GIS and Tennis

(From time to time I’ll post information that students send me on interesting applications of geographic information systems. This time from “Tennis Fan”:)

Looking for that competitive edge?

Professional Tennis and Cricket have a new tool in helping players form winning strategies. The ‘Hawk-Eye’ tracking device, used since 2001 in telecasting, processes data from multiple cameras on a Tennis court or Cricket pitch to form a 2D or 3D image pinpointing landing spots within 2 or 3mm on a respective court or pitch.

If you are a tennis fan, you will recognize this technology in the computer generated replays, used in broadcasts of major tournaments, often showed after a controversial call by the umpire or a particular close call at the baseline. In tennis, the use of many cameras on the court allow for three dimensional recreation of ball trajectory and precise landing point location. What’s the use of such technology? Asides from making broadcasters sound smarter by giving them loads of additional statistical data, the Hawk-Eye technology allows for better understanding of player’s strategy.

The following link is to an article at detailing Venus Williams’ service pattern against Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon 2005.

Using a vector spatial data model, the article examines the landing points of Williams’ first serves and Sharapova’s return hit points in the first and second set. In the model, first serve landing points and returns are shown as yellow circles and second serve returns as black circles. The white lines are the court delimitations, and a net is added to increase the realism of the CG representation. We can notice that the black circles in the return pattern are on average closer to the net, indicating slower second serve speeds. The article states that Williams’ strategy was to “serve the ball into Sharapova’s body – a sensible tactic against a tall player with a long reach.” This can be seen in the dispersal of the first serve points on the model. Had she wanted to make Sharapova move around more, hypothetically speaking, the model might have shown a higher concentration of landing spots in both corners of the service square. The article also mentions “there was no discernable change of tactic by Sharapova in the second set” meaning the the ball patterns of return hits were similar in both sets. Had Sharapova understood Williams’ strategy and decided to become more aggressive, she could have advanced into the court and thus the yellow circles on the model would have been closer in. The result: Venus beat Maria in two sets of 7-6 and 6-1.
So there you have it, if you have a big match against one of your buddies coming up and you really need that edge, hire Hawk-Eye Innovations to analyse his/her tactics. This will allow you to inflict severe ego-bruising pain on your unsuspecting fair-playing opponent… shame on you!

Click here for an additional article on Hawk-Eye.


Comments are closed.