The main thing you need to be prepared for this tournament is extremely long days and lots of hard work. With 12 courts, 40+ umpires and 9 age groups from 35 – 75 it’s a long tournament with 8am till 11pm days! We were assigned 3 to court and rotated down, up, off.
On the plus side we did get around 3 sessions off each and the venue was actually very central to Katowice and easy to walk into the small town and have a wander around. There were some really lovely restaurants which we got to sample but there is very little down time at this tournament. I was very tired throughout the week and you’ll be wanting to get in as much sleep as you can for this one. Although a few that wanted to, did take the opportunity when they had the morning off to go into Auschwitz, which I would have done myself had I not already been. I would definitely recommend the trip if you feel up to it though – harrowing but an important part of history we should all see first hand to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The hotel was a 15 minute walk from the venue (which I didn’t personally mind, but some others weren’t too happy!) but I would advise making sure you take your umpiring shoes with you, as well as your shirt if you’re anything like me – a sweaty betty! We were given only 2 t-shirts for the week long tournament and then finally a 3rd a few days in. Unfortunately, they were the thick ones and not very cool at all and the hall was very hot as the weather was lovely.
The hotel itself was standard and had a good breakfast which was good to keep you going throughout the day. The hotel also had a pool, sauna and Jacuzzi which was nice to relax in when I did get some free time! The airport was only about 30 mins from the hotel – the organisation of transport was a little poor however and we were waiting at the airport for a long while whilst it came.
Now the food at the venue was passable but traditional dumplings and pasta type foods. There were sometimes sandwiches available, but to be honest we were never sure how long they have just been left out for so we got our own food, plus I’m a picky eater anyway.
As you can imagine as the age categories go up, the standard of play sadly goes down, however they could all probably have beat me on a court! Towards the end there were some good matches and it means a lot to them all to even be playing. Overall the tournament is very friendly and very few issues on court, there will always be the odd ones, and some are clearly experienced players who know how to work a court so you can’t relax just because it's seniors that’s for sure.
Make sure you’ve done your hair each day too as after every match the players tend to want a picture with you and their opponent which the referees are more than happy with but try and keep them moving or else they could stand all day and chat!
Overall the tournament was enjoyable, even if tiring and allowed me to meet umpires from far and wide and see old friends as always.
Attached is the group photo – I did say there was a lot of us and the picture of the venue for outside – it was an impressive arena to hold so many courts, even if they were slightly close together