There won’t be any more arguing with line judges over calls at tennis tournaments on the ATP men’s tour as of 2025 — because there won’t be any more line judges at those events by then.
The London-based ATP announced Friday that it will use Electronic Line Calling Live — known as ELC Live — for all “out” calls in all matches beginning two years from now. Each match still will be overseen by a chair umpire, but the line judges who used to be entrusted with determining where shots landed will no longer be present on court.
It represents the next step toward relying on technology for line calls in a process that gained speed at the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals, when ELC Live was first tried on the men’s tour.
The St. Petersburg, Florida-based WTA women’s tennis tour has not made any announcements regarding any plans for electronic calls at its tournaments. A WTA spokesperson wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Friday: “This is something that we have been reviewing and are very interested in.”
Line judges were used at fewer and fewer sites during the coronavirus pandemic that began in 2020, including at the Australian Open and U.S. Open, Grand Slam tournaments that are not run by the ATP and thus do not need to adhere to the tour’s policies.
Electronic systems have been used mainly on hard courts and grass courts, but the ATP said its new policy will include every surface, including clay courts.
Some in the sport, including the French Open, where main-draw play begins on May 28, have resisted switching away from humans making calls because tennis balls leave marks in the clay that can be used to determine where a shot hit the ground.
“This is a landmark moment for our sport, and not one we’ve reached without careful consideration. Tradition is core to tennis and line judges have played an important part in the game over the years,” ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi said.
“That said, we have a responsibility to embrace innovation and new technologies,” Gaudenzi added. “Our sport deserves the most accurate form of officiating.”
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