Back in 2009, the WTA elected to allow on court coaching for the players of the WTA professional tour. We’ve all seen it happen and while it does offer an interesting perspective to the viewers, does it really benefit the players receiving coaching during a tennis match? I would like to say that it absolutely does not help at all; especially considering the fact we’re talking about professional tennis players.
Let me take Jelena Jankovic this past weekend during her finals match against Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati; Jankovic was down 1-4 in the opening set and eventually turned the tables to take the first set and an early lead in the second. As soon as Jelena began losing in the second set, she called for her coach, who promptly appeared at her side on the changeover. I didn’t catch everything he said, but she did seem to get a little momentum after the pep-talk. However; I didn’t see a change in her play, it was the same game plan she had the entire day. Jankovic did end up losing the tennis match. So did the on-court coaching help her? Apparently not.
Why didn’t it help? Well, Jankovic has been playing tennis since age 9, imagine how many tennis balls she’s hit in that time. Imagine how many practice matches, junior matches, ITF matches, and WTA matches she has played in her lifetime; she shouldn’t need coaching midway through a tennis match at this point in her career. She should already know what is not working for her and what she should stay away from, yet she insisted in having her coach down to talk to her. Of course not all players take advantage of this rule, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Serena’s coach come down during a tennis match to tell her what’s working or not; probably because she has the game plan already mapped out in her head.
The real argument here is, is on court coaching fair? The players on the ATP tour are not allowed coaching during a match. That’s awfully peculiar, why not? I’ve tried to contact all governing bodies of tennis to get an answer, however; I haven’t received a response at this time. I would very much like to know the reasoning behind it.
To clarify, these are the official rules directly from the WTA & ATP rulebook:
- WTA: Provided the following rules and procedures are followed, a player may
request that her coach go on-court during a match to provide coaching.
During televised matches, microphones will be positioned to capture
on-court coaching and player responses, which may be used for
live television broadcasts.
- ATP: Players shall not receive coaching during a tournament match.
Communications of any kind, audible or visible, between a player and a
coach may be construed as coaching.
How are these rules fair? Why can’t ATP players receive coaching? It could help a player be inspired while deep in the 5th set of a major, it could be a deciding factor to pull out of a match if something isn’t right, it could be a factor to many outcomes. Yet, I can’t seem to get a direct answer to why the ATP doesn’t allow coaching.
What do you think? Should the WTA remove the coaching rule? Or should the ATP adopt the coaching rule? However; you look at it, it’s an added advantage for the WTA…..