So along with the numerous changes and amendments now in place for the launch of the WTA's Roadmap 2010 next season (why don't they just change it to 'Roadmap 2009' already?!) there is an additional element being rolled out: "user pays" medical timeouts.
Essentially, the Tour's governing body "intends to cap the number of occasions players are permitted to call a trainer on court for an extended consultation and issue bills for any excess." How do they intend to do this? They have installed a cap of 6 or 7 medical time-outs for the year and plan to charge a 'nominal' fee, ranging from $100 at a smaller tourney to $500 at the biggest, for anything above the cap. However, the four majors will be exempt from the "user pays" system.
WTA vice-president of operations Peter Johnston explains:
We understand that medical time-outs can be legitimate but we want to make sure that players are conscious of how many they're using up throughout the year, so we're looking to find a system of capping them during the season.
It would trigger what we'd call a service fee. It's a sports science and health issue, so it's almost like a pay-per-view. You can keep using them, but you pay for them, and the amount would depend on the level of the event. It's not about us revenue-raising, it's more just a mindset — like, 'Hey, checkpoint, you've triggered this. Are they all legitimate?' It discourages the practice of, 'I'm feeling a bit weary, I might take a medical time-out'.The Tour plans on reinvesting the fees into sports science services and the players council was described as "being supportive" of the idea.
I agree something finally needed to be done to curb these annoyingly unwarranted mid-match trainer calls but it always bothers me when there isn't consistency across the board and certain tourneys get exempt. Plus, I'm not sure the top lady ballers, who usually grab the most attention with these incessant calls for the trainer, will stop when the fees are miniscule relative to what they're earning overall.
But I imagine somewhere in the world Jelena Jankovic is saving her pennies just in case.
(image via Getty)