Women's tour doubles fines for late withdrawals
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The WTA will double fines on players pulling out of events without adequate notice as part of a series of rule changes dealing with the increasing number of late withdrawals by top players on the women's tennis tour.
Late withdrawal fines will be doubled to a maximum of $40,000 for third and subsequent late withdrawals under a rule change adopted by the WTA Board meeting in Madrid, the tennis tour announced on Wednesday.
Other initiatives include reducing the minimum tournament commitment requirement from 13 to 12 events, including two chosen by the Tour for each player, and a mandate that autumn events will be played using the same type of surface and ball.
"Today's package of reforms is an important step forward to ensure that we are able to deliver to fans and tournaments the players that they want and deserve to see on the court, and to protect the health of our players," WTA Tour chief Larry Scott said in a statement.
"The data on player withdrawals caused by injury and fatigue is undeniable, and the solutions are equally clear to our players, tournaments and partners -- a shorter season, more breaks for players and reduced requirements on top players."
The commitment requirement for players on the Tour for 12 years or more is also being reduced by one tournament and there will be an option for players aged 30 or older to have their minimum commitment consist of only four Tier I events.
The testing of on-court coaching will continue at all top level Tour events following the Australian Open up until the French Open at Roland Garros in 2007.
The Tour plans to propose legalising coaching from the stands. Citing difficulty in policing coaching, it will set parameters to ensure no disruption or interference with play.
"Sport lives or dies by the fan experience, and I am very excited that 2007 will bring our fans more excitement and accessibility than ever before," Scott said.
"Our on-court coaching test this past fall (autumn) showed us that fans and broadcasters like the added drama that live coaching brings to the game."
Updated on Wednesday, Nov 15, 2006 1:13 pm EST