For the very first time in women’s tennis, real-time performance data is now an option for players seeking high-level strategic insights on their game.
The technology, presented at the Women’s Tennis Association Bank of the West Classic in Palo Alto, California, marks a dramatic shift for the sport.
Updated every 15 seconds, the new software advanced by SAP, gives coaches the ability to provide side-by-side comparisons on match stats for both players in addition to providing a wide variety of strategic tracking data that includes serving direction, court placement intelligence, and a number of other options which each coach can choose to set as they see fit.
“If it’s there, obviously data doesn’t lie. Even if you learn one new thing, you have to take advantage and help your own player in that way,” Stacey Allaster, CEO and Chairman of the WTA.
In 2013, the WTA celebrated its 40th anniversary and began looking at ways that it could change with the times and truly innovate the sport. It has now pivoted its vision from that of a service governing organization to a media marketing driven enterprise looking to take advantage of new advances in technology and data.
While this game changing technology is only available in customized formats for coaching staff in the WTA, a wide range of insights from the SAP HANA platform are also meant to give both fans and media a more robust sporting experience.
SAP believes that the success of their platform relies upon the ability to automatically capture unique data that provides the basis for a scalable platform that truly supports all players in the sport. In order to do that, they started with the umpire who sits in a key position to track real-time data. By capturing key pieces of information through the purview of the umpire, they can add a much more robust context to the other sets of data they are pulling.
In conjunction with the highly sophisticated Hawk-Eye camera tracking and processing technology which is being fed directly to SAP’s HANA cloud platform, coaches are able to build the narrative of their choice for their player’s ongoing development and is best suited to their strategic success.
From a design perspective, the on-court tech sits on a custom iPad Air 2 that is only available to coaches and sports in a bright and vibrant colour palette. This intensely coloured theme was designed intentionally by SAP in order to provide a more visually readable solution for coaches that are, in most cases, standing out in the bright sunlight.
Angelique Kerber, ranked 14 in the WTA, shared her team’s thoughts on the new technology at the Bank of the West Classic press conference. “When I’m struggling, I’m calling my coach and actually he is just reminding me about what I should do, what we had talked about before, and what is my plan A. I think my coaches are very excited that this is coming out right now. He has talked to me about it for the last few weeks saying ‘let’s try it.’”
These sentiments were shared by coach and former American professional tennis champion, Lindsay Davenport. “The thing about being a coach is not only to give your player the best chance to succeed with their own game but also giving them tips on their opponent.”