By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) – The International Tennis Federation is still opposed to on-court coaching outside of team competitions but the world governing body will use data from a WTA Tour trial this year to revisit the issue, ITF President David Haggerty has said.
The top women’s tour said last month that it would trial a new system at all Premier and International tournaments this year allowing coaches to help their players from the stands.
There are no plans to extend the trial to the Grand Slams or the men’s tour ATP.
The issue became a hot topic following the 2018 U.S. Open final when Serena Williams’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou gestured to the player during her defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows, leading to a code violation and sparking a heated row between the American great and the chair umpire.
“Right now, I’d say that status quo was probably where we are,” Haggerty told Reuters in an interview during the Australian Open in Melbourne.
“Watching this trial, and then we can in a year, with more data, be able to make some more informed decisions.”
The WTA, which allows players to call their coaches onto court at certain points during matches, will start its new trial during this month’s Dubai Duty Free Championships and the Hungarian Ladies Open.
“I think that often when you have changed, you have different sides of the argument. Some people don’t like it. Some people do like it,” said Haggerty, who was re-elected as ITF President in September.
“I think there are places for it. I believe very strongly that in Davis Cup and Fed Cup the captain coaching on court is a key part of the competition. But that’s a team environment. Individual may be a little bit different.
“I think our role is to make sure that we work with all the various bodies and then work together to make a smart decision.”
Coaches have welcomed the trial, with Mouratoglou calling the WTA Tour’s decision a step towards “recognition of our profession”.
The ITF has previously trialled on-court coaching at junior events and Haggerty said there was no discernible impact on results.
“We looked at it, did a study on the results of the players that used it, the matches that wasn’t used,” he said.
“We saw no difference in the results with a coach coming on court versus a match where you had no one come on court at the same time, five-three or whatever.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)