I have long wanted to go to the Estonian International as everyone says it is a great tournament – they’re not wrong! I arrived to a snowy Tallinn, but within a couple of days the snow had turned to slush due to the rain which arrived on Wednesday. Frozen slush is not the easiest to walk on whatever the country!
I was fortunate to be able to arrive a couple of days early and took the opportunity to explore Tallinn Old City. It is well worth a visit – medieval buildings and sections of city walls make for a very impressive place. Having said that, the guide book did not mention the KGB museum on the top floor (which allegedly didn’t exist!) of the only hotel in which foreigners were allowed to stay during the Cold War. Although small, the many anecdotes told by the guide made the visit extremely interesting and well worth the entrance fee.
Anyway – to the badminton which was after all why I was there. Briefing at 9pm on Wednesday was quite late but fortunately very brief. On walking to the venue my thought was “If this is further than the original hotel we were supposed to be in, where would that have been?” The answer was next door, but it was only a 5 minute walk from a higher quality hotel (which had a swimming pool!)
The tournament started Thursday morning with qualifying. Having been given the first match on the main court I joked that would mess the schedule for the rest of the day – little did I know what was coming! Play lasted about 12 hours, which wasn’t too bad. I will admit to be shocked that having completed 13 duties I had had no 3 sets! Friday was the first and second rounds, and although I had the middle shift off, I still managed to complete 11 duties. Got to duty 22 before a 3 setter, and that was SJ not umpire – strange things were happening for those of you who know my reputation!
Saturday started with the Quarter-finals and as I had signed up for the city tour I only completed 2 duties. One of these went to 3, but again as a SJ. The walking tour highlighted parts of the Old Town I had missed earlier in the week, but also added local anecdotes not in the guide books. Return to the hall for the semi-finals and was the service judge for a MD on the main court. Saturday evening saw the tournament meal in a restaurant in the Old Town – very tasty, with a traditional Estonian dessert. In the words of the Referee “10 umpires can drink as much as you like, and 10 can’t” (or words to that effect!). I was on the list for the Finals so couldn’t!
Arriving at the Hall on Sunday morning we were given our duties, and I was the umpire for the Women’s Doubles. This was the last match of the tournament, as there was hope that there would be an Estonian pair in this, but unfortunately they lost in the semi-final. This of course meant that having had the first match of the tournament on Court 1, I also had the last. Even stranger – it didn’t go to 3, which meant at the end of the tournament I had completed 28 duties, and only 2 went to 3!
Overall it was a great few days in Tallinn, good to catch up with old friends, as well as make new ones. I would heartily recommend a visit to Tallinn, both for the badminton and the Old Town. If any one has trouble believing I only had 2 duties which went to 3 (and none as umpire) I can provide proof as all umpires were sent a breakdown of their matches complete with scores. By the looks of it I did the most duties, and was on court for less time than many other umpires. Efficiency!