McEn­roe

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS -

2012 — is well­known for his fiery dis­putes with ten­nis of­fi­cials. McEn­roe, who turns 59 Fri­day, of­ten used his on-court out­bursts as mo­ti­va­tion en route to win­ning seven Grand Slam sin­gles ti­tles, nine ma­jor dou­bles ti­tles and 149 tour­na­ments over­all dur­ing his Hall of Fame ca­reer. But some­times — such as the 1990 Aus­tralian Open, when McEn­roe was dis­qual­i­fied for not re­mem­ber­ing how many warn­ings it took to get tossed — tem­per tantrums de­railed his quest for ti­tles.

“Some­times I thought I was jus­ti­fied; other times per­haps I was reach­ing for straws,’’ McEn­roe said. “I don’t know, what­ever way you want to look at it, to me, I built up this ‘Well, they’re go­ing to screw me’ type of at­ti­tude, and ‘I can’t trust them.’ ’’

McEn­roe, who also plays on Jim Courier’s Pow­erShares se­nior cir­cuit where re­tired ATP Tour play­ers call their own lines, was asked if his ca­reer would’ve been bet- ter or worse if the hu­man el­e­ment was taken out of line-call­ing.

“I be­lieve I would’ve been se­cure in know­ing that I’d get an op­por­tu­nity to get an­other look at (a po­ten­tial) tour­na­ment-win­ning or los­ing call in cer­tain cases,’’ said McEn­roe. “There’s only a hand­ful of calls in a match where the play­ers aren’t re­ally sure whether it’s in or out, or the umpire or lines­men had made an hon­est mis­take.

“I feel like I would’ve been 15 or 20 per­cent prob­a­bly bet­ter player, but I would’ve been more bor­ing and maybe I wouldn’t be talk­ing to you now or maybe I wouldn’t have had the op­por­tu­ni­ties I had with com­men­tary or (to) do some other things in my life.’’

The only other ATP event to rely strictly on elec­tronic line-call­ing, along with a chair umpire to over­see the match, was the 2017 Next Gen ATP Fi­nals con- tested be­tween 21-and-un- der stars last Novem­ber in Mi­lan. While the ATP used that as a trial run for possi- bly elim­i­nat­ing line judges in the fu­ture, the Hawk-EyeLive ex­per­i­ment in Del­ray Beach was sug­gested by tourna- ment founder/di­rec­tor Mark Baron and ap­proved by the Cham­pi­ons Tour.

“If there’s a tech­nol­ogy that makes of­fi­ci­at­ing bet­ter, we owe it to them to try it,” Gayle Brad­shaw, ATP Ex­ecu- tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Rules and Com­pe­ti­tion, said last Novem­ber. “The tour will have to take a look at the at­mos­phere. Does it make it too ster­ile? Does it take away from the game or add some­thing to the game? If this is able to do the job and with ac­cu­racy, and it ends up as a cost sav­ing to the tour­na­ments, it would be hard to keep it out of the game.”

Jack Sock, 25, the de­fend­ing cham­pion and top seed at the Del­ray Beach Open, wasn’t ready to rec­om­mend or re­ject the elim­i­na­tion of line judges. “It would ob­vi­ously take out some of the ques­tion­ing some­times and any ar­gu­ments some play­ers have with refs,’’ Sock said, but “there would def­i­nitely have to be a trial pe­riod and a ma­jor­ity (of play­ers would have to) like it. I don’t think it can be an overnight thing.’’

A chair umpire would still be needed to have the fi­nal word on un­usual calls such as foot faults, dou­ble-bounces, whether a player il­le­gally touches the net on his fol­low-through, or if a ball grazes a player or any part of his cloth­ing.

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