As recently reported by USA Today, the WTA is agreement with Grand Slam organisers and the International Tennis Federation to develop one of the more ridiculous innovations in professional tennis – a grunt-o-meter.
Although refusing to call it a grunt-o-meter and preferring the term “a kind of Hawk-Eye for noise”, WTA CEO Stacy Allaster is all for the development of a handheld device that will measure on-court grunting levels, particularly since a new rule aims to be established within professional tennis that will set acceptable and unacceptable noise levels when on court.
Allaster and the WTA have consulted a varied selection of “experts” ranging from sports science professionals to coaches and players including the Williams sisters, to find a way of objectively measuring noises made on court. Although there is currently a rule in place for hindrance, Allaster believes that it is simply too subjective, and is as equally unfair to athletes as it is to chair umpires who have to enforce the rule – “What is too loud? What is too long? We need to give the official an objective measurement tool….It’s not fair to athletes, the chair or the sport”.
These experts have also confirmed that attempting to implement the use of such a device for the current generation of players will “have a clear, damaging effect on performance” and as such they will remain unaffected by any new rules limiting their guttural expressions.
For all Allaster’s claims that a grunt-o-meter will help improve the sport, it’s funny that there are no similar development from the ATP, despite the regular on-court howls, groans, grunts and roars that its top male players make. Just how such a rule, or such a device, is likely to improve the level of women’s tennis also remains to be seen, despite Allasters calls that “it’s time for us to drive excessive grunting out of the game for future generations”. We’d love to know what you think about this subject, is the grunt-o-meter likely to remain a novelty just like the recently outlawed blue clay or are you in agreement with the woman charged with publicising and prompting the sport of women’s tennis?