Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Jim Courier (below) were joined on court by children from the ACEing Autism program last week in Los Angeles. (Alex Huggan [top]; Harvey Rubin [bottom])
Of this there can be no dispute: the PowerShares Series, now in its 10th year, continues to give back through the game that has given its participants so much. Consider the first two events of this year’s 30-and-over tour, in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. The throwback throwdowns featured Andre Agassi, James Blake, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis, andAndy Roddick—13 Grand Slam singles titles, four charitable foundations, and a charter school between them. In L.A., the players were joined on the court by fellow athletes fromACEing Autism, which teaches tennis to more than 500 autistic children each week at locations across the country.
Along with its other properties, Inside Out Sports + Entertainment, which heads the PowerShares Series, has raised more than $4 million for charity.
You can get a better idea of the charitable efforts made by some the PowerShares players in this video, which includes highlights of the matches in Salt Lake City.
All of the comments made by the players during their interviews were commendable, and should not be forgotten. But did you happen to catch what Agassi said after a Philippoussis serve whizzed by him at the 2:45 mark?
“No, no that had to have missed—you can’t serve like that!”
Agassi directed his displeasure at his opponent, and not at a linesman, for a perfectly valid reason: There are no linesmen in this year’s PowerShares Series.
“We’re really looking forward to playing with the new rules,” said Courier as the new season began. “Once we enlisted Hawk-Eye for the PowerShares Series we started thinking about how we could use them in a creative way.”
What Courier and Co. came up with was something that only John McEnroe could have dreamed of: The elimination of linesmen altogether. (Is it purely coincidence that McEnroe himself is the defending PowerShares Series champion?) With that also comes unlimited Hawk-Eye challenges, another rules alteration some current pros surely wish was available to them.
While players have only their pride to lose when challenging a close serve, that’s not the case during the run of play. They’ll need to stop the point and risk losing it if their challenge is found incorrect.
“Players calling their own lines with Hawk-Eye as the final arbiter should be quite interesting on a few levels,” said Courier. “It’s going to be a bit of an adjustment for me as a player to react to shots close to the line in a split second and also make a call if I think it’s out.
“I can’t wait to challenge anyone who calls it a little too close, especially Mac. It will be especially satisfying to challenge him and overrule one of his calls.”
Could this concept expand beyond the mostly friendly confines of the PowerShares Series? In an article by Ravi Ubha for CNN, Courier says that a USTA official will be attending the tour stop in Chicago this Thursday to see the linesmen-less format up close. And Philippoussis, for one, believes this experiment will be a precursor to eventual use at sanctioned tournaments.
Can there be too much challenging—or too few linesmen? These are questions we’re able to dispute, with Hawk-Eye having seamlessly been integrated into the highest levels of professional tennis over the past decade. Players and officials have embraced the replay system to such a degree that it’s odd when a point is unable to be challenged.
Regardless of Hawk-Eye’s influence on the game, there will always be correct and incorrect calls, and upheld or overruled challenges.
“Maybe we should have a prize for the player that wins the highest percentage of challenges,” suggests Courier, “and the prize is paid for by the player who is overruled the most? That would be pretty fun.”
Or, better yet, have that prize paid to the charity of the winner’s choosing. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 01, 2015 /by ED MCGROGAN
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