Tech in Tennis

How is technology changing the game of tennis?

As discussed during the Wimbledon fortnight, technology is taking its rightful place as a game changer in the world of tennis. More real-time and post-match data is available than ever before; whether this be delivered through the IBM Wimbledon Cloud or from sensors built into a racket, this information is transforming the game for the viewer and the player.

From the comfort of my own home, thanks to analytics tools, I can access statistics such as the fastest serve of the set or the distance of the court that has been covered by each player. As a viewer, this makes me more engaged, knowledgeable and, if I were a betting woman, probably more willing to gamble on who would win.

Now this kind of real-time performance data has been made available to coaches on the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tour, arming them with more match information than ever before.

Earlier this month, at the Bank of the West Classic Tournament in California, SAP, the leader in technology software, partnered with the WTA to deliver an analytics tool that allows coaches to view real-time performance statistics, and feed back to the player court-side during a match. Accessed through an iPad, the software picks up on trends, tactics and weaknesses that simply cannot be registered and remembered by the naked eye.

Described by SAP as a tool that “could be the difference between winning and losing”, this could be the next step in the evolution of technology in tennis.  Powered by the SAP HANA Cloud platform, coaches can now view:

  • Comparison of match stats for both players, updated every 15 seconds
  • Service performance, success rate in closing out a service game, and the number of break points saved
  • Serve, return shot and rally shot placement analysis

Previously, you had to be sitting on a sofa in your own home, or in a commentary box, to access this kind of real-time data. However, driven by the explosion in the popularity and use of the Cloud, the development of analytics tools means the tennis coaches have access to key performance highs and lows almost instantly. Game strategy can therefore be altered in order to turn the match around. A very influential tool I would say.

Now, I don’t want to get ahead of myself; this tennis technology is still in its early stages. It can only be used on the WTA tour as it is the only tour that allows on-court coaching (introduced in 2008). It will be available at six additional WTA events this year, however, in which it will prove its longevity I suppose. With real-time insights and the potential to give a competitive advantage like never before, this could be a whole new ball game for tennis!

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