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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 22, 2022

 
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Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Chrissie Evert offer blunt assessment of the ATP's move to trial coaching from the stands starting next month.

Photo credit: ESPN Media Zone

Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Chrissie Evert were supreme problem-solvers in their playing days.

Neither former world No. 1 views the ATP trialing coaching from the stands as troubling for tennis.

Patrick Mouratoglou: ATP Coaching Rule Ends Hypocrisy

In a Zoom call with the media today to promote ESPN's Wimbledon coverage starting Monday, Tennis Now asked both iconic champions their reaction to the ATP allowing "off-court" coaching. Neither ESPN analyst regards the rule change as a big deal.

The ATP announced it will permit coaching from designated seats at the stands starting from the week of July 11th, 2022 as part of a test that will span the second half of the season. The trial includes the US Open and will run through to the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in Turin in November.

McEnroe called the concept of coaching from the stands "comical" and "BS."

The man who held the world No. 1 ranking in singles and doubles simultaneously said in his view most of the time coaching from the stands is ineffictive. Additionally, McEnroe believes many players use coaches as verbal punching bags or fall guys to vent on when things go wrong.

"The coaching is BS anyway. Most of the time the player is not even listening to the coach," McEnroe told Tennis Now. "It’s funny you see the player yelling at him and screaming at the coach: “It’s your fault! You gave me the wrong advice!” All that crap “You’re fired!” I mean this happens all the time.

"It’s comical. If, God forbid, they said something that made sense, okay."

McEnroe says hand signals from coaches to players are so prevalent on the pro tour it's like seeing a third base coach flash signals to a batter in baseball.

"I think pretty much every player on tour has a coach now—except for Kyrgios—in the men’s and women’s draw," McEnroe told Tennis Now. "I sort of like this idea because they do it anyway. They’re like third base coaches in baseball with the signals.

"Who knows what the hell they’re doing? It doesn’t even matter ultimately to me, but that’s just me.”



Chrissie Evert, whose father Jimmy Evert was her first coach and who coaches herself at the Evert Academy, has long been a traditionalist opposing coaching on court or from the stands.

However, Evert, who won at least one Grand Slam singles crown every year for an astounding 13 consecutive years, said coaching is so common now she favors permitting it from the box.

"I just don’t think that you can ever go back to no coaching,” Evert told Tennis Now. “Like John says: Everybody coaches. Everybody’s got signals. It’s a very sophisticated thing now, you’re going like this [rubs the brim of her baseball cap], you’re going like this [makes a hand signal] You’re looking at your hand.

"Every coach is telling their player what to do. So you probably need to open it up a little more. I’m not against that at all. The US Open has probably been the most progressive, the most advanced Grand Slam tournament."

In an effort to expand tennis' popularity as a spectator sport, Evert says permitting coach can engage viewers more deeply in matches and make tennis a more entertaining television sport.

"I’d like to see interviews on court in between sets with the players. Coco Gauff wins a set 6-1 and Pam Shriver goes up to her and asks her one question," Evert told Tennis Now. "Is that gonna turn the momentum around and change the complexion of the match? No, the more we can think of these little things for entertainment for the viewers and the crowd I think it would be fantastic.

"I was kind of the establishment before. I was like ‘No! No coaching! You gotta do it yourself!' But if everyone’s coaching anyway, so if it’s done in a restrained way I’m fine with it."

ESPN will present exclusively and in its entirety The Championships, Wimbledon from the All England Lawn Tennis Club next Monday, June 27. In addition to television coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 and streaming on ESPN+ and ESPN3, for the first time in history, ABC will broadcast live matches.


ESPN Highlights: All Day, Daily Coverage (All Times ET)

June 26: ESPN2, 12 p.m., the official Wimbledon 2021 review film

June 27 – July 10: Press Conferences from Media Centre available on ESPN+ and ESPN3 starting at 6 a.m. (5 a.m. on June 27). Also, ESPN+ and ESPN3 will carry the daily, all-day Wimbledon Uncovered from AELTC.

June 27-July 1: ESPN, first three rounds, 6 a.m.

July 2-3 the “middle weekend:”
ESPN, 7 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon

Round Three: ESPN, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., ABC, 1 – 4 p.m.

Round of 16: ESPN, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., ABC, 1 – 4 p.m.

July 4-6 “Cross Court Coverage”
July 4: Round of 16 (Centre Court), ESPN, 8 a.m.; Round of 16 (No. 1 Court & Outer Courts), ESPN2, 6 a.m.

July 5: Quarterfinals (Centre Court), ESPN, 8 a.m.; Quarterfinals (No. 1 Court), ESPN2, 8 a.m.

July 6: Quarterfinals (Centre Court), ESPN, 8 a.m.; Quarterfinals (No. 1 Court), ESPN2, 8 a.m.

July 7-10:
All ESPN

Breakfast at Wimbledon begins each day

July 7: Ladies’ Semifinals 8 a.m.; Mixed Doubles Championship,1 p.m.

July 8: Gentlemen’s Semifinals, 8 a.m.

July 9: Ladies’ Championship 9 a.m.; Gentlemen’s Doubles Championship, 11:30 a.m. Encore of Ladies’ Championship on ABC at 3 p.m.

July 10: Gentlemen’s Championship, 9 a.m.; Ladies’ Doubles Championship, 12:00 p.m. Encore of Gentlemen’s Championship on ABC at 3 p.m.


 

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