The shirts were white, but less than crisp. The grass was freshly manicured, but a little damp after a Friday afternoon rain. On the same day that Roger Federer rallied from two sets down to advance to the fourth round at Wimbledon, nobody on the tennis courts at Belmont Country Club in Perrysburg Township could promise championship-caliber tennis.
But 16 tennis players took their best swings on the greens at Belmont, on side-by-side courts designed to re-create the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London.
These courts weren't the typical grass tennis courts. Designed to fit inside the width of the fairway, they sat on the edge of the seventh hole of Belmont's golf course, as part of the country club's Wimbledon Grass Court Weekend.
Greg Mahosky, the tennis director at Belmont, spent this week putting the right touches on a pair of tennis courts on a flat stretch of a fairway below the tee box.
"Many players never get the opportunity to play on grass," Mr. Mahosky said. "What better way to present the event than to build a court on the course?"
Hockey games have been played inside football stadiums. A college basketball game has been played on a military aircraft carrier. NBA exhibitions games have been played in a tennis complex in the California desert.
Mr. Mahosky went outside the box as a way to honor the Wimbledon tournament, which began Wednesday in London. Belmont kicked off three days of grass-court tennis — on the golf course — Friday with a men's open doubles tournament.
Belmont is to be host to a youth tennis clinic today at 2 p.m. a ladies pro-am tournament from 3 to 5 p.m., a social mixer from 5 to 8 p.m., and a pro tennis exhibition from 8 to 9:30 p.m. The grass courts also will be open Sunday.
Belmont has three indoor hard courts and four clay courts, but Mr. Mahosky said grass courts are different because a softer playing surface is easier on the joints and gives players a better cushion if they choose to dive for shots. Also, a grass court isn't suited for a power game — sometimes evidenced during the first round of the tournament, as some players struggled to set up strong shots while others capitalized on high or short shots in an attempt to earn points.
"It promotes the serve-and-volley type of game, unless you hit the ball as hard as the pros do," said Tony Knight, who played in Friday's men's tournament. "But in the amateur style of game, you have to go to the net and finish the ball."
When Mr. Mahosky joined Belmont's staff three years ago, he brought the idea of designing a grass court onto a golf course, which he executed when he worked at Dakota Dunes Country Club in Sioux City, S.D.
At Belmont, Mr. Mahosky lined the courts on a flat area of the fairway with water-based paint and put sleeves in the ground for wooden net posts. He said it took about an hour to line the courts and about 20 minutes to set up the nets on the court and the temporary fencing, five-foot high netting that surrounds the courts. Over the weekend, the two courts will require mowing, watering, fertilizing, and checking for proper soil firmness. It's maintenance that's akin to, well, a golf course.
However, Belmont initially found some resistance from golfers when it announced plans for tennis on the fairway. "Once the golfers understood the imprint of the court would not affect golfing or disrupt their game, and once they saw we weren't going to encroach, they understood," Mr. Mahosky said.
Mr. Knight played golf last week at Belmont and didn't notice the etchings for tennis courts until he approached the edge of the tee box on the seventh hole — the courts are out of the reach of sprinkler heads and at the beginning of the 380-yard fairway, which is on an otherwise rolling course. Friday afternoon, the tee box on the seventh hole was relocated to the opposite side of the courts, shortening the par-4 hole to a par-3 hole.
"I think people might be skeptical of what happens," Mr. Knight said. "But it was designed so that it wouldn't interfere with the golfers' use of the property."
None of the tennis players flinched Friday when a golf cart sped behind the two courts as the 16 players — 15 men and a woman — lined up to take a group photo before the start of the event. As the group headed to the two courts, someone shouted a familiar refrain, better suited for Fifth Third Field than the All England Club:
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