Jun 27, 2012, 10:05 AM EDT
It’s an urban myth that Maria Sharapova grunts so loudly during tennis matches that she sets off car alarms. But the shrieks have been known to lure Bigfoot from the woods (I saw one in the will-call line at the Bank of the West Classic). Of course she’s not the only women’s player who grunts every time she hits the ball … and some men do it as well. And pro tennis is about fed up with it, because fans have been complaining.
So the World Tennis Association in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation and representatives of the four majors, have introduced a three-point plan to bring down the decibel level at matches, and hopefully eliminate grunting altogether in the future. The first part of this plan is my favorite:
The development of a handheld device — a kind of Hawk-Eye for noise — for umpires to objectively measure on-court grunting levels.
“I’m not going to use that word,” said WTA chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster in an interview Monday, when asked if the portable device would be akin to the grunt-o-meters sometimes used at Wimbledon to measure egregious offenders such as Monica Seles and top-ranked Maria Sharapova. “The bottom line is that we want to bring forward across all levels of competition an objective rule through use of technology to make it much easier for athletes and chair umpires.”
Other parts of the plan include a new rule setting acceptable and non-acceptable noise levels, and educational programs at the junior level to teach kids that grunting is not cool.
Here comes the WTA’s new mascot, Grunty the Rhino! Hit him with your racquets, kids!
The WTA points out that current top-tier pro players are exempt from the new rules, which they plan to phase in for the next generation of stars.
It will not be too soon. Every time I watch women’s tennis my pets flee into the forest.
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