Hawk-Eye at Hopman Cup
Line calling technology will make its debut Down Under next month. The Hyundai Hopman Cup will be the first International Federation event to use Hawk-Eye, the ball tracking system that has made history as the first — and only — electronic line-calling system to meet ITF accuracy standards. The 2006 Hopman Cup will be held at the Burswood Dome in Perth, Australia, December 30-January 6th.
The ITF announced that Hawk-Eye will be used as a line-calling system at the 18th annual international mixed team competition. Players will be allowed to "challenge point-ending line calls" at the Hopman Cup, according to the ITF. Large video screens mounted at both ends of the court will provide Hawk-Eye's analysis of disputed line calls to give players and spectators immediate resolution to the challenges.
The technology, which uses cameras to track the ball’s trajectory and sends information to a virtual reality machine, has been used at Grand Slam and ATP Tennis Masters Series events for the past three years, but only on television as an analytical tool for commentators. Now, following ITF approval on October 12th, it will be used to aid umpires with disputed line calls. The revolutionary technology will be used for the first time ever at a major men’s tennis tournament when it makes an appearance at the senior circuit's Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall November 29th-December 4th followed by its ITF debut at Hopman Cup.
"Calling lines is a tough job — everyone wants it to be left to the ability of the players to decide the outcome of a match and now Hawk-Eye can help make that happen," Hopman Cup tournament director Paul McNamee said. "The Hopman Cup has always been an innovative tournament. It was the first elite level event to introduce electronic line calling 12 years ago and now is the first to introduce this latest technological advance. There`s no doubt the likes of Safin, Gaudio, Johansson and Kuznetsova, who've won at the ultimate level, will ensure the sternest of examination of this groundbreaking initiative. The sport is ready for this innovation, and we`re confident Hawk-Eye is ready too. Bring it On!"
The move may be the first step toward eventually implementing Hawk-Eye in Grand Slam competition. McNamee, who is also Australian Open Chief Executive, told Tennis Week Tennis Australia officials do not plan to use Hawk-Eye at the 2006 Australian Open, but Tennis Australia has not ruled out the possibility of using the technology in the future after it has been tested in tournament play.
"(It is) highly unlikely we'll use (Hawk-Eye) in January," McNamee told Tennis Week. "But (we will) certainly consider (it) for future (use)."
Australian Open officials want to see Hawk-Eye function in tournament competition as a testing ground so that potential problems with the system can be be resolved before it is implemented in Grand Slam play. Given the fact Hawk-Eye was officially approved five weeks ago, Tennis Australia officials have not had time to extensively test Hawk-Eye, however using it at Hopman Cup will provide players and officials the opportunity to experiment with Hawk-Eye. Tennis Australia officials told Tennis Week the TA is receptive to using the system in the future after it has been adequately tested in tournament play.
"(We will not use Hawk-Eye) this year, but it (is) something we certainly see as being introduced to the sport in the future," a Tennis Australia official told Tennis Week. "We would like to see the system mature before implementing it at Grand Slam level. We do not believe that during a Grand Slam that it is appropriate to test any new feature. We may, however, be looking to do some testing after the event."
Hawk-Eye has been used as a tool for television analysts at Hopman Cup for the past three years. Dr. Paul Hawkins, founder and managing director of Hawk-Eye, is confident the system is ready for tournament play.
"The ITF were delighted that we met their criteria with flying colors and, indeed, pushed the bar higher," Hawkins told Tennis Week. "We're delighted and proud to accept the responsibility to take the sport forward. Tennis needs accuracy in line calling and Hawk-Eye can provide it. We're thrilled that we were rewarded for all our hard work by passing the ITF's accuracy tests and now any event can use Hawk-Eye. We look forward to working with the tournaments."
Hawk-Eye has already taken its technology to televised tennis. If you've watched ESPN's tennis coverage then you've already seen Hawk-Eye at work. Branded "Shot Spot" by ESPN, Hawk-Eye earned an Emmy award in the "Outstanding Innovative Technical Achievement" category in 2003. The Emmy award came two years after Hawk-Eye claimed Britain's Royal Television Society award for technical innovation.
Senior tour standout, tennis television analyst and world-class arguer John McEnroe is pleased by the prospect of Hawk-Eye coming to court.
"I’m all for it, It’s about time it was introduced," McEnroe said. "Once again the Champions Tour is leading the way in innovations in the tennis circuit."
Last edited by Devotee; 11-28-2005 at 07:56 PM.