Chalk dust

I was talking to myself!

It’s that time of year again where players face each other from opposite ends of a grass court, whacking a ball at each other over the net. The financial stakes are so high that everyone is as dense as the strings in their rackets. Arguments ensue over whether or not the ball was in. Fortunes can be won or lost on a puff of chalkdust.

This is why there has been the gradual introduction of technology into tennis, especially in the grass game where it is much more difficult to see where the ball has landed compared to on a clay court. Hawkeye plays a major role in the modern game. During each set both players are given three opportunities to challenge a decision by the line judges where the receiving player thinks the ball was out or when the serving player believes it was in. Get it right and they keep their opportunity, get it wrong and they lose one of them.

When Hawkeye is called into play, the game stops and the players and crowd get a chance to watch the ball float along its trajectory and land where it had during the point. It is pure theatre.

If Hawkeye can do this the why is it not used much more extensively? Much of what is shown in the replay is to heighten the tension yet the technology will be able to tell instantaneously whether the ball was out. There are ten line judges, at least, around the major games and these could be replaced by computation. No more ifs or buts. The ball is in our out.

The technology could also be used for time penalties, the use of bad language and any other infringement of the rules you could think of. The need for an umpire could also be questioned though I suspect there will always be some element of human intervention required.

Think of the savings that technology could bring to the game of tennis but then it would only take a small hack to change the result. Perhaps not then.

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