Among the more exclusive of London’s sporting clubs, the Queen’s Club counts among its members many tennis greats, members of the royal family, and business leaders. It is held in high regard by touring players for its perfectly maintained courts.
Graham Kimpton is Grounds Manager, where he took over the reins in 2010 from his father, David Kimpton. Graham’s family association with Groundsmanship is impressive. His uncle Peter worked at the nearby Hurlingham Club for 50 years, his father worked at Queen’s for 43 years and his cousin Adam Tester is Grounds Manager at The University of Leicester. With Graham’s eldest son, Sam, now working at Queen’s, he becomes the third generation of the Kimpton family to tend to the famous West London grass courts - all 12 of them.
The big challenge for court management is coping with the wear during and after the big tournaments. “Professionals produce three months of wear in one week,” reflects a stoical Graham Kimpton, second generation Grounds Manager. “Starting with Becker [coincidentally a member of the club], pro tennis players have steadily got bigger and stronger which really chews the courts up.”
The answer to heavy wear is to have strong turf that recovers quickly. It’s important because maintaining the courts is a balancing act. Whatever happens, the grounds team must provide a championship quality surface for the annual summer tournament and accommodate the year-round needs of the members.
Barenbrug grass was originally the choice of Graham’s father, the former Grounds Manager at Queens. The tennis courts at Queen’s are unusual as they are composed of a blend of Bent, Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass.
The courts at The Queen’s Club are oversown twice per year, with two different mixtures:
Spring Mixture – 100% Ryegrass | Autumn Mixture – Ryegrass, bent and fescue
Graham maintains the Bent and Fescue population in the courts to boost the sward density. Although the courts are predominantly Perennial Ryegrass, Graham feels the Bent and Fescue help to ‘fill the gaps’ in the sward, helping to create a tight barrier to reduce Poa ingression.
In his time at The Queen’s Club Graham says there have been many advancements that have contributed to improving the standards of the surfaces. Improvements in machinery, particularly aeration and scarification equipment, as well as developments in grass breeding from Barenbrug.
“We have used Barenbrug for over 15 years. I feel they offer the best out there, they give me good service and are always pushing the boundaries to create improved varieties”.
Taken together, these tennis court mixes have all the properties that make it a high-quality playing surface fit for a first class tournament.
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