THE TECHNOLOGY OF TENNIS
HOW DESIGN & TECH ARE MAKING THE GAME FASTER
Technology continues to evolve in almost every aspect of life – and tennis is no exception to this. The racquets have evolved over time with new materials being used to help players play at their highest level alongside the continuous evolution of everlasting rubber soled shoes for comfort. In addition to this, the development of hawk-eye technology to assist umpires, players and linesmen was a significant establishment in the game which has made tennis a near perfect sport at the highest level. Another less spoken about technological advancement is the use of telemetry sensors. These sensors help players keep track of their tennis performance and improve their technique. These additions have made tennis a completely different sport as compared to what it was about thirty years ago.
The player’s toolkit which primarily involves the racquet and shoes has made the game of tennis significantly faster and more fun to watch.
1. TENNIS RACQUETS
The introduction of fibers like graphite and Kevlar in the process of making tennis racquets changed the game of tennis for the better. These fibers made the racquet significantly lighter thereby enabling tennis players to swing much faster and hit the ball harder. There is no way tennis star Juan Martin Del Potro could have hit a 180kmph forehand with the wooden racquets that were used 40 years ago.
These racquets have developed a different kind of player with higher technique requirements and stronger bodies. Moreover, there are so many different kinds of tennis racquets available for players with different styles of play. For example, a player like Diego Schwartzman would prefer a light racquet which gives him a lot of control and consistency owing to his small stature. However, a player like Juan Del Potro would prefer a racquet with higher weight and lesser tension which would suit his attacking style of play. The possibilities with tennis racquets are endless with so many modifications possible which will suit the player’s style of play.
2. TENNIS RACQUET STRINGS
In addition to the racquets evolving over time, the strings which players use has evolved as well. The introduction of polyester strings in the late 90s was a game changer for the sport of tennis.
The synthetic polyester tennis string developed a new breed of offensive and aggressive tennis players, demanding professionals to keep up with the high speeds and ferocious top spin that these strings were able to create. The durability of the string has made it the most popular string going around and almost every tennis player regardless of whether they are an amateur player or professional player uses these strings.
3. TENNIS SHOES
Tennis shoes have evolved tenfold over time as well. Nowadays, tennis shoes are much more advanced as well and having rubber soles. This allows players to move more freely and skid even on hard courts which used to be considered almost impossible 40 years ago!
4. HAWK EYE TECHNOLOGY
Hawk-eye is arguably the greatest technological advancement to grace the sport and is a prime example as to how technology can literally make anything possible.
It is a complex computer system created to track the trajectory of the ball, thereby giving the players an opportunity to challenge a line call in case they feel that the linesman or umpire has made a wrong line call. It uses about seven cameras to track the ball with a triangular algorithm, delivering a three-dimensional representation of the trajectory of the ball and is a faultless system.
5. TELEMETRY SENSORS
Another huge innovation in tennis is the use of Telemetry sensors. These devices are used to help players keep track of their game and aid them in keeping track of their technique with real time data analysis.
The information is coming straight from the racquet being used by the player and not from what the player feels, thereby resulting in an accurate analysis. It provides data like how many forehands were hit out of the center of the racquet, was the ball sliced or hit with top spin and so many more analytical points. The data can be stored and compared with other players to help enhance performance. These sensors are especially useful for players competing at a high level.
The interesting thing is tennis will continue to evolve as time goes by. Thirty years from now, all of these technological elements that have been stated in this article may not even be in existence and a more advanced technology may be present at the time. This just goes to show technology will never stop evolving which is scary and at the same time exciting. All of us tennis players and fans should be thankful for the technological improvements that have taken place which has made the sport what it is today – fast, exciting, competitive, more technical and a pleasure to watch.