By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday, June 22, 2022
A day after the ATP has announced its decision to allow off-court coaching in the second half of the 2022 season, personalities are expressing their long-held beliefs on the subject.
As expected, not everybody agrees.
Tennis loses the distinction of being the one sport that forces its players to think for themselves during competition, without the help of a coach, but it rids itself of the potential conflicts that arise when players do recieve coaching illegally, as we saw in the 2018 US Open final, when Serena Williams was punished for receiving (albeit unprompted) coaching from Patrick Moratoglou.
Not surprisingly, Mouratoglou was one of the coaches that came out strongly in favor of the ATP’s decision to make a rule change with regard to off-court coaching.
“No more hypocrisy,” he tweeted.
Others don’t see it that way.
Nick Kyrgios was quick to reply to Mouratoglou’s tweet with his own unique take. Keep in mind, Kyrgios has long operated without a coach, so doesn’t stand to benefit from the new rules.
“Completely disagree,” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter. “Loses one of the only unique traits that no other sport had. The player had to figure out things on his own. That was the beauty of it. What happens if a high profile player versus a low ranked player who doesn’t have or afford a coach?”
Completely disagree. Loses one of the only unique traits that no other sport had. The player had to figure out things on his own. That was the beauty of it. What happens if a high profile player versus a low ranked player who doesn’t have or afford a coach?
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 22, 2022
When the experiment begins after Wimbledon, not much will be different to the casual viewer. Coaches must remain in their designated seats. They will be permitted to use as many hand signals as they like, and verbal coaching is allowed—when the player is on the same side of the court as his coach.
It is rare to see players without coaches on tour these days, and even players without coaches can receive coaching from the people sitting in their box during the match, which could benefit them as much as a hand signal or a few words of encouragement from an “official” coach.
But those who appreciate the deep connection fostered between a hired coach and his charge, know it is not the same.
Has the sport done itself a disservice by making the playing field less level than it was before? Many think yes.
I can’t possibly see how an appointed coach would be in-tune to the nuances of what the player’s been working on at practice for weeks, let alone be familiar with the intricacies of communicating properly with the player in question.
— Mert Ertunga (@MertovsTDesk) June 22, 2022
On the surface, the before and after might even go unnoticed to casual viewers. And it’s hard to imagine a giant surge in the entertainment value of television broadcasts due to the addition of “off-court coaching.”
So why the change?
If there is any advantage, players and umpires will be able to take steps toward eliminating the constant haggling and potential favoritism that occurs during matches. Does Rafael Nadal get different treatment than Stefanos Tsitsipas? Will that change, given that the new rules will allow Tsitsipas and his father and coach Apostolos a longer leash?
The new rules will make it easier for umpires and coaches to avoid a potentially cataclysmic situation like the one that transpired between Carlos Ramos and Serena Williams in 2018.
Something we can all agree on: nobody wants to see something like that happen again.
By the end of the year, we’ll see if Kyrgios was right and some of the essential, gladiatorial beauty has gone from the sport.
And for now we’ll debate…