The digital system also allows for customisation, in the same way you can change the accent or gender on your smart device. While generic “out” and “fault” calls have been used during the ATP Cup and Melbourne Summer Series events, Australian accents will be the order of the day at Melbourne Park when the first round begins on Monday.
That’s where Merrick and Co come in.
In a nod to the everyday acts of heroism performed by emergency services workers across the country, Australian Open organisers contacted various agencies in every state and asked them to nominate a worker deserving of recognition. Eight were then chosen to provide the local voices for Hawk-Eye Live.
A 22-year SES veteran, Merrick and his team were called to a desperate situation in the Hunter Valley last month. Two people were clinging to a tree in the middle of fast-moving floodwaters after their vehicle had been washed off a causeway in the middle of the night.
When Merrick’s crew arrived, he was the man charged with swimming through the floodwaters to rescue the pair. If it wasn’t for the SES, two lives would have been lost that night.
“To be recognised for it is really flattering. But it’s almost embarrassing at the same time,” Merrick told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“We don’t do this for recognition. We do this because it’s the right thing to do. We want to help the community in times of need. That’s what we do. We don’t get paid. We do it because we want to help people and that’s the right thing to do.”
Steven Gelagotis is a paramedic with Ambulance Victoria. He contracted COVID-19 at the heart of the pandemic and is now driven to spread the message that young people can fall seriously ill at the hands of the deadly virus, too.
As a boy, he would sit in front of the television and call “out” and “fault” when the Australian Open was on. His practice has paid dividends.
“It definitely wasn’t something I expected, but I see it as an honour to be able to represent Ambulance Victoria and have my voice featured in the line calling,” Gelagotis said.
“The Australian Open is an iconic sporting event and I remember as a little kid, in front of Mum and Dad, I would sit in front of the TV and yell out the line calls in different accents to pretend I was a linesman. It is an extreme privilege to be part of the Australian Open this year.”
Further north, Kyal Thornton, the patrol captain at Queensland’s Tallebudgera Surf Life Saving Club, has been recognised.
Thornton was part of a crew which rescued seven people – including one who required a defibrillator to survive – from a dangerous rip on Australia Day. Thornton’s sentiment was similar to Merrick’s.
“I agreed to do the tennis stuff on behalf of the whole patrol team,” he said. “We do it because it’s a place that we love and we want to keep people safe. Because every single one of them really stepped up that day. They did an amazing effort that day. They were still doing rescues after we signed off.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.