People say it is pent-up anticipation that makes Monday both Manic and Magic here in SW19 at the beginning of the second week. In theory, Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam where no play takes place on the middle Sunday. In practice, we have discovered there is an intense day of action to marvel at on the so-called rest day.
It’s known as the Wimbledon Queue Tennis Championships and its second year of competition came complete with knife-edge on-court battles, triumphant gestures, bruised egos and the presentation of a trophy, aka the Hoffman Cup: a tiny silver bowl named after tournament founder Andy Hoffman.
The Queue, which famously snakes around Wimbledon Park, is a place of great bonhomie. Those who camp overnight become friends for life as they share coffee and camaraderie to pass the time it takes to inch towards the turnstiles and the Holy Grail of a ticket purchase.
The middle Saturday evening to Monday morning stretch, however, is a long tennis-less time for hard-core fans to bear. So last year, to stave off boredom, Andy Hoffman and some friends came up with the idea of staging their own mini-tournament on Merton Council’s Wimbledon Park courts.
The plan was this: they would exclusively open up entries to all-comers from the Queue (as well as recruit ball boys and girls, line judges and umpires), garner as many rackets as possible to share around and charge £3 entry fee to cover buying balls. In concession to the Sunday ‘rest day’ tradition, they would relax Wimbledon’s ‘predominantly white’ dress rule to allow players to wear, er, for example, blue flowery shorts and novelty T-shirts. As for an audience, of course they already had a ready-made queue of appreciative tennis spectators.
This year’s tournament attracted 24 players, who played a round-robin format, followed by two semi-finals and a final. After an afternoon of heroics, the Hoffman Cup for 2013 was awarded to Alan Meek and Joe McGonigle in front of a crowd of approximately 30 people. Congratulations, chaps!
“Everyone involved had an amazing time and it really brought the Queue closer together," said co-organiser Andre Yeung. “We’re going to run this again next year, but it’s going to be even bigger and better!”