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Courting disaster no more

smucav
02-06-2006, 04:18 PM
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/3638202.htmlCourting disaster no more
Linda McIngvale assures us there will be no finer red clay courts anywhere once "the French guys" are done refurbishing those at Westside Tennis Club.

She concedes last year's problems with the surfaces were the club's fault — "We just hadn't maintained them correctly," she said — so the same French company that did the original construction will send its experts back for a major makeover. Cost: $500,000.

The work begins Feb. 15 and will take a month to six weeks to complete, finishing comfortably before the tournament begins.

Devotee
03-15-2006, 07:05 AM
www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/ten/3724423.html (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/ten/3724423.html)


March 15, 2006, 12:46AM
Tennis maintence gets a French twist at Westside


By DALE ROBERTSON
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

RESOURCES
DIGGING UP DIRT ON WESTSIDE'S CLAY


• What is it?: The official name for the red clay is calcaire rouge ban royal . Made from pulverized brick, the clay is for cosmetic purposes only. It was originally chosen for the rich red color to provide contrast with white balls then in use. • Depth: The colored layer is barely a millimeter thick. The key component is the underlying limestone (in French, calcaire ). It's not quite 6 inches thick and accounts for how the court plays.

• Origin: The calcaire used by Supersol, the company responsible for the courts at Roland Garros and Westside Tennis Club, comes from a quarry north of Paris.

• Maintenance: The charcoal beneath the limestone facilitates proper drainage. The courts must be watered daily by hand. Automatic sprinklers are imprecise, and the courts must never be allowed to become dusty dry. ... At least once a year, the limestone should be tilled and then re-packed to prevent it from becoming lumpy and uneven.



It proved to be a half-million-dollar mistake, one Linda McIngvale vows won't be repeated.

Never again will the grounds crew at Westside Tennis Club be allowed to take shortcuts in maintaining the red-clay courts. In the future, there will be nothing but by-the-book upkeep, she promises. Although McIngvale, who owns the club with her discount furniture impresario husband, Jim, has become fond of her "French guys," she hopes to not see them again any time soon.

When French red clay goes bad — and anybody who attended the 2005 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships could see that Westside's had gone bad — you don't just thumb through the Yellow Pages looking for a solution. You go all the way to Paris, to Roland Garros. You summon the experts from Supersol.

Pierre Leglise's father founded the company that's responsible for the famed terre battue — literally, "beaten earth" — on which the pros play the French Open, and only Supersol can guarantee the real deal. When the McIngvales decided to put down Grand Slam surfaces at Westside, they went straight to the Leglises for their red clay. They got what they paid for, too — perfect courts.

But, unlike hardcourts, the dirt must be coddled. It must be rolled, watered and groomed in ways Linda McIngvale admits she never understood.

Compounding the problem significantly was having to go back and forth in the Gallery Furniture Stadium between clay and cement for the two ATP Masters Cups and, more recently, World Team Tennis.

For the first conversion to clay, Leglise's team returned to babysit the process. .

As a result, Westside had a big mess on its hands before the Clay Courts tournament.

Linda McIngvale suggested it might be time to give up on the red stuff and switch to Har-Tru, the artificial green clay that tends to be ubiquitous in the United States. But her husband vetoed that idea.

"We're going to get the French guys back over here, give them some wine and get these courts back in the shape they're supposed to be in," Jim McIngvale said.

So Leglise and his four most trusted colleagues returned to Westside on Feb. 17. Some 30 ship containers full of material met them there.



A project with baggage

Because U.S. customs officials don't allow raw wood to enter the country, the stuff couldn't be sent on pallets. Once the containers made it to Westside, downloading the cumbersome sacks took 10 days before court work began.
Subsequently, the outside courts received major makeovers.
The Gallery Furniture Stadium Court had to be rebuilt from the subsoil up.

Leglise and his team of experts are set to depart for Paris today, leaving behind surfaces he guarantees are indistinguishable from those at Roland Garros.

But they won't be in good shape for long if they aren't properly cared for. The maintenance regimen is tedious and laborious, but it's essential.

"That's my job," said Elliott McCullough, Linda McIngvale's brother and the new facilities manager at Westside. "We won't let this happen again."

Leglise is a pleasant, affable fellow who makes friends easily. He travels the globe exporting French red clay and was recently in Beijing, with a Madrid stop coming up.

There are roughly a thousand Supersol courts worldwide, including 600 in France, but barely a dozen in the United States with the greatest concentration at Westside.

He has a soft spot in his heart for Houston. He likes the people here — tres sympathique, he says — and he has become fond of Tex-Mex cooking and margaritas.

