Arguments or Replay?

While “instant replay” has frustrated some fans and traditionalists, it has helped to “get it right” in many sports.  So, why are the clay court tournaments still having the umpire climb down from the chair and search for the correct mark to make a (sometimes) correct line call?

One Pro’s View

USPTA Elite Professional Alan Anastos writes,

“Hey George.  I’m writing to talk about line calls. All too often the humans get it wrong. This needs to stop. There’s too much on the line (no pun intended) not to utilize the technology that’s available.

“We’ve all seen the outcome of matches determined by faulty calls. It need not happen. At Roland Garros, the umpires climbed down from the chair to find marks and they sometimes missed the mark and called it wrong. Players pointed out marks (sometimes they were right, sometimes wrong) and pleaded their case. Not winning that debate, even if the camera showed that the ump got it wrong.  

“I believe all ATP and WTA tournaments should use the camera and get rid of lines people. If it’s not possible on all courts, they should use it from the quarters to the finals. I expect it will happen one day. I hope to see it. 

“P.S. Fed needs to win Wimbledon. Rafa is ever closer in his rear view mirror!”

Alan Anastos, USPTA Elite Professional

Erase The Marks

Alan, I am also a believer in the value and argument-stopping technology.  But even short of that, why don’t the ball kids erase all marks near the lines on EVERY changeover?  That would help reduce the error of pointing to the wrong marks.  Why don’t all of us senior hackers also erase old marks near the lines to help make better calls?

What do YOU think?

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5 thoughts on “Arguments or Replay?

  1. As long as the technology exists, why don’t we make full use of it on all surfaces. It is certainly more accurate than human judgment.
    That said, it won’t be long, with the increasing use of A.I., that humans will be replaced by robots in the umpire’s chair (and sadly, on the courts as well).
    For those of us who don’t have the privilege of a chair umpire, it is wise to erase marks, on the har-tru surface, that are close to the lines before each game, and certainly with each change over.

    Michael, increasing use of AI is both a benefit and a worry! thanks, george

  2. Erasing old, close marks is a good idea. One good aspect of the clay court use of “marks” is that you don’t have the silly rule about only having a set number of challenges that you can use. Instead, the umpire can just laugh at you if you ask him to check a mark that doesn’t need checking.

    it is always interesting when a player “runs out of challenges” and there is a close call. thanks, george

  3. George, that’s a great idea about having the ball kids erase marks on every changeover instead of their holding a usually-ridiculous umbrella over the players’ heads. It will also save Rafa a lot of time!
    Regarding line calls, we’ve all seen how wrong Hawkeye can be….it’s not an exact science…..but I guess that if all players are playing with the same imperfect system, it will balance out. So, yes, I would vote for going all-camera on the court.

    John, yes, not perfect … but better than John McEnroe arguing a call for ten minutes! thanks, george

  4. George: Many years ago I saw the Japan Open use a procedure that made close line calls on clay a lot easier and I brought it to the US when I was Referee at the Volvo International in North Conway, NH, a major ATP tournament on red clay. Almost every changeover (maybe every other changeover) a kitchen broom was used lightly on the inside and outside of every line, leaving a 6-inch swathe clear on each side of the lines. The lines themselves were not swept. This meant that any ballmark close to the line was easy to see and it was easy to determine if the ball had touched any part of the line. We had very few disputes over line calls! When the Volvo moved to Stratton Mountain, VT, on hard courts, the brooms were put away.
    Sean Sloane

    Sean, great idea! Now, just get the pros to do it. thanks, george

  5. Footnote: While the Challenge system has entertainment value for some fans (not I), I advocate getting rid of it and utilizing technology for replay of every ball hit close to a line. Dispense of the lines people! Keep the umpire.

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