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Ball kids to start serving towels to players again on ATP Tour

The sight of ball kids scurrying around handing towels to sweaty players was stopped as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with players instead fetching their own towels from the back of the court as and when required.
Last Updated : 09 July 2024, 17:19 IST

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London: Players on the ATP Tour will have their towels served to them by ball kids once again after the Wimbledon championships, the men's association confirmed on Tuesday.

The sight of ball kids scurrying around handing towels to sweaty players was stopped as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with players instead fetching their own towels from the back of the court as and when required.

Despite the move proving popular with tennis fans and pundits and concerns about hygiene, the ATP is making a U-turn and the new procedures will begin almost immediately.

An ATP source said that the automated shot clock, where players are limited to 25 seconds between points, starting from the conclusion of the previous point, is the reason.

They say reverting to ball kids handing towels to players will help "maintain the pace of play".

Trials of the automated shot clock, as against the chair umpire starting the timer when the score is called out, began at events after the French Open.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz complained at the Queen's Club tournament last month that he was being rushed between points and could not go through his usual routines.

"It's crazy. I have time just to ask for two balls and no bounces. I've never seen something like that in tennis," the Spaniard said at the time, saying he would talk to the ATP.

Women's governing body the WTA will review its own rules.

"We are aware of the decision made by the ATP," the WTA said in a statement.

"We will be going through a review process to determine if there will be any change to our current position on this subject."

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Published 09 July 2024, 17:19 IST

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