Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, is the site of the tennis U.S. Open. Rain delays hampered the 2003 U.S. Open, so the stadium developed the “Slamboni” machine—similar to the Zamboni ice resurfacer at ice hockey games. The U.S. Open is a Grqnd Slam event, and the “slam” in “Slamboni” is from “Grand Slam.”
Slambonis sponge and vacuum the courts simultaneously, replacing workers with towels. However, Slambonis are notoriously slow. The term “Slamboni” has been cited in print since at least 2004.
The stadium planned a retractable roof improvement for the 2016 U.S. Open, so the Slambonis might be sold to other tennis stadiums.
New York (NY) Times
U.S. OPEN; Higher Technology for Drier Courts To Prevent a Rain-Soaked Repeat
By CLIFTON BROWN
Published: August 30, 2004
‘‘It’s our version of the Zamboni machine,’’ Widmaier said. ‘‘Of course, this will be the year we have no rain, but we’re prepared if there is.’‘
Capable of holding up to 30 gallons of water, the machines were specifically designed to absorb water at the National Tennis Center. They sponge and vacuum the courts simultaneously, making gentle turns to avoid damaging the playing surface.
Photos: New court-drying machines will be available at the National Tennis Center. (Photo by Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times)(pg. 1); Workers tried to dry courts the old-fashioned way during the Open last year. (Photo by Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times)(pg. 10)
Talk Tennis at Tennis Warehouse
Chanchai, Sep 8, 2004
Anybody else think they should play ice-cream man music (I think it’s called “The Baby Elephant Walk”) and randomly give out some free ice cream to the kids whenever they’re drying the courts at the US Open from now on?
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
Quick dry with slamboni
August 30, 2006 8:00 PM
By JOHN JEANSONNE. STAFF WRITER
This year’s No. 1 public nuisance at the U.S. Open—too much rain—remains a distinct possibility for the rest of the tournament’s two-week run, but organizers feel better armed to confront it with the latest mechanical and strategic tools, beginning with so-called “slamboni” machines. The informally named slambonis—38 vehicles at $18,000 apiece resembling ice hockey’s Zamboni—are the result of a U.S. Tennis Association court-drying task force that was formed after the 2003 Open, when rain repeatedly interrupted play.
Officials further devised a pattern at which the slambonis—so nicknamed because the Open is a Grand Slam event—could most efficiently and quickly dry the courts without bumping into each other, though they move at a snail’s pace.
Washington (DC) Post
AP Blog: Zamboni More Racy Slamboni
By The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 6, 2006; 5:38 PM
At Arthur Ashe Stadium, it’s a well-choreographed drill—12 people with oversized squeegees line up, walk in a pattern and mop every inch. They also can turn up the heat with portable blowers, if need be.
And when the water really starts soaking the court, they can bring out the big gun: the Slamboni. Hockey has its Zamboni, tennis has the Slamboni. It’s like a riding lawn mower that vacuums the surface. Not built for speed, though.
Am guessing the Zamboni would win a 50-yard race pretty easily. But the Slamboni might handle better in the turns.
Photos from Flushing Meadows: Day 3
THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2013 /by STEVE TIGNOR
The Zambonis, or Slambonis, as they’re known at Flushing Meadows, were busy on Wednesday. It does beat kids with towels.
US Open Dictionary: A Complete Guide to Tennis Terms
Don’t let confusing tennis terms derail your US Open enjoyment. Learn the lingo like a pro.
August 25, 2014 by Alex Glenn
Slamboni: noun. Mini hockey Zamboni with squeegee and vacuum technology for quickly drying the courts after rain. Visit esurance.com to get trusted protection for your personal slamboni today (just kidding).
09/10/2015 at 10:00 am
Cities 101: The US Open Tennis Court “Slamboni” Crew Dry Up Courts After Rain
by michelle young
As of 2004, there were 38 of these machines, nicknamed the “Slambonis” which were designed for the courts at the U.S. Open. When the “Slambonis” first debuted, it was estimated that using them saved about 10 minutes of play for each interrupted game. They hold 30 gallons of water, sponging and vacuuming the courts at the same time. Blowing hot air damages the surfaces, so drying machinery was ruled out in the development of the machines.
And equally important, the Slambonis had to be up to city codes. As Chris Widmaier, the U.S.T.A.’s senior director of public relations at the time said,”Because of fire department codes, we cannot keep much gas on the premises, so we had to look at electrically powered or battery-operated machines. And the machines had to be narrow enough to get through the narrow entrances and exits.”
Of course, come 2017 the Slambonis won’t be needed too much at the two main courts: Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong as they’ll have retractable roofs that can close in 5 minutes.