At first glance, it appears the chair umpires are fiddling with their phones during matches in the K.S. Narayanan memorial ITF women’s championship. Only later do we find out it’s a ‘Live Scoring Device’, a gadget that has replaced the conventional scoring sheets.

One of its key features is that the scores of a match in progress are updated live on the ITF website. “The device is connected to the site and all the information pertaining to a match are updated instantly,” ITF Supervisor Sheetal Iyer tells The Hindu. “It’s easy for players and coaches to track stats while their matches are in progress. Even a medical time-out is recorded. For us, there’s reduced paperwork.”

Shreeram Gokhale, one of the chair umpires, demonstrates how the device works. Right from an ace to a foot fault, there are several options that can be accessed on the touch screen and a corresponding entry will be made against the player’s name once it’s clicked on. “It’s been used in ATP and WTA events for quite sometime now. It was introduced in ITF events in India sometime in late-2012,” notes Gokhale.

On whether it was difficult to adapt to the new technology, Sheetal says: “Frankly, the umpires have found it more convenient than the scorecard. Initially, they practise working on the device in ‘demo’ matches.”

Quite obviously, the device can’t be unlocked without the unique ID and password that each ITF tournament is assigned.

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