Tennis: Linesmen on the way out

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THE Australian Open is set to become the first Grand Slam tournament to replace line judges with technology, following a decision to test a new electronic line-calling system next January.

The hi-tech device will be installed, at a cost of about pounds 83,000, on the three show courts for the 1993 tournament on a trial basis.

'It's years ahead of anything else and we would not be bothering to experiment with it if in a couple of years we did not intend to use it,' the president of Tennis Australia, Geoff Pollard, said.

The Australian-designed electro-magnetic system is claimed by its inventors to be foolproof. It uses a series of metal detector-style antennae buried under the court which react to fine metal particles in the tennis ball to register when the ball is out.

The Tennis Electronic Lines (TEL) system was successfully tested at the United States Open this year in the over-35 event and will be used in the same category in Melbourne. It will not, however, be used in the main men's and women's events.