WTA set to introduce electronic line-calling system

Updated: November 8, 2005, 9:35 PM ET
Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- The Women's Tennis Association Tour is planning to install an electronic line-calling system at tournaments next year, possibly before the grand slams do so.

WTA chief executive officer Larry Scott said on Monday that it would be realistic to expect an electronic line-calling system to be in place on the tour by the middle of the year.

"We've been testing the systems and they have been better than 90 percent accurate, which is better than the human average," Scott said. "We haven't set a hard deadline, but next summer is realistic. We want to make sure it is completely reliable."

The WTA Tour has tested two systems, the British-based Hawk-eye ball tracking system, which has been approved by the International Tennis Federation, and the Canadian-based Auto Ref system.

Scott said the tour has not decided which one to use.

Australian Open offficials have said it is highly unlikely they will employ an electronic line calling system for their January event because they do not have enough time to test it.

French Open officials say they do not need to use it because ball marks can easily be seen on clay, and Wimbledon officials have also indicated they do not see a compelling reason to employ it in 2006.

The United States Tennis Association has been vocal in its support, however, and it is likely that the 2006 U.S. Open will be the first Grand Slam to use it.

Scott said the tour would allow players unlimited challenges to line calls, adding that he is not concerned that the decision could lengthen matches.

"There's no limit to how many times a player can ask a chair umpire to check out a mark but it doesn't mean the chair umpire is obliged to get out of the chair," Scott said.

Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport said the tour should leave the control of matches to umpires.

"As a player, you're worrying about playing the match and if we're worrying about all the line calls, that isn't necessarily right," she said.

"If the head umpire is unsure, I think they should have just as much right to check. I don't think I have to stop every point and ask them to re-check it."

The WTA Tour also announced it would get rid of bonus points next year, which are used to help determine a player's ranking.