Take a tablet and fix the strategy

Angelique Kerber of Germany, who beat Russian Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the Stanford Classic, using a tablet with live match data at a SAP press conference yesterday.
Angelique Kerber of Germany, who beat Russian Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the Stanford Classic, using a tablet with live match data at a SAP press conference yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

STANFORD • From the moment an umpire awards a point in a WTA tennis match, data is fed from the court to SAP's Hana cloud platform.

Some 15 seconds later, a courtside tablet in the hands of a tennis coach will be updated with the latest information on players' performances.

If the process sounds simple, well, that is because it is, according to SAP tennis technology lead Jenni Lewis.

The face behind the German software giant's on-court technology platform says the data-mining is totally automated.

All the statistics consumed by players and coaches are captured by the umpire as well as tracking software Hawk-Eye, with no additional resources required.

Hawk-Eye is best known for its replays, which determine whether a ball is in or out.

But because its 10 cameras track the trajectory of the ball, it also records data such as shot placement and rally hit points.

"From that point of view, it's very small scale which we are then able to blow up quite dramatically. And it's accurate," said Lewis. She estimates that a single match produces up to 70,000 elements of data.

Hana already has data from 25,000 matches, with players and coaches able to dip into the archives to prepare for upcoming matches.

Given that the WTA Tour features 50 tournaments across 33 countries, the data pool will grow by 3,300 matches each year.

The nature of statistics collected will also expand over time as Lewis works with the coaches and assesses their feedback on what other data they might want to see.

"We added seven features because the coaches asked for it," she said at the sidelines of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University.

"And I've five new ideas from this tournament.

"It's that level of engagement. From there, we will build up new solutions."

Lin Xinyi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'Take a tablet and fix the strategy'. Print Edition | Subscribe