SBD/June 27, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
Wimbledon's new Head Groundsman Neil Stubley today said that he is "'100 percent happy' with the grass courts despite a string of players tumbling out of the tournament through injury," according to Paul Majendie of REUTERS. Women's No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka on Monday "called on the organisers to examine the state of the courts after taking a fall on what she called a slippery court one." Azarenka yesterday withdrew from the tournament after suffering a knee injury when she slipped during first-round play. Seven more players yesterday "joined the Wimbledon casualty list in what was a record number for one day at a Grand Slam tournament." Stubley said, "We are still confident this morning coming in that we are still producing the best tennis courts in the world." He added the playing surface is "no different to any other year." Maria Sharapova was "overheard on the court microphone calling her court 'dangerous' as she slipped a number of times" before eventually losing her second-round match. Asked about Sharapova's comment, Stubley said, "It's her opinion. Lleyton Hewitt played on the court an hour before and thought it was fine." Majendie notes this year's Wimbledon marks Stubley's "first time in charge since the retirement of long-time groundsman Eddie Seward." Stubley said, "We are fully confident that we have prepared them how they should be prepared every year. By day four, as far as I am concerned, they are wearing exactly how they should be" (REUTERS, 6/27). Wimbledon officials yesterday issued a statement "assuring players that the surfaces are no different to previous years." The statement read in part, “There have been no changes in the preparation of the courts and as far as we are aware the grass court surface is in excellent condition. In fact we believe that it is drier than last year when the prevailing conditions were cold and wet" (LONDON TIMES, 6/27).
PLAYERS' TWO CENTS: The GUARDIAN's Owen Gibson notes Sharapova, who "fell three times on the same spot on the baseline" as Caroline Wozniacki, could be seen mouthing: 'How many more times?'" Michelle Larcher de Brito, who knocked Sharapova out in the second round, said, "There is a lot of dead grass at the top end that made it slippery. I tried to be careful and take small steps rather than trying to stop right away. It's a tough court to play on." Gibson writes the venue's grass courts are typically "more lush towards the beginning of Wimbledon fortnight and it was suggested that players who were not used to the surface may find the lack of purchase unfamiliar" (GUARDIAN, 6/27). In London, Josh Burrows notes as players "continued to hit the turf with regularity, Azarenka was vocal in questioning the condition of the grass." Azarenka said, “The court was not in a very good condition that day (day one). My opponent fell twice and I fell badly. I don’t know if it’s the court or the weather. I can’t figure it out. There is nothing I could have done to make that better. There is nothing I’ve done wrong that cost me to just withdraw from Wimbledon" (LONDON TIMES, 6/27). TENNIS.com's Peter Bodo wrote there is "no doubt that the courts, while always slick before they start to take their customary pounding during the fortnight, seem especially slippery this year." Sharapova "refused to blame the slick grass for the loss," but she was "clearly distracted" by it (TENNIS.com, 6/26). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes under the header, "Maria Sharapova Slips, And Wimbledon Loses One More Star" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/27).
WEATHER REPORT SUITE: ESPN's Chrissie Evert said weather "has a lot to do" with the slippery conditions at Wimbledon because the area "had a rainy fall, a very, very cold winter. It rained before the tournament." ESPN's Chris Fowler added prior to the tournament, the courts "have to be uncovered so they can get water" and like "every lawn everywhere they're susceptible to the elements and people pointing to the unusual wetness of the autumn and the snow and rain in the winter. In fact, it's been the coldest spring in a half-century." Fowler: "You have to ask yourself what's different about this year than other years. The Olympic schedule is one thing, too. They couldn't immediately begin to prepare these courts for this year's championship ... because the Olympics were played here." ESPN's Darren Cahill noted the outside courts "get a lot of practice on them the week before Wimbledon starts and Centre Court and Court One do not so they're always a little more slippery, so maybe just a little change in getting some people onto these courts will help" ("Wimbledon," ESPN, 6/26).
The '13 College World Series "drew a total of 341,483 fans, making this year’s championship event the most attended CWS in history," according to the OMAHA WORLD-HERALD. The attendance of 27,127 fans for Tuesday's UCLA-Mississippi State series-deciding game is the "largest crowd for a CWS championship game final, and also marked the largest single-game crowd in TD Ameritrade Park history." The Series average crowd was 24,392 fans per game -- 2,610 "more than the 2012 series" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 6/27).
MISSING THE PING? The AP's Eric Olson reported despite the "lack of offense, most notably home runs" during the '13 CWS, "no immediate changes are planned in an attempt [to] bring up the numbers." Some have suggested that the fences at TD Ameritrade Park "should be moved in." NCAA Dir for Football & Baseball Damani Leech said of that notion, "All of that costs money, and we would do that why? So there would be a few more home runs? Is it worth it? We've only had three home runs, yet we've had the highest average attendance in the history of the College World Series." Leech "officially takes over as lead administrator for the CWS on July 1, replacing the retiring Dennis Poppe." The fences at the park "are 335 feet down the lines, 375 in the power alleys and 408 to center field." Those are "identical to the dimensions at the old Rosenblatt Stadium." Not only have the bats "changed since the CWS was played at Rosenblatt, so has the field orientation." Batters "faced the northeast at Rosenblatt and were able to launch flies into the prevailing south wind most days," but they "face the southeast at TD Ameritrade, meaning they usually hit into the wind" (AP, 6/26). In Omaha, Steven Pivovar writes of decreasing the field's dimensions, "Talking with NCAA officials during the series, I see that as only a last-resort move." A switch to a professional model of baseball could "help solve some of the problems, but that wouldn’t come until 2015 at the earliest" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 6/27).