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WTA Tour to trial electronic line calls on clay

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Paris (AFP)

The WTA Tour said Tuesday it would introduce electronic line calling for the first time on clay, starting with April's event in Charleston.

The decision comes just days after the ATP Tour announced a similar initiative, with players previously unable to challenge line calls on clay like on hard and grass courts.

Umpires have instead checked the marks the ball makes on the red dirt, causing numerous controversies with officials at times struggling to identify the correct spot.

Players at the South Carolina tournament will have three challenges per set, using the same protocols as those on other surfaces and there will be no ball mark inspections.

The women's circuit will also trial coaching from the player box at next month's Dubai Tennis Championships and the Hungarian Ladies Open in Debrecen.

The experiment will allow coaches to "provide input to their player through verbal encouragements, hand signals or quick coaching tips consistent with the manner they currently engage with a player from the box and now without penalty," read a WTA statement.

However, any detailed coaching conversation must take place through existing rules, which permit a player to request their coach to visit their bench once a set.

"The WTA has always embraced the opportunity to introduce new technology and innovations to enhance women's tennis, and we're excited to see where these trials take the sport," said WTA chief executive Steve Simon.

"We're hopeful these provisional changes will have a positive impact in improving the overall playing environment and upgrading the way fans can enjoy the WTA Tour."

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