Some of the greatest tennis players in history are back on the court, but this time, there’s no arguing.
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Competitors in the PowerShares Series, which features former champions over the age of 30, must call their own lines. In other words, players call out when their opponent hits a ball out of bounds.
There are, however, unlimited challenges that are decided by the Hawk-Eye digital tracker that’s used on the pro tour.
In an interview Thursday on the FOX Business Network, John McEnroe and Andy Roddick talked about playing in the PowerShares Series with the Hawk-Eye system calling the shots.
The 12-city tour stopped in Chicago this week for the PowerShares QQQ Challenge featuring McEnroe, Roddick, James Blake and Jim Courier. McEnroe was successful in just two out of nine challenges during a match Wednesday against Blake.
“I didn’t do real well. I know there’s a lot of gloating linesmen at the moment,” McEnroe said. “I didn’t think I missed a call my entire career, but apparently that may not be totally accurate.”
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McEnroe, 56, is widely known for his tussles with linesmen during his career. In one of his most famous outbursts, McEnroe yelled at a Wimbledon chair umpire, “You cannot be serious!”
McEnroe is considered one of the top players of all time. The former world No. 1 has seven Grand Slam singles titles to his name. He also won nine Grand Slam doubles titles.
Roddick, now a sports analyst on Fox Sports 1, retired following the 2012 U.S. Open. The 32-year-old is the last North American male to win a Grand Slam title (2003 U.S. Open) and earn a world ranking of No. 1.
Roddick joked that fans seem to enjoy seeing players on the PowerShares Series “call each other liars.”
“I think people want to see the human element and the back-and-forth. I was for replay when I was playing and now, looking back, people always talk to me about [missing] the days when John would go absolutely mental on an umpire,” Roddick said.
PowerShares, a Chicago-based investment firm owned by Invesco (IVZ), extended its title sponsorship of the North American tennis circuit in March. The three-year deal gives PowerShares top billing through 2018.
PowerShares has maintained the title sponsorship since 2011. The PowerShares Series, whose origins date back to 2005, also includes tennis greats Pete Sampras and Michael Chang.
According to McEnroe, asking players to call their own lines adds an exciting element to the game.
“I guarantee you fan participation will increase dramatically as this goes along,” McEnroe said.