Time To Play Tennis With Insights
Every tennis fan is familiar with the on-court clamor of the all-time great John McEnroe. Every time a line judge would deem one of the balls he hit to be out of bounds, McEnroe would yell at the chair umpire: "You cannot be serious!"
Over the last decade, sensors have been able to measure whether or not a ball touched the line. It's a lot more difficult to get a computer to change its mind about whether the ball you hit was or wasn't in-bounds. From the moment the score keeper logs a point, a new layer is added to the pool of big data around the sport - how fast, how sharp, how better, how responsive to surround factors, and so on. But only if insights are being garnered, beyond score keeping.
Interestingly, big data insights have indelibly impacted sports like football (think pre-match preparations of the German football team during World Cup 2014); basketball (think Player Tracking in which cameras capture every on-court move of NBA players- reportedly, 25 times per second!); and of course baseball (no, not Moneyball - think sabermetrics).
In a sport like tennis, where technology adoption and insights generation have intensified only over the last decade, several avenues to a better game and experience have already opened up. Which in turn have shown the possible width and depth of untapped big data, unimaginable at this point, providing a vast playground for technology companies like us.
This elegant game that was played with wooden racquets on freshly clipped lawns is becoming faster and more exciting, albeit gradually - today played mostly on concrete rather than grass, with players using the best graphite-composite racquets that are light and strong and allow them to hit with awesome power. It's now time to play this changing game with insights.
With the Hawkeye computer, pressure sensors on lines and on racquets, and analytics, tennis has made a good start. There's tremendous scope to both gather more data and run powerful analytics on them, especially predictive analytics. Imagine a time when by analyzing the minutest physical strengths and weaknesses of two players as well as by studying their historical data, a computer will be able to accurately predict the winner. And what happens when the player who is supposed to lose, ups his game, changes his tactics on court and surprises the computer? The natural question that follows is whether sometime in the future, it is possible for the sport to change (for the better of course) through powerful analytics?
Possibilities abound. It is about getting started.
Today, Infosys announced its global technology partnership with ATP, the governing body of men's professional tennis. To help coaches and players in their methods and techniques, and in studying opponents' strategies, as well as to empower fans worldwide to see more than just the match. And for the sport to be more.