Tennis

ESPN’s guy who doesn’t “KEEP OFF THE GRASS” at Wimbledon

File photo: Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)
File photo: Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon
(Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

LONDON – Many on the ESPN Tennis Team have stepped foot on the sacred sod of Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon.

All the former players you see on ESPN’s exclusive coverage competed – and won – at what is called the “Cathedral of Tennis.”

Hall of Famer Cliff Drysdale twice reached the semifinals. Pam Shriver went that far three times, and partnered with Martina Navratilova to win the Ladies Doubles five times. Of course, three times each Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe was the last standing.

(L-R) Tennis player Lucie Safarova; Pete Holtermann; Fay Andrews, media liaison for AELTC and Catherine Whitaker of Live@Wimbledon on Wimbledon.com. (Dave Nagle/ESPN)
(L-R) Tennis player Lucie Safarova; ESPN’s Pete Holtermann; Fay Andrews, media liaison for AELTC and Catherine Whitaker of [email protected] on Wimbledon.com. (Dave Nagle/ESPN)

These days, however, none of them or anyone else besides the players, officials and ballboys and ballgirls are allowed to step near the 100 percent perennial ryegrass that is hand-weeded and mowed to a height of 8 millimeters every day of the Fortnight.

No one, that is, besides ESPN’s Pete Holtermann.

He is a fixture on the ESPN Tennis Team at the Majors and other events through the year. A former staffer in the ATP’s public relations department, Pete serves as ESPN’s liaison to the ATP, WTA, players and coaches. On site, he can be seen rushing around, coordinating interviews (either courtside around the grounds or on the ESPN set) and alerting the control room. He also is the main force behind @ESPNTennis on Twitter and the ESPN Tennis page on Facebook, and helps with media relations in the press room. In addition to his ESPN duties, he handles PR for select tennis events and other clients.

It’s his role in coordinating interviews that takes him – and no other ESPNer – past the doors that separate the lobby underneath Centre Court and the court itself. . . right up to the prominent, all-CAPS sign reading: “PLEASE KEEP OFF THE GRASS” next to the playing surface.

“It is always an amazing – even humbling – experience to be close to the most famous court in the sport, with its history, beauty and traditions,” Holtermann said. “It never gets old, and that part of my role here is one I treat with reverence. I just wish my front lawn looked like that!”

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