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WTA set to introduce electronic line-calling system

11/8/2005 - Tennis

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.