While the pressure will no doubt be mounting as the players take to the Centre Court today for the Watsons Water Champions Challenge final, you can bet there'll be one person out among the action taking it all in his stride. With a record eight Wimbledon finals under his belt, umpire John Parry has certainly seen and done it all before. And as far as nerves go, Victoria Park will never hold any fears for the Welshman. Not when you take into account that back in 1972 he jumped from 3,000 feet from a helicopter and parachuted down into the park as part of the RAF's Falcons exhibition team. 'We used to go all over the world,' said Parry. 'We'd do the Paris Air Show and all the big ones. We were here for the Festival Of Hong Kong and we jumped everywhere - Victoria Park, Happy Valley, into the old Hong Kong Stadium. I think it was some of the hairiest things we ever did here,' he said. 'We went up in a helicopter to take a look and the guy flying the thing said, 'Can I leave the door off?' It was pretty hot so we didn't mind but then he went up over the harbour, at about 3,000 feet, and he turns the darn thing sideways - and I'm looking straight down at the water with only a belt on. I mean, I wouldn't have minded if I had a parachute, but we were only checking things out!' When it came to the actual jumps, Parry says the crowds turned out in full force and there were thousands of people gathered at each venue as four jumpers, flares blazing, plunged down. Once his career in the RAF drew to a close - he went into the force as a physical education officer and went on to become a parachute instructor for the likes of Britain's famed SAS - Parry's attention returned to his first love, tennis. He had been a Welsh junior champion, making it through to play at the junior Wimbledon event and had continued to play during his time in the air force. 'At the time the tennis umpires were amateurs,' said Parry. 'It was more about who you knew than what you knew back then, in the early 1970s. So they decided to start a new group and train everyone properly.' The group - the Professional Tennis Umpires Federation - heralded a new era of umpires and Parry was one of the first to sign on. 'I worked for a brewery at the time but they were good - they liked the fact I was attending all these top events,' said Parry. 'Eventually the old umpires group and the new one joined together and that's what you have today.' When it comes to classic matches he has seen, Parry could fill volumes. It is no wonder he spends a lot of times these days as an after-dinner speaker. But one of the earliest impressions made was by a mullet-haired kid named Andre Agassi way back in 1988. The unranked 18-year-old had found himself in the semi-finals of the Tournament of Champions at Forest Hills against the top-20 ranked Aaron Krickstein. 'He was just a kid,' said Parry. 'But you know he kept talking to me during the change of ends, making small talk, like he was having a hit-around. I had never seen anyone so confident. He was so young but so amazing.' Then there are the Wimbledon finals. He says his first match was a mixed doubles - 'to be honest, I don't even remember who it was' - but he said Stefan Edberg-Boris Becker in 1988 and Steffi Graf-Martina Navratilova in 1987 were standouts. Parry's career coincided with some of the greats of the game and it comes as little surprise that one of the legends of the game - a certain John McEnroe - helped provide some of the umpires more cherished memories, both of the good and the not so good kind. 'I did one match with Mac against Bill Scanlon [in 1983],' he said. 'They were paired on Centre Court in the round of 16 and Scanlon said if Mac opened his mouth he'd swat him. So the press were all over it, the pressure was immense, and Mac won 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. 'I think I umpired Mac more than anyone in the end. Very quiet off court, of course, not really into small talk. But even now, in the veterans' matches, he plays to win - that was always his thing. 'I remember just a few years ago he was playing against Tim Henman in a match that was for Henman's charity. I was umpiring and I saw Mac during the afternoon. 'Want to bet me that I beat him?' said Mac. 'I'm an umpire and can't bet so I said let's have a beer if you do. Sure enough, Henman came out playing nice, as it was a charity match, and Mac was just smashing the ball past him. And he won, of course.'