A crisp autumn morning in October saw me throw my umpires bag over my shoulder and head off to Budapest and the 44th Hungarian Open. I'd never been to Hungary before and was hoping the schedule would allow time for me to see a few of the sights. Unfortunately, as it turned out it didn't, other than from the window of the airport transport, but I'm definitely inspired to visit again as a tourist.
The umpires briefing on the Tuesday evening was the first real chance to meeting the rest of the umpire team - a couple of familiar faces and many new ones, with the award for the furthest travelled going to Christophe, there representing the French federation but living on Reunion Island (head southwest and stop just before you get to Mauritius). With 31 October being only days away, when my turn came, I introduced myself as "I'm Vicky from England.... still just about in the EU!"
Wednesday was taken up with qualifiers, mainly singles, and there was time to get used to the court names which had been assigned, and which we had to remember for our announcements - "Court Multialarm, 20 seconds" quickly became my favourite!
I quickly found that our friend from the Indian Ocean had only fairly basic English and was struggling to follow the daily briefings from the referee team. Cue my GCSE French being dragged out from the depths - I’m not sure if my mother (a retired languages teacher) would have been proud or horrified had she heard my attempts, but it seemed to do the trick.
Our team of mainly overseas officials (just four from the home nation) got on really well and really bonded as a team. There wasn't much time to relax but we did get a chance to let our hair down on the final evening of the tournament when we were taken out to a barbeque style buffet restaurant in the city.
Finals day arrived in the blink of an eye. I was involved in the women's doubles, won by Canada. However, my favourite moment was the men's singles final, and a certain Spanish singles player who was not happy at a line call and showing a definite reluctance to play on, choosing instead to bend the umpire's ear. Andreea from Romania decided the no-nonsense approach was needed and her sharp response of "Pablo. Go on court. Now." had the desired effect.
All in all, a lovely tournament to be a part of, and our hosts looked after us well. Finally a word about the food, which can be summed up as follows - for the most part very good, and lots of it, although putting jam onto pasta did strike me as unusual. In Hungary I certainly was not...