Top WTA players cool toward on-court coaching
By ERICA BULMAN, AP Sports Writer
October 17, 2006
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- Amelie Mauresmo wants tennis coaches to stay in the stands. Maria Sharapova had no idea coaches were even allowed on the court.
Both players are competing at the Zurich Open, one of five tournaments where the WTA Tour is testing this rule change.
"Are they're doing that here?" Sharapova said Tuesday. "I didn't know."
Coaching during matches has been barred from ATP, WTA and Grand Slam tournaments. But in an attempt to make tennis more fan friendly, the women's tour tried on-court coaching this season in Montreal; New Haven, Connecticut; and Stuttgart, Germany. The fifth event will be in Linz, Austria, next week.
Players may request their coach on court once each set as well as during a set break. Coaching timeouts are conducted during the time allowed for changeovers, and those called between sets are limited to regular midset intervals.
Coaches wear microphones so TV viewers can hear the consultations, but many top players dislike the concept altogether.
"I'm not favorable to that system," said Mauresmo, who is ranked No. 1. "I think the very essence of tennis historically -- and perhaps I'm a little conservative when it comes to changing the rules of tennis -- is finding the keys and solutions oneself on the court. It's what makes the beauty of the sport. It's saying, 'I'm alone. What do I do?' To have outside help is a bit of a shame for that aspect of the game."
Sharapova, like Mauresmo, said she would forgo help from her coach this week unless she was "desperate."
"I don't support it. Our sport is an individual sport and you play by instinct," the No. 3-ranked Russian said. "That's what makes it so good, is that you're the one who has to decide what you're going to do. If you're calling your coach down, it's a little strange. It's like you're telling your opponent, 'I need some help."'
Sharapova was at the center of controversy for receiving help from her father, Yuri, and hitting partner Mike Joyce at this year's U.S. Open, where on-court coaching is forbidden. The two men sent apparent signals to her, including holding up four fingers or waving a banana.
After winning the tournament, Sharapova said she sometimes forgets to drink as much as she should to stay hydrated, and the hand signals were meant as a reminder.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded third in Zurich, was a little more receptive to on-court coaching.
"It's something new and we need to test it," Kuznetsova said. "It's good to try things that can bring more fans to tennis and make it more fun to watch on TV."
"But I'm not sure it will help," she added. "I already tried it and it's really confusing. I'm there thinking and worrying, 'Should I call my coach for help or not?' I need to play a couple of tournaments like this."
Obviously she always needs help from her opponent (Peer) or coaching from the stands (four fingers)! What hypocrisy Maria.....