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Tuesday, 28 January 2020 16:29

SAP adds ball-toss analysis to Tennis Analytics suite

SAP Tennis Analytics for Coaches SAP Tennis Analytics for Coaches

SAP has been working on tennis analytics for years, but even the latest Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rule change prevents the software being used by coaches during matches at the Australian Open.

SAP has been collaborating with the WTA since 2012 to apply analytics to the sport.

A 2015 rule change allowed the use of technology in support of on-court coaching, and SAP responded with the release of SAP Tennis Analytics for Coaches.

On-court coaching is completely forbidden by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which runs men's tennis.

SAP Tennis Analytics for Coaches, available to all coaches free of charge, incorporates live data collected while the match is in progress from the umpire scoring system and from the Hawkeye cameras. The latter is more detailed than its public use for reviewing challenged line calls suggests, explained SAP global sponsorships activation manager Francois Lazayres.

In 2016 the company added the Tournament Performance Center giving coaches to all historical data, and 2019 saw the arrival of the Patterns of Play capability that reveals how players react in different situations, giving their opponent's coach a chance to provide guidance.

New to Patterns of Play in 2020 are ball toss analysis and bounce to hit point analysis. Ball toss analysis relates the height of the toss to where the ball lands, while bounce to hit point analysis examines where the ball is being returned after a serve, plus the success rate.

One shortcoming is that not all WTA matches are played on Hawkeye-equipped courts, Lazayres noted.

Around 90% of WTA coaches use the system, with between 50 and 60% using it during matches, he said.

This week the WTA announced a rule change to permit coaching from the stands, bringing the rules into line with common practice. The new rule does not apply to Grand Slam tournaments such as the Australian Open, where coaching during a match is still forbidden.

SAP Tennis Analytics for Media was introduced in 2017, said Lazayres. This presents the data in a variety of ways to suit the requirements of broadcasters and reporters. Examples include a comparison of a player's first-service percentage with their average performance, the number of aces during the tournament, and tournament-specific information such as the youngest winner.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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