The 2009 ASB Classic featuring new singles and doubles sponsors Kia Motors will be the first tournament in the world to have on-court coaching allowed as part of the new Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Roadmap.
On-court coaching will be used at all events in 2009, following approval by the Tour Board at its US Open meeting of this fan entertainment innovation. The January 5-10 ASB Classic is the first event of the year.
The decision to implement on-court coaching follows extensive testing of the concept and strong support from broadcasters, sponsors and tournaments and majority support from the Tour’s Players’ Council.
Under the new rule, players can request their coach once per set, either on a changeover or at the end of a set. In addition, a player may request her coach if her opponent has requested a medical timeout or change of attire/toilet break. All coaches called on court during televised matches will be required to wear a microphone to capture the coaching conversation for TV viewers.
The nominated coach has to be named in advance of the match. It can be another player if the competitor does not have a coach available.
The move has been tested over the past two years at various WTA events.
ASB Classic Tournament Director, Brenda Perry believes the on-court move will add something to the tournament and create even greater intrigue for the sport.
“It’s a step outside the traditional tennis box. It’s vital that tennis continues to evolve to be more fan, television and sponsor friendly. It’s great the ASB Classic is one of the first two tournaments worldwide to introduce this new innovation,” said Perry “Player-wise we’re aiming for a some top quality players to be announced by mid October. The expectations are for a mix of new faces and familiar favourites.”
At a current ranking of 51 in singles and a career-high 53 in doubles after taking away the Japan Open title over the weekend New Zealand No1 Erakovic will be certain of a main draw position in the ASB Classic with three wildcards available for the highly-sought after places in the 32-player field.
Erakovic reached the singles semifinals of the 2008 ASB Classic.
The ASB Classic featuring the Kia Motors singles and doubles will be played at the ASB Tennis Centre January 5-10, with qualifying January 3-4.