This was my third year in Båstad. With the ATP tournament in Bucharest cancelled, I keep saying that I have to stick around in Sweden a bit longer because they have tennis tournaments here. Three of them every year: two ATP and one WTA and two of them are linked and take place in Båstad. I wrote about my experiences here before but this year was a truly special one. Swedish Open celebrated its 70th edition and that meant double the tennis, double the party and double the work. Triple the work even, since we all wanted to make the celebrations unforgettable.
For me it is simple: tennis comes first! The sea and sunsets come right after, the parties I can somehow do without but above all are working in a team and being a part of the Player’s Family again: the squad that takes care of the players. The ones that are in the background, that make sure things run smoothly before or after the matches and during rain delays, and it is important to know that Båstad can bring a lot of rain delays. This means that before putting your nice shoes on and getting ready to party in Pepe’s Bodega, we all have to make sure things are put in order in the Players Lounge and in the Players Office, that the coffee is hot and the freshly baked cakes and cookies have enough vanilla custard on the side, that the mineral water is cold and there are enough snacks and fruits around, that the players get their lunch and welcome gifts from our great sponsors (my favourite one is Teddykompaniet, of course) and not only. You great everybody with a smile on your face, you say “hello” and “have a nice day” and eventually your face drops when Manolo Santana, Björn Borg or Stefan Edberg enter the lounge. Yes they entered the lounge because in the end the ATP tournament this year was about celebrating them, and not only them, but several other tennis legends that took part in the tournament in Båstad along the years. Among them was also Ilie Nastase the first ever ATP World number 1, a guest this year, or Mats Wilander who is one of the nicest and most polite persons I’ve ever seen. It was hard to restrain myself from talking about his show “Game, Set and Mats” with him but you are not there to chat with the players and guests, you are there to work! I must remind myself that every time one of my favourites walks in. And as much as I love watching the players on court, with all the thrills of the spectacular points, I find it quite easy to work with them. I respect them a lot and surprisingly tennis players are people too, and very nice people above all!
So after blowing helium in a few hundred balloons, dressing up nicely and ensuring that the Lounge is decent and relaxing for the athletes, it was party time. Smile, make everybody feel good, celebrate Swedish tennis and enjoy seeing Bob Sinclar playing in Pepe’s Bodega. And after you inhaled some helium from the balloons and said funny words in funny voices, remember that in the morning you have to be back at work to open the lounge for a new day of tennis, for new activities for the players, good times and hard work. And the second day, an the third day, and so on and so forth until the sad day of the finals when you say goodbye to the ATP staff and the ATP players, the ones that were still there, and you say hello to the WTA staff and the ladies who are ready to rock the courts. And everything starts all over again. Smile, make sure things are in order, prepare the welcome gifts, blow helium balloons, dress nicely, dance and come back to work the second morning just to wake up on the final’s day and be confused about one thing: it’s over, am I sad about it or do I feel like I want to go home? The truth is somewhere in the middle.
If you think working at a tennis tournament is glamorous, you are right, in a way it is. But before you actually get to enjoy the selective company of some of the best athletes in the world, you put up with a lot of hard work, with learning to work as a team, with the idea that one single detail might ruin everything. You anticipate, analyse, solve, if it needs solving, and you do this with a smile on your face. You make sure the guests have everything and after all this, you don’t really feel like going to the fancy party anymore, you just sneak into your pyjamas and chill at home with your team mates. Power naps help you through the toughest days and coffee helps a lot.
But, at the end of all this you have seen a few very good matches, you’ve seen what it is like when tennis meets music and Marcus Daniell plays his guitar, you have chilled at the beach a bit, splashed around in the pool, saw some very beautiful sunsets and spent some time (about 24 hours every day for almost 3 weeks) with some really amazing people. And you saw David Ferrer win another tournament after some great matches against Dustin Brown, Henri Laaksonen, Fernando Verdasco (that had a bit of a nazi incident inserted by an uninvited guest) and Alexandr Dolgopolov (wow, I’ve actually seen all these matches, and not only), you saw Caroline Wozniacki play and Katerina Siniakova bursting into tears because she just couldn’t hold back her emotions after the she won the tournament. This just to mention a few tennis highlights. Some other tennis highlights are related to watching tennis from the side of the arena from where you see both the court and the sea. It’s hard not to get lost into the blue horizon and stop paying attention to the game, but it’s also a beautiful sight to rest your eyes upon at the changeover.
I wonder if I missed anything? Looking at the length of the post I’d say I didn’t but I am sure I left out so many things. Like not mentioning Ola Salo’s concert or my amazement when I realised who Ola Salo was. Due to my ignorance in my mind the particular person was just the singer from The Ark… well, not anymore, now he has a name!
I’ll miss the tennis, I’ll miss the sunsets and the beautiful sea and I’ll miss the people. I am very happy to have been a part of this event for another year, and if all goes well maybe we meet again next Summer. Until then, Stockholm Open is just around the corner. Game, set, match, championship: David Ferrer, Knowle/Petzschner and Katerina Siniakova, Lemoine/Rus.