Coaches may give their input from stands

MIAMI • Coaches of women tennis players may soon be able to deliver instructions to their charges from the stands in one of the most radical rule changes to the game in years.

Although on-court coaching timeouts are permitted at Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tournaments, coaches are not allowed to communicate with their charges while sitting in the courtside box.

Players can be fined up to US$5,000 (S$6,993) for any violation of this and can even be disqualified if it is persistent, while coaches can be ejected from the court.

This has often caused consternation among some players and coaches, who cannot understand why tennis is so reluctant to allow the interaction, which is commonplace in other sports. WTA chief executive Steve Simon is looking at bringing an end to the rule.

One timeout per set, where coaches wearing microphones walk on to the court during a change of ends, has been allowed on the WTA Tour since 2009, but they are still no closer to being introduced at Grand Slam events.

"The on-court coaching has been positive," Simon said. "I want to look at it further. I don't know where it will go, but I am not understanding why we allow coaching on court but not from the box. There are some great personalities among the coaches that could be good for our sport. It's something that I would actually like to see expand."

Elena Vesnina had on-court coaching to thank when she won the biggest title of her career at Indian Wells last week. After having a chat with coach and father Sergey Vesnin, she reeled off four straight games before defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final.

But the Russian crashed out of the Miami Open on Friday after a shock 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 second-round loss to Croatian world No. 594 Ajla Tomljanovic.

Garbine Muguruza fared better. The Spaniard, who trailed 46th-ranked American Christina McHale 6-0, 3-2 when play was suspended on Thursday, emerged with a 0-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 victory.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'Coaches may give their input from stands'. Print Edition | Subscribe