on-court coaching tennisPassionate tennis fans everywhere have used the interwebs to voice their opinions about the use of technology during tennis matches. Opinions about the use of Hawk-Eye for replays and determining ball movement (whether the ball is in or out) were all over the sentiment spectrum when it was introduced, but now, it is a technology that is integrated into the sport and accepted and appreciated by most.

But, now there is a new announcement of technology integration, which is causing a stir. In January 2014, the WTA announced that they are considering allowing players to use real-time data during matches through on-court coaching and a mobile app that houses the real-time match data. Although this has to pass the WTA’s Board of Directors and it was agreed that this technology wouldn’t actually make its debut until 2015, fans’ opinions seem to be on both sides of the story and are debating what type of technology should and shouldn’t be used for coaching, especially in the WTA.

A blog post by Tennis.com, which announced the potential on-court coaching and collaboration with WTA partner, SAP, pointed out that match data is being collected. But, currently the data is only reported as a post-game analysis tool for coaches and a point-by-point analysis for commentators to be more informed when discussing live matches.

Will this data make its way onto the court and be accepted by fans?

Comments on the post ranged from excitement and sentiment stating, “it’s about time,” to passionate outrage and concern that data will “get in the way.” And all the comments on the Tennis.com post expressed passion for the spirit of the sport.

JasonRaphael posted:

“At least with the stats available, they’d be able to come down and say something like, “Your first serve is over 73% points won! So keep that up and keep the errors down because you already have 12 unforced errors and 9 forced errors for a total of 21 errors, so you’re gifting her this match…” BAM…that would change the entire dynamic and outlook for a player and they’d know what to do…IN DETAIL. These detractors can say what they want, but I KNOW…as a huge sports fan…that this would be wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL for Tennis. Just like Hawk-Eye is.”

Iow4_0player posted:

“As the hidebound traditionalist that I am, I do not like this idea, but I can accept it with certain provisos:
1. No coaching during the match; player must analyze the data on her own without help.
2. Both competitors agree to use of the data stream; neither can use if one says no.
3. No device on court; data only accessible at the players’ benches (no wrist-worn devices).
4. Any use of the data stream must be done within the current time constraints and any delay caused by use of the data will be penalized using the point penalty system.
If a player wants and can use data on her own then this doesn’t negate the individual nature of the game, but frankly I think it would be more of a distraction than an asset. During a change over you’d need to hydrate, squeeze out a power gel, cool down, relax, focus, and maybe stretch, in addition to accessing the device, finding the info you want, analyze it, and formulate how to incorporate on court. That’s a lot for a brief period.”

…and via Twitter:

Twitter WTA Response

Twitter WTA Twitter Response 2

So what do you think? Should the WTA allow the use of real-time data for on-court coaching?

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