournament started last September.
Roy has to make sure the surface is in tip-top condition for some of tennis’s biggest stars for the event which takes place between 16-23 June.
“We started preparing for this year’s event last September. You have to as a lot of work goes on in the autumn including scarification, overseeding and top dressing,”
Roy believes the surface at Devonshire Park is “shorter and tighter” than Wimbledon and is the “best grass court in the world. I think the athletes enjoy playing on grass simply because they are less vulnerable to injury.
“Playing on cement and clay is hard on the knees and ankles. It is different with grass as there is a bit of give.”
“The people of Eastbourne are proud of this event and it’s well supported. It’s the biggest ticketed event in town and brings a lot of money to Eastbourne’s hotels and restaurants.”
37,000 people watched at least one match at last year’s event, a figure that Eastbourne Borough Council Events Development Manager Mike Marchant believes can be beaten.
“Tickets will be free on the first day for the first time this year. I think if people take up the option, we could potentially have 8,000 people in here if we had the capacity,” said Mike.
“It is a good opportunity for the people who couldn’t afford it to come and see it for free. The crowd usually consists of aaround 35 per cent locals and then visitors from the M25 corridor. The tournament generates a lot of PR value for the resort.”