Australian Open Officials Hit New Heights In Hi-Tech Umpire Chairs

Caroline Garcia trying to figure out how the umpire chairs are working (photo: twitter)

AO Press Release, January 9, 2018

A new state-of-the-art umpires chair will be unveiled at Australian Open 2018.

The hi-tech chair, to be featured on Rod Laver Arena, MCA and Hisense Arena, has been fully automated, with officials rising up to the occasion at the touch of a button.

“We look at every aspect of the field of play to see how we can improve the experience for our players, officials and fans,” Tennis Australia’s Chief Operations Officer Tom Larner said.

“The new, automated umpire’s chair is not only practical for our chair umpires, but it will be great fun for the fans. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the anticipation as the official walks onto court, buckles up, and pushes the button to rise to the required height.”

Sam Groth, who will play his final Australian Open this month, was delighted to step into the chair and take it for a test drive.

“Well that’s inventive, the fans are going to love it,” said Groth as he rose up and down in the chair, hamming it up with US star Madison Keys during her practice session at Rod Laver Arena.

New court furniture will be unveiled on all 22 courts at Australian Open 2018, with the automated umpire chair featuring on the three stadium courts. The process has taken a full year from concept, tender and build, with Synergy Australasia appointed to design and create the new look.

“We generally refresh the court furniture every five years or so,” Larner said.

“This new look has also given us the opportunity to bring the contemporary new AO brand to life, both in the shapes of the furniture and through the built-in LEDs on the automated chair, adding another element of colour and entertainment to the field of play.”