Is There a Need for Line Judges In the Future of Tennis? Reviewing Hawkeye Systems


Hawk-Eye camera used in the 2012 Kremlin Cup held in Russia

On August 31st the US open declared that there would be no line judges due to Covid-19 restrictions. Instead a computer made calls using a technology called Hawk-eye.

Hawk-eye is somewhat similar in ways to other sports technologies like VAR and Goal Line Technology used in soccer.

Hawk-eye’s first use was in May of 2001 to determine leg before wicket decisions or LBW’s. Hawk-eye isn’t only used in tennis or cricket however, Some of the sports that use this technology include baseball, hockey, basketball, football, and even snooker.

But what exactly is Hawk-eye?

Hawk-eye in general is a series of cameras that can detect things at usually 500 frames per second. And to put that into perspective your average phone camera can at the max only produce about 60 frames per second. But most of the systems in tennis actually calculate the trajectory and the angles determined from when the player hits the ball.

This makes it so it calculates where the ball is going to land. So why do we even need line judges anymore?

This would be a huge problem solver. This would make it so players don’t need to argue with officials and pile on broken tennis rackets. Also this saves lots of time being involved with officiating and various problems.

And the most important would be saving money, Hawk-eye would mean that line judges don’t have to be necessary. Now, Hawk-eye systems usually cost around $40’000 to even 100’000+ but tournaments would make all this money back with ease over a few years. But there are some downsides, the Hawk-eye isn’t 100% right, in fact one time in 2017 tennis star Rafael Nadal played Borna Coric and apparently the graphic failed to display the call, causing controversy.

When more and more software like this becomes more accessible over the years hawk-eye will be more common and fairer use of tennis will become mandatory.