U.S. Open officials have abandoned plans to debut electronic line-calling at this year's tournament after tests of the new technology failed to establish its reliability and accuracy. But tournament officials aren't giving up on their pursuit of a computerized system that, at least in theory, could make egregious errors of judgment and player tantrums a thing of the past.
The move toward electronic line-calling was prompted by last year's U.S. Open quarterfinal between Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams, in which a series of calls against Williams were shown on a replay board to have been wrong. U.S. Open officials later removed umpire Mariana Alves and apologized to Williams, who lost the match. They also formed a task force to study broader use of electronic line calls, with an eye toward making the 2005 U.S. Open the first Grand Slam event to use the technology.
The sport's international governing body, the International Tennis Federation, tested several line-calling systems in the past year, but none met its standards. According to a statement released by the ITF yesterday, the most recent test failed in three critical respects: staying within the maximum margin of error; making the correct call ("in" or "out"); and achieving consistent readings.
"Given that accuracy and reliability of the call has been the primary goal of this initiative, we will move forward only when an acceptable system is identified," USTA officials said in a statement.
-- Liz Clarke