Steve Simon with players and officials at the launch of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Image Credit: Atiq-ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open received a strong thumbs-up from Steve Simon, the newly elected CEO of Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

Lavishing praise on the organisers, Simon said during an interaction with the media: “Every tournament has to have its own personality. But what you have here is that you have an amazing world class destination and the phenomenal evolution of this city running hand-in-hand.”

“What also makes it successful is the continued investment along with the experience that is unique. When you have such a unique experience, then you have a destination that everyone wants to be part of. And that’s not because of the wonderful tennis alone, but the experience makes it special,” he added.

Simon, unanimously named for the top job last month, meanwhile wanted a more defined on-court coaching structure for women players in the near future.

Acknowledging that he is a huge fan of on-court player coaching at the highest level of tennis, Simon said: “Coaching is a part of any sport and I have always felt that coaching needs to be a part of the tennis story. I always wonder why tennis should be any different? No doubt, we have our own traditions, but we are not going to see coaches on the sidelines of the court who will tear their shirts off and throw tantrums that you tend to see in some other sports today.”

“We’ve got to admit that coaching happens even if it is not meant to be. Then why are we not supporting this aspect where we can share some crucial moments happening on court with everybody? Fans want to know what that interaction is. It is very much part of the story and it makes perfect sense,” he added.

There are two schools of thought as far as player coaching goes — the traditionalists who emphasise that tennis is a one-on-one sport in which players must solve and handle their own issues, be it mentally, emotionally or tactically once they are on court. The more liberal side to the debate, however, believes on-court coaching adds drama and personality while bringing the sport closer to fans across the globe.

There was a minor change in 2008 when the WTA allowed player coaching at Tour events. Players were permitted to request one visit from their coach per set. Termed as ‘an experiment’, the move was designed with television coverage in mind as coaches are required to wear microphones during their visits to the players.

“If we want a gladiator sort of sport, then we shouldn’t have anything — no coaches and no support of any sort, but just the player all by himself or herself out there. We are not trying to do that. The unique thing about tennis is that there is no one with you. No one can hit the forehand or the backhand for you. No one can put in that second serve for you. You are ultimately all alone out there,” Simon said.

“Player coaching is a good part of the sport and we need to embrace it. It has to be done tastefully and then we need to figure out how we are going to bring it out to the fans as well,” he insisted.