The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Case for a better cover-up job

Calcutta: At 1.30 pm, the sun was out in all its glory leaving little hint of how the clouds had misbehaved half an hour back. Yet, referee Nao Kawate had no option but to call off play at 3 o’clock.

Half of the sparse crowd had left by then but those who had hung around were stunned by the irony. They refused to understand why the court couldn’t be dried up to start the second singles match of the Davis Cup tie late Friday afternoon.

The fault actually lay with the quality of cover used to protect the centre court. Several pieces of PVC nylon, stitched into one huge rectangular shape, was dragged out to keep out the rain. Neither the South Club nor Bengal Tennis Association has anything better, so it’s brought from the District Magistrate’s office every time a Cup tie or a major tournament is held on grass.

Its other utility comes once every year — during the Gangasagar Mela.

The Super Sopper from the CAB arrived quite late in the day — at 7.30 pm. Its size forced the gate leading to the practice courts to be broken to let the machine into the damaged zone.

According to the organisers, there was no way the court could have been dried up even if the Super Sopper had arrived early. And, importing a world-class rolled cover for the 7,500 sq feet court is too expensive for an event which happens once every three-four years.

Referee Nao Kawate didn’t complain, saying there was no ITF guideline for arrangement of quality covers. It was upto local organisers to take care of such situations, he added.

Whatever be the economics involved, some thought should be paid into the watery problem.

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