SBD/March 30, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

WTA To Focus On Combating Grunting In Next Generation Of Players

Azarenka told a reporter last month grunting is "natural to me"
The WTA Thursday said that "grunting is a problem in women's tennis but is throwing in the towel when it comes to the current crop of offenders, choosing to concentrate instead on future generations," according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. In board meetings last weekend at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., tour leadership "agreed to focus on education and enforcement of existing rules for up-and-coming players." The WTA said that after "consulting with experts such as Nick Bollettieri it would be unfair to make current pros alter their breathing mechanics." WTA CMO Andrew Walker said that the "details and implementation of its strategy remain a work in progress." Robson reports no consensus was reached "about what age to introduce training or stricter enforcement." Grunting has come "under scrutiny due to the loud and elongated noise made by top players" such as current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and No. 2 Maria Sharapova. The WTA at this year's Australian Open said that it "hoped to have a full plan in place by its meetings this month." However, that has been "pushed back to the U.S. Open in August" (USA TODAY, 3/30). In Miami, Linda Robertson wrote Marion Bartoli's upset of Azarenka in the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinals Wednesday was a "victory for the soft-spoken," as Bartoli "hardly makes a peep when she plays." Robertson wrote when players grunt loudly, the "volume and length of the sounds detracts from the game." Fans "shouldn’t have to plug their ears or mute their TV to enjoy a match." Nor should "quiet opponents such as Bartoli have to listen to noise pollution." Azarenka told a reporter last month grunting is "natural to me." Robertson: "Since when is screeching on every single shot at the same decibel level of a subway train or jackhammer natural?" It is "past time to silence the excessive noise." The WTA "recognizes that fans find grunting to be a turnoff" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/29).
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