2021 All England – A Line Judges Point of View

2021 ALL England Championship Review

It goes without saying that this event was a very different and unique year, especially with all the pre-event preparation, and continuingly evolving guidance right up to day 1 of the event, including a home COVID test to be done and sent out prior to the event.

I was lucky, having had COVID within the last 90 days, I was exempt from having any COVID tests, as the test may return a false positive due to having had COVID so recently. This meant I could arrive on Tuesday afternoon, whereas most LJs arrived on Monday or early on Tuesday to have their COVID test and receive their result in time for a Wednesday start.

So I arrived at the hotel, dropped by bags, and then drove to the Arena West Car Park, and then I went back to the hotel, a very short and nice 10 min walk. The first view of the lockdown procedures I noticed concerned the lifts, namely only one person at a time could use any lift. We also had to isolate in our rooms at all times, and were only with other LJs when walking to and from the Arena.

There seem to be an issue with getting the results from the COVID tests, and as a result the start on Day 1 was moved from 9am to 2pm, to allow enough COVID results to arrive in the morning, and allow us to have the majority of people cleared to go to the arena. A big thanks to Kate, who worked hard to get the COVID results for the LJs, so they could be accredited for the event, and most importantly, she could allocate them into a LJ team, and cover the matches.

Once an LJ had their COVID negative result, they could go to the Accreditation desk in the hotel and pick up their welcome pack, including tops and various other items (refer to event gallery).

There was a welcome Volunteers Zoom Meeting at 8pm, where we got to meet the team, hear from the BE Chairman, and Event Director. There were also a number of fun activities organised, to help the volunteers enjoy the event and actively participate, this included Yoga/Pilates sessions, Zoom Coffee Chats, Evening Zoom Quizzes, Photo of the Day (shown in each days Newsletter), Act of Kindness and a steps challenge for the week, where all volunteers were put into one of 4 teams, and each day you could record your steps for your respective teams.

Each night you had a breakfast card to complete, and put into a box, located in the hall of each floor, where you stated the time of delivery and what you wanted.

Event Day 1 – Wednesday

The breakfast box was amazing, your choice of a bap with sausage and/or bacon, hot drink, cereal and milk, a banana, a muffin, orange juice!

As we were not starting until 2pm, I decided to join the 10am Yoga/Pilates class, along with 5 other LJs and a couple of other volunteers. It was very challenging, but very enjoyable, and it was good to be doing something positive while waiting for the event to start.

After a nice walk to the arena, we all were assigned our teams by Suzanne and Kate, and with all seating fully socially distant (see picture in gallery)

We had 10 teams, with 5 or 4 LJs per team, and for the first time we were 4 LJs on  court, meaning LJ1 & 2 were calling the full length of the sidelines on both sides of the court, and as usual baseline LJs were also doing the mopping.  There were 5 courts and 2 teams assigned to each court, and we rotated, 1 game on & 1 game off, for the full session on our assigned court, which started at 1.30pm and my team were last off all courts, at 12.15am, line judging 7 games during this time, with many 3 setters!

Also had my very first Unsighted call in my line judging career, as the fin on the net post obscured my view of the sideline directly after the post, and therefore I could not see the shuttle land after a cross net drop shot!

The hall was the warmest I have ever felt in my 7 years at the event, a lot of people had brought warmer clothing, but we did not need any of them, many only had a single layer on.

We were also to stay in our bubble, the Green Bubble, this meant an extremely long walk for the gents, over 75% around the concourse upstairs, but not so long for the ladies.

It was also St Patrick’s Day, got a nice photo of Seamus in his Leprechaun outfit (refer to event gallery).

Each day we were given lunch and dinner in the concourse restaurant on the first floor, and we had a choice of soup & sandwich, and a hot meal; we could decide when we wanted these meals, anytime between 12-6pm.

I managed to get my picture in the Newsletter as Photo of the Day 😊

Event Day 2 – Thursday

Start changed to 9am, as we had to catch up on unfinished games from day 1, which meant we were in certain teams for the first few matches and then in new teams for the actual last 8 round.

After all games from day 1 were played we moved to only using 3 courts, where we had 6 teams, with 6 or 7 LJs per team, and 6 LJs on court, back to the normal standard.

Not as warm as day 1, but still warm. Started 9am, finished 7pm, and again my team had 7 matches to LJ.

Got back to the hotel by 7.30pm, and many of us joined the Volunteer Celebration via Zoom at 9pm, which included:
– Great words by Chris, Adam and Jon
– A weird raffle, with some really crazy prizes
– Overall a good fun time together

Quarter Finals Day – Friday

Leisurely start, matches starting at 10am, so a lie in and reporting to arena for 9am. 2 Courts, 4 teams, 10 LJs per team, on the same on court, 20 matches; half the LJs would be leaving after today, as we were only allowed 20 LJs for the last 2 days of the event. Session started at 10am, and the last team finished at 10pm, so another long day.

First time on court 1, had 2 hawkeye challenges, got one right and one wrong (cross smash down the sideline).

While leaving, bumped into my friend Victor Axelsen after he won his quarter final match, we had a nice chat, and I managed to get a picture with him.

Semi Finals & Finals Day

Late start on both days, report for 9.15, 10am start. For Finals day managed to get 3 finals, and both the semi’s and finals were not to be missed, all bar 1 dominated by Japan, purely because China (inc. Chinese Taipai, Hong Kong and Taiwan) decided not to come, and the whole Indonesian team were taken as someone on their plane coming over subsequently tested COVID positive and they had to isolate under the government’s track and trace.

2 more hawkeye challenges, unfortunately got both wrong, so all 3 calls which I got wrong were smashes coming across the sideline, but no excuses, this was my worst hawkeye stats since they started; as my teacher would say “Must do better 😊”.

In great recognition, Kate was asked to be part of the presentation ceremony team, and present the runner up medals in the Men’s Double event.

Great team atmosphere throughout, but especially for Saturday and Sunday, and it was a wonderful week; a big vote of thanks has to go to our 2 leaders, Kate and Suzanne, as they took most of the problems away from us, and allowed us to focus on the line judging. So good to see my line judge family again.

Trivia: The last tournament at the Barclaycard Arena (name as last year) in 2020 before the lockdown was the All England, and the first event at the Utilita Arena (the new name) after the lockdown was the All England.

Best regards

1 Response

  1. says:

    Excellent report Bhai Sab.
    Well done buddy, keep up the good work as always.