Saturday, 20 June 2009

Wimbledon 2009

Here I am again corresponding from Wimbledon 2009 as an umpire. Last year I had an awesome experience as it was my first year officiating at the All England Tennis Club but they say it is difficult to live up to your first experiences in anything!

I'm already disappointed to see that the reigning champion Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the tournament because of an injury to his knees. This is a real shame and I am sure that every avid tennis fan will see this as a great blow to the proceedings for Wimbledon 2009. I have spent the last week officiating at the Wimbledon Qualifying Tournament (see pic of my happy umpire team!) at the Bank of England Tennis Club in Roehampton and overheard an official remark that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are indeed music concerts. Federer performs some beautiful piano pieces and Nadal is more a heavy metal drummer in his play - both equally beautiful to the musical ear yet one has the potential of giving you sore ears. I'm more a sore ears man in this case then and I for one will miss Rafa's crazy antics on the court, from pulling out his pants at every serve of game to placing his water bottles in precise positions around his chair, ah the boy will be missed!

I've also been a tad worried in the last few days. Solely because I feel very comfortable in London! I've often said to friends and family that I would never live in London because of the great size of the city and the difficulty in transport but I've been doing quite well these days. I traveled on the London Tube without even having to look at the Map and I know my Northern Line from Circle Line to my District Line - scary times indeed! (I'd still not want to live here!) I am staying in Wimbledon and so I'm pretty close to the action at all times. I'll also have a break in proceedings this year as I've been given time off to attend my Ph.D Graduation on 25th June at the University of Glasgow - I'm very grateful to the management of umpires for this day off. I'll post a picture or two of my graduation if I feel vain enough on the day - you will see what I mean :)

Weather in London - again, too hot for my liking! I'm pasting on a Factor 50 sun cream but I'm slowly turning orange again. A message from my favorite Catholic priest wrote, 'don't be tangoed this year' - I think it is too late Father! :) The forecast for the first week is said to be very hot! I guess it's better to have it toasting hot than rain, rain, rain. I've been getting many messages about the new roof but we mustn't forget that it is only Centre Courters who will have the liberty of not having 'rain stopped play' - the rest of us slumming it on the outside courts need to take cover from God's prevailing blessings! :)

So, what can you expect from me this year? You are all probably overwhelmed to see me actually write my own blog piece! As you know I've been very busy with my Ph.D but now that it is over I will hopefully have more time to write my own pieces. I hope you have all enjoyed the articles that I have posted so far. During Wimbledon 2009 I'll be writing my blog every day with just some observations and remaining as impartial as possible (unless Rafa is concerned of course, I still can't believe he will not be here!). I will also be broadcasting live from the All England Club on BBC Radio Scotland's Thought for the Day and so that will also be posted.

In meantime, get your tennis balls ready and get your racquet polished! I've been reading a little of the history of tennis and found that 'real tennis' originated in France in the 12th Century and the word racquet seems to have Arabic roots for 'palm of the hand' - I wonder if there has been an Arab influence on the game at some point in history. The modern tennis game seems to have started around the 19th Century and the game is now very different from what it was back then. Just look at this lovely picture I found on good ol' Wikipedia that illustrates what I mean.

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