Tennis: Players divided over coaching experiment

9th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 9, 2007 (AFP) - Players have mixed feelings about the WTA's latest experiment with coaches, aimed at spicing up the game for spectators.

PARIS, Feb 9, 2007 (AFP) - Players have mixed feelings about the WTA's latest experiment with coaches, aimed at spicing up the game for spectators.

For several months, the WTA has allowed players to call on their coaches during matches.

But while some have taken to the new initiative, others have steadfastly blanked it.

Players at this week's Paris Indoor Open have been allowed to call their coach onto court between sets and during an opponent's injury or comfort breaks.

But while in previous tests coaches have been called in more than 60 percent of matches, many remain sceptical.

"I think this is an individual sport and you have to get by on your own," said French teenager Tatiana Golovin.

She did not call her coach Mark Wellington during either of her two straight sets victories over compatriot Alize Cornet or Russian 20-year-old Ekaterina Bychkova.

"I know it's a test and it's done for the fans but I'm against it."

That seems to be a common sentiment against the younger players while more experienced heads have generally called for help.

Another French teenager, Aravane Rezai was also unwilling to call on help, despite going down in straight sets to the big-hitting Czech 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova in the first round.

Rezai is coached by her father but did not even let him travel from their home in St Etienne to Paris for the tournament.

"I don't want my father coaching by the court. I'm big enough and I want to play my own game," she said.

"If there's someone telling you what to do they might as well be playing instead of you. The pleasure I get from tennis is from playing my own game."

The idea, according to the WTA, is to: "Enhance the viewing experience of fans by engaging a new actor in the drama of a tennis match while also adding an additional element of strategy and content for broadcasters."

Many of older players have welcomed the move without necessarily wanting to take advantage of it.

Top seed and world number two Justine Henin feels she simply does not need to call her coach Carlos Rodrigues onto the court.

"I've been working with Carlos for 10 years and I don't need to speak to him to know what he wants me to do," she said.

"That might help with some players but I don't need it. I need to find the answers myself."

Second seed and world number three Amelie Mauresmo was not planning on calling over her coach Loic Courteau after taking the first set against Nathalie Dechy, but in the heat of the moment, she did.

"They're testing the system here and whether you win or lose the first set it's interesting to call him over," she said.

"I'm trying to go back to basics in my game and tactically and I just needed confirmation to put my finger on things.

"He did that well at the end of the first set. At this time it was good for me. It was an interesting time to call him but he was definitely surprised."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Tennis

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