Thursday, June 27, 2013

Does Wimbledon Need to Change the Grass? Jim Courier Thinks Maybe

(June 27, 2013)--I go more in depth on my feelings on the spate of grass tumble-related injuries in the first four days of Wimbledon in my Grass Clippings column at Tennis Now, but since it's on the tip of everybody's tongue right now, I'd like to keep beating this dead horse some more.

Yesterday Jim Courier made some really interesting remarks while doing his talking head duties for the Tennis Channel, which helped introduce some perspective into the ongoing slippery grass-court debate. "The game has changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years as far as the speed the players are dealing with," said Courier. "So the reaction times are much smaller. Look if we're playing with wood racquets I don't think you're seeing players falling on the ground, because they have more time to get the ball and they have more time to adjust their movements. But they don't have that luxury, and every year that reaction time gets smaller and smaller. That's a problem."

Courier says the courts have always been slippery in the first week at Wimbledon, so that hasn't changed. "The lush courts in the first week--they're greasy, they're slippery--that has been the case every year. I used to actually try and intentionally slide like on clay in the first week because I knew that if I tried to stop my shoes would slide out from me. I don't think we're going to see that aspect get better."

Like pretty much everybody else at this point, Courier isn't quite sure what the proper fix would be, but he does know that one likely needs to be made. "I think they may have to think about changing the grass to make it softer again, if they want the players to have the footing, or allow the pimples on the shoes to be a little bit longer for better traction," he said. "I don't know the answer, we're up here second-guessing everything that we're seeing, but it's clear that they're not having good footing out there."

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