by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
An umpire will have a certain number of balls and will throw the next ball during a match to the player; the player will not pick up the ball from the floor.
It is a system that has been used successfully in the Chinese Super League. The objective is to reduce the time between the points during the matches, as well as to improve presentation for the television broadcast.
The system will be applied from the first round of the main draw onwards. At that stage, all matches will be played on four show court tables which will make play easier to follow.
Experts´ opinion as well as the players´ feedback will be taken into consideration and presented in the next Executive Committee meeting for further debates.
One wonders, at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, when in those days matches were to 21 points, ball boys and ball girls were used, being stationed in each of the four corners of the court; one of the aims was to avoid delays.
The system was not continued, one reason being that the players preferred to have the slight pause between rallies.
Now quarter of a century later will the reaction to speed up play be different?