Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rule Changes? Tennis According to McEnroe

By Luke Broadbent

During this year's French Open John McEnroe did some work for the pan-European television channel, Eurosport, where he took on the role of "Tennis Commissioner" to give his opinion on rule changes that should be implemented in the game of tennis, so here I cast my eye over them to see if they are any good.

No Lets

McEnroe has long pushed for the abolition of lets and just letting the point continue if the ball strikes the net and lands in the service box on a serve. I've seen arguments against this proposal which say that the server could win a lucky point if the balls hits the net and lands just over the net in the service box giving the receiver almost no chance of returning the ball. However, this can happen at any other time in the point, so I what's the big deal if it happens right at the start of the point?

I like this idea because the game will move along quicker and whilst it happens rarely, it can be frustrating watching a match that goes...

"Let, first service."

"Let, first service."

"Let, first service."

No Line Judges

As someone who spent his career arguing with calls made by judges and umpires it may not be surprising to see McEnroe advocate a system where players are the line judges. It may be a good idea in principle, but with so much money and prestige at stake in the game today, I don't think players can be trusted to have such responsibility regardless of how gentlemanly we think the game is, or should be.

Okay, we could possibly get away with it on clay where the mark of the ball is clearly visible but elsewhere I don't think it could work, even with Hawk-Eye now being an integral part of the game.

No Toilet Breaks

I think all fans have at some point been frustrated by what looks like an opportunistic toilet break by a player who has just lost a set to help break up the flow of the match and halt their opponent's march towards victory but this idea doesn't have much traction.

The same goes for injury timeouts, which can, at times, look dubious but this would require players to play on and injure themselves further or retire and deprive fans of a match that could've been completed had there been some kind of medical intervention. I do think that both the toilet break and injury timeout is open to abuse, and it probably is abused by some, but sadly it is necessary and something that we will just have to put up with.

No Toweling

The excessive use of the towel by some players is something I can't get my head round and I don't think I ever will. Some players will play a 10-second point and go for the towel to wipe their faces and then do it all over again after the next point. I can't believe these guys are sweating that much to justify the slowing up of the game the way some of them do, so I would advocate the use of towels only during the changeover.

These are just some some of the issues mentioned by McEnroe over the two weeks at the French Open and whilst some of his ideas some crazy at first I always think it is worth listening to anyone with ideas because the game can always be improved and I have a couple of ideas of my own, therefore this a topic I may revisit in the future.

Contents copyright © Sports Central 1998-2017