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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 June 2006, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Hawk-Eye's role at Wimbledon

By Nick Crowther

Hawk-Eye tracks the trajectory of the ball
Ten cameras will track the play on Centre and Number One courts

These are exciting times for Hawk-Eye.

In the past 12 months it has passed rigorous tests to gain the approval of the International Tennis Federation and made its debut as an officiating aid.

It will also be used for officiating at all the US Open series events this year (10 each on the men's and women's side), the US Open itself and is being considered by several more after that.

This could also be the last year of Wimbledon as we know it.

Behind the scenes, Hawk-Eye's work will be monitored with a view to using it officially for the 2007 championships.

"That's the hope - everyone's planning with that in mind," Hawk-Eye's inventor and managing director Paul Hawkins told BBC Sport.

"Whilst we're not an officiating aid [this year] they're beginning to plan for future years. We're halfway between being an enhancement of the television coverage and acting as an officiating tool."

A Hawk-Eye operator at the Albert Hall
Hawk-Eye made its debut to help judge line calls in December

Hawk-Eye's debut as an official aid for line-calls was at the Champions Tour event at the Royal Albert Hall last year.

And it was first used by the ATP and WTA at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami.

"Overall I was very pleased," Hawkins reflected. "Not for just how the system worked but the way that the players reacted to it - the umpires enjoyed it.

"It was then like an aid to their officiating rather than something they have to worry about.

"There was only one problem - unfortunately it was in a Federer match as he's probably one of the most reserved in terms of its profile.

"In his first match, which was the first television day, a cameraman came in and knocked the power, so for the time it takes to reboot the machine the system was down.

"It undermined it a little bit because the players have to be told immediately if something's down so that they can't challenge and that wasn't going to reflect that well."

But Hawkins remains positive even Federer will embrace the new technology eventually.

"I think he'll come round to be honest. He hasn't said he doesn't like it, he's just said time will tell - and I suppose that kind of puts the destiny into our own hands."

Hopefully for all elements of the sport there's a benefit

Paul Hawkins

Questions about Hawk-Eye being unsuitable for Wimbledon because of the lack of on-court big screens are dismissed.

"I think if they choose to do it they already have plans. There are ways to resolve that so that won't be a show-stopper," Hawkins added.

And, although there are different challenges for Hawk-Eye because of the grass surface, Hawkins says it's a difference the system can handle.

"That's one of the big benefits that we've got since we've been at all of the major events for the last four years," he said.

"We've had an opportunity to gain the practical experience and see the challenges that different surfaces cause and find ways of dealing with it."

In fact, Hawkins hopes Hawk-Eye will be used as an officiating aid at all events in future.

"That's certainly the way tennis is hoping it'll go," he said.

"I think there is a model that makes it a win for everyone because I think sponsors have expressed a big interest in getting behind it.

"So it's something that can generate money for the event, help the players, help the officials, add to the fans enjoyment.

"Hopefully for all elements of the sport there's a benefit."



SEE ALSO
Men's singles draw
23 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
23 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Wimbledon order of play
22 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Wimbledon on the BBC
20 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Hawk-Eye technology makes debut
22 Mar 06 |  Tennis


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