Cyclops has company as machine moves to replace net cord judge

John Roberts on the latest step in the march of tennis technology

That endangered species, the net cord judge, may soon be removed from the line of fire and replaced by technology. At Wimbledon and elsewhere there would be no more gritting of teeth and hoping not to be belted in the ear by a stray shot or knocked asunder by a careering player.

A sensor system developed in Germany has successfully completed a series of trials at tournaments on the men's international circuit, starting with the grass-court event in Halle in June and culminating at last week's ATP Tour Championship in Frankfurt.

Alan Mills, the Wimbledon referee, declared the system to have "worked beautifully" when officiating at the Eurocard Open in Essen recently.

Small sensors are placed at each end of the net and a cable is fitted to a hand control operated by the umpire, who presses a button when the server tosses the ball and releases it after the ball has crossed the net. A beep sounds if the ball touches the net cord.

Devised and manufactured by the Brauer brothers, who moved from east Germany to the Black Forest region, the machine has been fostered for the past two years by their compatriot Rudi Berger, one of the world's leading umpires.

The system is called Trinity, Berger explained, because of the three parties it was designed to help: "The umpire, the players, and somebody else who sits at the net and gets hurt."

Monitoring a net cord can be a high-risk pastime, especially when serves timed at up to 137mph induce reflex returns of a similar velocity. Helmets were used at the United States Open last year, but obviating the need for a person to put his or her neck on the line is a preferred option.

The absence of a human presence at the net has raised not the slightest protest from the players during the experiments conducted so far. "When the machine beeps the players seem to accept that the ball has made contact with the net cord," Berger said. "They don't raise their hands to show that the ball was at least a foot above the net, like they used to."

Wimbledon and the three other Grand Slam tournaments are showing a keen interest in Trinity, which could become as commonplace as Cyclops, the "magic eye" service-line machine invented 15 years ago by a Briton, Bill Carlton.

Cyclops, while prone to phantom beeps if the control button is pressed at the wrong moment, has prevailed, although John McEnroe once said to an umpire, "I don't want to sound paranoid, but that machine knows who I am."

Berger emphasised that Trinity's bleep is not as loud as Cyclops's and that the tone is different. "We wouldn't want any similarity. The players might become very upset if they heard a sound which reminded them that they had just served a fault."

Not all technological innovations have proved successful. TEL, an electronic line-calling system, was abandoned on the eve of the 1993 United States Open after metal objects caused the device to beep.

Player pressure persuaded officials to revise their original plan to use a skeleton crew of only three judges with an umpire on the four wired courts instead of the customary 10. One of the trinity would have monitored service net cords.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat