As you can appreciate, Matt and I are tired. But, we know we’ve done a great job and without our stringing service, the players would not have had rackets to compete with, although I’m sure there would have been a passing around of rackets between them. Yonex stringers start later in the morning around 8 or 9am and they close at 7pm. I cannot imagine that they would have prioritised Victor players rackets over Yonex sponsored players rackets if Victor did not provide a stringing service for their players.
One of our rules in the stringing team is that the stringing room must be manned throughout our long opening hours (8am – 10pm). With all rackets completed, I decide to visit the stadium whilt Matt will have a quick snooze on the empty “rackets in” couch.
It doesn’t take long before I am deep in meetings either in the coffee area or inside the arena watching the action. Being so tired, I cannot watch the badminton for too long, my eyes are closing and I’m nodding off! So, it’s easier to meet and greet as many people as I can which keeps my energy high enough.
I don’t stay too long in the arena and return to the stringing room to allow Matt a chance to see the badminton too. Like me, he would prefer a sleep but steps out into the cold to get some fresh air before entering the arena. Maybe he’ll wake up a little.
Kim Ha Na arrives with a racket, and throughout the day other players arrive to bring a small number of rackets for restringing. They are all completed on the day.
By Wednesday night, all rackets have been restrung. It’s a first, we are up-to-date! Amazingly, our All England adventure is almost over, as we already know that we won’t receive too many rackets for restringing due to the players returning home after the tournament rather than moving on to the Swiss open. We closed on time and then had an early night. It was a good 48 hours and now it’s time to sleep.
It’s Thursday morning and the snow has arrived. It should be an easy day, mainly sitting around and waiting for players to collect or deliver rackets. I’m not expecting many rackets as players will be in the arena or out of the tournament. It’s unlikely players who lost on Tuesday will have their rackets restrung.
Thursday onwards becomes a mixture of meetings, watching the badminton and stringing a few rackets. I had the pleasure of watching many great games. Sadly, the eagerly awaited Lin Dan versus Lee Chong Wei match was a disappointment. Lee didn’t bring it and Lin Dan had the psychological upper hand once again.
On semi-finals day I had meeting after meeting and therefore did not have the time to enter the arena. It was a shame but that’s how it goes.
With all but one racket returned, Saturday night was quiet and gave us time to reflect on the week. It was a strange All Englands. The new format and change in the international diary, resulted in a quiet end to the week. It was a shame because it’s so much better when the pace is high and at times, a bit frantic. Maybe next year it will be different. If the Swiss Open returns to its usual date following the All Englands, we could be a lot busier.
2019 sees the build up to Olympic Games qualification so I expect to see more players emerging from junior ranks needing to gain international experience.
My thanks to the entire Victor team in Birmingham for another memorable tournament. Hopefully, I will return to Birmingham in 2019 as Head Stringer for Team Victor again.