Clay court maintenance staff looking at the sky

Today is one of those days feared by the eleven clay court maintenance professionals of the tournament. Because it is unknown how long it will rain or when it will rain again. Because there are many matches and there is a lot of wet clay. And because “drying” it and keeping it in perfect condition, as if it hadn’t rained, is not a matter of a few minutes.

Can you imagine a great ice cream brand in which, every summer, all the different types of ice cream had to be tested and approved by a single person? Well, something similar happens with the clay of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. His name is Julio Palomo and he is responsible for the team that loads, distributes and flattens the four thousand kilos of clay powder that is used during the tournament.

Palomo looks at the sky today and has it all sorted out. He prefers very sunny days, which court as dry as the Atacama Desert, than a rainy tournament: “If they are dry, you can water them and that’s it. But if it rains, everything is more complicated”. Palomo knows that on days like today he has to “dry”, check, flatten and adjust. He makes puddles disappear and the drainage works perfectly.

Palomo’s great advantage is that he is a veteran in the eyes of all those players that greet him. He has been going home full of clay for 22 years. And that’s why he knows by heart, for example, the three different layers underneath the footprints of tennis players. That reaches up to 40 centimetres. And that they not only have brick.

And tennis players, are they demanding or have manias with the task they perform from six in the morning to eleven at night? “The Spanish already know what these courts are like. Rafa, for example, has never complained or asked me for anything special. Maybe some foreign tennis players tell us something, but because they don’t step on them all year long, ”explains one of those people who, without ever having played a match, pampers tennis for as long as it takes.