The 2015 BWF World Junior Championships were held in Lima, Peru, from the 3rd to the 15th of November. This was my fourth World Junior Champs, and by far the busiest, with a record 50 countries entered in the team and individual tournaments. As a result, five or six of the days involved early starts (on the bus at the hotel by 7.30am) and late finishes (arriving back at the hotel at 11pm or later... past midnight on one day... which limited the opportunities for technical meetings!)
There were a total of 32 umpires officiating at the two events, including 7 BWF certificated and 14 BWF accredited umpires, with the balance being made up of PanAm umpires, some of whom were being assessed for PanAm certification. It was great to meet up with old friends amongst the BWF contingent, and to meet a couple of new ones, including Andre from South Africa and Bertha from Peru. It was also fantastic meeting umpires from Canada, USA, Suriname, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico, as well as line judges from around South America (mostly) and the world (the "international" contingent).
As is usual with World Junior Champs, there were few incidents, and I had no cause to issue anything more than a mild warning to a couple of players about wasting time on court! There were a number of referee requests, some of which may become standard at future events, so I will mention them here:
- Umpire and service judge walked onto court on opposite sides, service judge directly to the chair, where the shuttles were deposited (we had to carry them on with us!), and then the service judge would come across court to stand with the umpire, shake the players' hands and stand by while the toss was performed. All this as an alternative to the service judge measuring the net height, which is no longer a requirement.
- At the toss, all players were required to be on the same side of the net so that there was no shaking of hands over or under the net. Also, less chance of the players wandering off to start warming up before the toss process had been completed (although the service judge would only hand the warm up shuttles to the players after the toss had been completed.)
- Players were actively discouraged from flicking sweat at the sides or back of the court. This is partly due to health and safety, but also an attempt to minimise time wastage. As umpires, we were instructed to explain to the players that they are allowed to quickly use their towels between points.
- Advertising on compression socks and arm sleeves was a big issue. We were eventually instructed to call the referee every time - they would take a photo of the item to submit to BWF, and we would continue on court. Presumably BWF will come up with a policy regarding these items, which have become quite prevalent, in the near future.
- We were required to record (using the "O" on the scorepads) every time we needed to overrule a line judge, and at the end of the match get a printout of the scoresheet to give to the referee so that he could keep a tally of all overrules.
Apart from that, the only other unusual happening was a "trial" of a new team event scoring system. I won't say much about it here, suffice to say that it involves a kind of relay where the scoring continues from one game to the next, with the match ending at 55 (short version) or 105 (long version). I'm not sure that the players were too keen on the concept, but as an umpire I thought it (the long version, at least) had some merit.