Bad idea if you ask me, I think the fact that tennis players are on there own make the game more interesting to casual sports fans who arent used to players being totally independent. I think it take away from the appeal. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tenn...htm?POE=SPOISVA WTA to allow coaches to offer in-match advice Posted 7/13/2006 11:00 PM With the approval of on-court coaching on a trial basis by the WTA, Amelie Mauresmo, who climbed into the stands to celebrate with coach Loic Courteau after her Wimbledon championship, may not have to travel so far to greet him. swapContent('firstHeader','applyHeader');By Douglas Robson, Special for USA TODAY Five months after the debut of instant replay, tennis will experiment with a second significant innovation: on-court coaching. The concept — in which players will be able to summon coaches courtside during changeovers and between sets — will be tested next month by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at tournaments in Montreal and New Haven, Conn. The tour expects to test the system in singles and doubles. It is part of a broader push to enliven the sport for television audiences and fans by peeling back the inner workings of the game. "It gives commentators and producers some more color, another actor in the play, a peek behind the curtain," says WTA CEO Larry Scott, who expects more extensive testing to take place in 2007. Many sports have embraced fan-oriented modifications, but tradition-bound tennis has been slow to change. The introduction of electronic line calling to review disputed line calls — a system that made its debut in March at the Nasdaq-100 and will be rolled out for the North American hardcourt swing and the U.S. Open — was the most dramatic rules change since the tiebreaker came into use in 1970. "For a sport that hasn't been known for a lot of change, this signals a major shift of culture and energy," Scott says. With the exception of team events such as Fed Cup and World Team Tennis, coaching during play is illegal. However, competitors have long circumvented the rules with signals and other manners of rule-breaking communication from the sideline. Under the trial system, players will nominate a coach before a tournament begins. Players can then request to speak to that person once per set during a sit-down changeover, and also in-between sets. A player could thus receive strategic advice or encouragement a maximum of five times in a three-set match. In addition, if a player takes an injury timeout or a bathroom break, her opponent can use the pause to talk with her designated coach. The conversations will be recorded and broadcast for viewers, adding additional insights into the game. "There are definite seeds of change, and a willingness to try new innovative and creative things," says Jason Bernstein, director of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, which broadcasts more than 600 hours of tennis annually. Bernstein says some of the details have to be ironed out — such as conversations in foreign languages that might be unintelligible to an American audience. Still, he sees it as a positive "baby step." "We would like to see more of these initiatives come to fruition and bring viewers close to the action," Bernstein says. The idea of on-court coaching has been bounced around for years by tennis officials and is sure to be a lightning rod for proponents and critics alike. Scott is aware skeptics will say the change fundamentally alters one of the game's defining characteristics: once a player steps on the court he or she is alone. But he notes that even sports considered individual have strategic interludes from coaches. Golfers hash over shot selection with their caddies. Boxers receive counsel from their corners between rounds. "I don't subscribe to the notion that just because there is coaching it takes away from mano-a-mano aspect of the sport," Scott says. Fairness is another issue, since many rank-and-file players can't afford to travel with coaches. Following the successful launch of instant replay, players and tournaments seem more open to change. "Maybe there is always a little risk," says 2004 U.S. Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, "but hopefully it will work well." "We are just as curious as the rest of the tennis world to see how players, fans and coaches will react," says Montreal tournament director Eugene Lapierre, who believes on-court coaching might help eradicate much of the illegal coaching that now goes on. Anne Worcester, the tournament director for the combined men's and women's Pilot Pen event in New Haven, says that tennis needs to break new ground to stay competitive for consumers' entertainment dollars. "Even the purists have woken up to the fact that if we don't move forward we will fall further behind," she says.