Data-Loaded iPads Intrigue Professional Tennis Players

Aug 24, 2015

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is testing new technology that may be used at the Western and Southern Open next year. It's an iPad loaded with real-time data (from the chair umpire and Hawk-Eye) that coaches may take with them during on-court coaching sessions.

While the technology may seem basic to some, tennis is traditional and slow to change. The men's circuit doesn't allow on-court visits by coaches, so it is not part of this technology roll-out.

The Russian-Australian tennis player Daria Gavrilova got her first glimpse of the new technology at Stanford earlier this month. During the Bank of the West Classic her coach had an iPad loaded with real-time data from both the chair umpire feed and Hawk-Eye which tracks the trajectory of the ball.

Daria Gavrilova at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships
Credit Wikipedia

“I mean, I trust my coach, but obviously sometimes it’s just good for myself where I hit my shots and where all my mistakes come from.”

The WTA’s technology partner SAP designed the software for the iPads with specially 3D printed heat resistant cases. Lead Jenni Lewis says SAP has delivered post match stats to coaches, but this year was the first year for real-time data on the court.

“We get the feed from 2 places. So, the umpire is scoring the match for us, so obviously we take that data and what we’re able to do is give context. So instead of saying-you’ve just seen your player serve six aces when did she serve those aces..did she serve them under pressure?"

The WTA is working through data access rights. It wasn’t able to reach an agreement with Western and Southern this year. 

The tennis organization is gradually rolling the loaded iPad out. The next enhancement could be video. Eventually the WTA and SAP would like to make versions available to the media and fans.