But Leglise admits he was shocked at what he found when he saw his courts, or what was left of them. The bumpy surface. The wavy lines. The washed-out color.

Leglise had received a call from Sebastien Grosjean, the French tennis star who played at Westside for the first time last April. Leglise said Grosjean told him he couldn't believe he had been on Supersol courts.

Of course, by 2005, they weren't anymore.

But now they're up to snuff again. The onus is on the Westside staff to keep them that way and the stadium surface is going to remain problematic as long the clay-to-hardcourts dance continues.

Told that the terre battue must be replaced by concrete again, as mandated by the World Team Tennis season this summer, Leglise's eyes bugged out.

"C'est vraie?" he said. "It's true?"

McCullough said Westside is seeking a less disruptive solution.

He's hopeful some kind of a suitable, easily removed protective barrier can be found to lay on the clay before the hardcourts surface is put down. The less the clay-and-limestone layer cake below is disturbed, the better.



Thanks, Mattress Mack

Leglise is intensely proud of his work. His clay courts are works of art to him. He hated to see them in such a distressed state. But he admitted the McIngvales have been good for Supersol's bottom line.

"We filled all the holes," Leglise said through a translator. "We fixed the lines. There was much work to do. Big problems everywhere. They had not followed our directions (for maintenance).

"But we have showed them again. This time, I think, they understand."

"We do," McCullough said. "We do."

TwistyServe
03-17-2006, 07:49 PM
This is the joke clay tournament of the year hehe, cause if Roddick can win it then it shows the quality of clayers here.

Devotee
03-18-2006, 06:07 AM
This is the joke clay tournament of the year hehe, cause if Roddick can win it then it shows the quality of clayers here.


I wouldn't say this is the joke clay tournament of the year.
Roddick seems to win this title alot because he feels comfortable at/near home. It's true that when watching matches of Ginepri, Dent & Roddick, fans obviously don't see true clay court tactics.

But with names like Luis Horna, Juan Monaco, Fernando Vicente, & Albert Montanes, surely we can expect some respectable clay tennis.

Agassi won this title recently. Coria played here when making his comeback.
Mariano Puerta played here in 2005 & of course was a Roland Garros finalist the same year.

Deboogle!.
03-18-2006, 06:48 PM
I'm glad they got the courts worked out the way they're supposed to be. Let's hope that crap that happened last year never happens again.

*Ljubica*
03-19-2006, 11:41 AM
I wouldn't say this is the joke clay tournament of the year.
Roddick seems to win this title alot because he feels comfortable at/near home. It's true that when watching matches of Ginepri, Dent & Roddick, fans obviously don't see true clay court tactics.

But with names like Luis Horna, Juan Monaco, Fernando Vicente, & Albert Montanes, surely we can expect some respectable clay tennis.

Agassi won this title recently. Coria played here when making his comeback.
Mariano Puerta played here in 2005 & of course was a Roland Garros finalist the same year.
I tend to agree with you. Must admit I've never taken much notice of this tournament before, as it is always during my preparations to travel to MC and the European clay court season - but as some of my favourites have chosen to play here this year (even though I would much have preferred them to play in Valencia where I can go and watch :devil: ) I guess I am going to have to wake up and take notice a bit more!!

alfonsojose
03-31-2006, 02:07 PM
The tourney looks :cool:, but Texas isn't the best place for a gay man :sad:

Deboogle!.
03-31-2006, 03:43 PM
Houston's pretty liberal! :yeah:

shotgun
03-31-2006, 04:28 PM
I wouldn't say this is the joke clay tournament of the year.
Roddick seems to win this title alot because he feels comfortable at/near home. It's true that when watching matches of Ginepri, Dent & Roddick, fans obviously don't see true clay court tactics.

But with names like Luis Horna, Juan Monaco, Fernando Vicente, & Albert Montanes, surely we can expect some respectable clay tennis.

Agassi won this title recently. Coria played here when making his comeback.
Mariano Puerta played here in 2005 & of course was a Roland Garros finalist the same year.

The field can be divided in two types of players:

- The North Americans (or the ones who live in the U.S.)
- The lower-ranked claycourters in the top 100, who entered here because they assumed they wouldn't get in directly in Monte Carlo the following week.

*Ljubica*
03-31-2006, 04:41 PM
The field can be divided in two types of players:

- The North Americans (or the ones who live in the U.S.)
- The lower-ranked claycourters in the top 100, who entered here because they assumed they wouldn't get in directly in Monte Carlo the following week.
Pretty accurate description I would say - and very irritating for me because it means the lower ranked clay courters like Mónaco have chosen not to try and qualify for MC either because they know they will be too jet-lagged to do themselves justice - and that means I won't see them :devil: