The first weekend of February 2020 saw 11 umpires (and 2 assessors) travel down to deepest Hampshire to officiate at the English Senior National Championships in Winchester.
After being safely ensconced into the Hotel, some ‘light refreshments’ were had whilst waiting for those who had a lot further to travel to arrive, however due to the scheduled early start in the morning it was not a late night!
Unfortunately for one umpire, due to the early briefing time on the Saturday morning they were not able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and had to make do with a “grab and go” bag complete with sausage bap and orange juice but sadly the bag didn’t travel well on the journey to the venue which resulted in the orange juice spilling all over their trousers – not a good start !
Games started on 4 courts with Court 1 being permanently live-streamed on YouTube. All was going well until the MOU decided that they should perhaps take a turn in the chair but it didn’t bode well as someone had forgotten to plug in the scoring tablet to the electricity supply which resulted in a flat battery and, as well as going to 3 ends, they had to issue a yellow card to a player for “verbal obscenity” – the only one of whole tournament ! A total of 46 matches were played on the day, the longest of which a Men’s Singles lasting 1 hour and 7 minutes, the shortest, a Men’s Doubles lasting just 19 minutes but due to the complexities of various players playing in different events, we still didn’t get finished until 2100 hours which meant that we couldn’t order any food back at the hotel, but thanks to Simon Dart who ordered from a well known pizza company we managed to grab a bite which the Hotel allowed us to eat in the bar area, (tasted even better when Simon had a voucher for 50% off everything!) accompanied by a few light refreshments and then off to bed.
Sunday morning, with a more civilised briefing time, had a couple of left over semi-finals to be played first with the finals due to commence around 1230. These got underway on time and we managed to get finished around 1600hrs which enabled those with a distance to travel to get away quickly.
After the women’s single final which Vicky Ryan had umpired, she was whisked away by the assessors who had been observing her all weekend as she was being considered for upgrade to ‘Continental’ umpire and we are delighted to say that she passed, so many congratulations to Vicky !
Thanks to Hampshire Badminton for looking after us all