The tennis week is by far the best week of the year. It’s that period of time that you wait for a whole year, work towards for months and it’s gone in just a few days. And absolutely nothing beats seeing your favourites play live and working together with your team mates to take care of the players and well, almost everybody who needs taking care of.
This was my 7th Stockholm Open. I started back in 2013 when I was given the chance to work with the players for the first time and I kept coming back. Every year I come back to so much work and such good times that I would do this again and again and again. I love what I am doing. And above all I love tennis. And the people I work with. This year’s tournament came after months of planning, throwing ideas and discussing possibilities.
Days before the action starts on court things already take shape behind the curtains, players arrive from Asia early during the week and the mechanism of Stockholm Open has to be in place for them. Going through the work that is put into this would mean going through an endless list of details that need to be in place all the time, just as any regular job. Just that this one is all about tennis. It’s about taking care of the players, about making sure there is an answer for all of their questions, about taking care of the team that you work with, about eliminating problems even before they occur and solve them professionally if they do, it’s about enjoying working in the company of passionate people and world renowned athletes and about tennis. And the list can go on. A day starts around 8 am and ends most of the times well after midnight. There is always an open door and a solution, always a smile, a sandwich, a cup of coffee, a ginger shot, some chocolate balls or a freshly baked pie. There are breakfasts with the view of the centre court and cups of coffee sipped to the sound of the rackets hitting the tennis balls from one side of the net to the other. There are also suppers eaten in record time and espressos drunk to boost the energy level for long evenings. There are spectacular points, tiebreaks, long matches, fast and exciting doubles action and there are emotions.
Tecău/Rojer vs Pavic/Soares
I am a doubles fan so I will always pick watching the doubles matches. They are quick-paced, thrilling with incredible points and the score can change in the blink of an eye. And this year I was lucky enough to see Horia Tecău play in Stockholm, alongside his partner, Jean-Julien Rojer. Horia is Romanian and I am not going to go into details about how much I like watching him live. Though I’d always like to see him play on central courts, one great detail about his matches, and about doubles matches in general, is that they are most of the time played on secondary courts where I can sit and watch from the first rows and follow not only the match but also the players’ reactions, the way they communicate, their focus. It’s a whole little world that unfolds there. By far this has been the highlight of this year’s tournament, I hope I see them live again soon. Then of course there’s always Robert Lindstedt, a bit of a tennis legend and an exciting player to watch. Horia’s former partner teamed up with Moldova’s Radu Albot, another player that I like to follow year-round in his singles journey.
Seeing Janko Tipsarevic’s last match on the ATP tour was a bit emotional. It was a long match and the Serbian player fell to Yuichi Sugita 2-6, 6-4, 6-7 after a fierce fight. But that was also a long night for us, the ones working until the last player has left the building. Of course, watching Denis Shapovalov winning his first ever ATP title in Stockholm was a treat. Part of the new generation of talented and hard working tennis players, Denis has all eyes on him when he is on court. He has a beautiful game, discipline and hopefully plenty of years ahead to delight the audience with his style. He is one to closely follow.
I would write more about tennis but other games that I saw were scattered between running around with errands, make sure nobody works on an empty stomach, taking breaks on the roof and keeping everybody happy, me included. And that’s easy to do as long as I have coffee and tennis. And when at the end of the week people say thank you, notice your work and say that they want to come back, after little sleep, long days and great matches, you feel that you want to do this again starting the next day (if only), then it means that it was a great week for tennis and everything that comes with it. Game, set, match: Denis Shapovalov and Kontinen/Roger-Vasselin.