The inaugural ‘Tennis Tech Fair’ gave industry leaders and facility owners and managers a taste of the latest products helping to boost the sport.
|During the recent State of the Tennis Industry Forum and Tennis Owners & Managers Conference, both held during the Miami Open and presented by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), a number of new tennis products and accessories were showcased during the inaugural Tennis Tech Fair.
“For tennis players, and those who want to play the sport, having access to new technology with user-friendly feedback will bring the tennis experience to a new and different level,” noted TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “This technology gives players the feedback that they want and can use to improve their on-court performance and fitness levels.
Tennis has embraced technology for at least a decade through the fitness-based program Cardio Tennis, the fastest growing segment of tennis that is up 26% since 2014, to 1.83 million players, the TIA reported. From its creation in 2005, Cardio Tennis has promoted the use of heart-rate monitors, so participants can play and train in their ideal heart-rate zone for maximum benefit.
“The popularity of these technologies with tennis consumers looks strong since participation is on the upswing,” adds de Boer. ““Smart Court technology and wearables also offer coaches and facilities an opportunity to capitalize on this growing trend with ‘smart lessons’ and also provide exciting adaptations for near-perfect player matching.”
During the Tennis Tech Fair showcase, it was revealed that three of the top fitness trends in 2016, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, are wearable technology, smart phone apps, and outcomes. “All those themes apply to tennis and the many new tech products that are ‘game-changers’ for our sport,” said de Boer. “It’s an exciting time for tennis—its players and businesses—as we expect to see growth through the use of ‘smart-tennis’ technology to help attract, engage and retain current and future players.”
Some of the newest products and technology highlighted at the inaugural Tennis Tech Fair included:
COURT TECH SYSTEMS
* PlaySight Smart Court (playsight.com)—This experiential and interactive technology is a full-court system that uses six HD cameras and sensors to provide real-time and post-match statistics. All the data is uploaded to the PlaySight cloud for easy access for players and coaches. The full PlaySight Smart Court technology will be installed on 32 courts at the new United States Tennis Association National Campus in Orlando, Fla.
* Babolat Play/Pulse (babolatplay.com)—This was the first tennis racquet on the market with an integrated sensor, built inside the handle. It analyzes data on three dimensions: Power, Technique, and Endurance, i.e. the player’s pulse. The data can be shared via social media with other players through the Babolat Play community. This sensor provides statistics on where the ball is being hit on the face of the racquet, the RPMs, and energy, and even measures serve speed.
* QLIPP (qlipp.com)—This removable racquet sensor fits onto any racquet and doubles as a vibration dampener. The QLIPP sensor reads shot type, speed, spin, and ball contact accuracy. It measures where the ball is caught with the racquet and how often the racquet’s “sweet spot” is hit. If a smart phone is within 50 meters of the sensor on the racquet, the app can even “shout out” information, eliminating the need to run to the sidelines to check a phone for shot data.
* Sony (sony.com)—Compatible with Wilson, Head, Prince, and Yonex racquets, this sensor attaches to the end of the racquet handle (the butt cap). A unique feature is the player can synch his or her performance statistics with video taken on an Apple or Android phone.
* Zepp Labs (zepp.com)—This sensor measures 1,000 data points per second and gives stats on total shots and active time on the court. It also tracks the speed, spin and shot type. The sensor has two different mounting types—Pro Mount and Flex Mount—and universal compatibility with any tennis racquet.
* Apple Watch (apple.com)—Like FitBit, the Apple Watch is not specific to tennis, but there are millions of brand-loyal Apple devotees who are concerned with fitness.
* Babolat POP (babolatplay.com)—Worn on the racquet hand, this wristband sensor tracks spin, power, session time, and rally length. It’s compatible with any frame, pairs with Apple or Android phones, and offers entertaining features and connected challenges.
* FitBit (fitbit.com)—While this item is not specific to tennis, it can track the activity levels of the tennis player.
* PIVOT by Turing Sense (turingsense.com)—A series of wearable sensors attach to a player’s wrist, elbow, shoulders, hips, and knees and provide instant feedback, which can be analyzed by a pro.
* Polar Heart Rate Monitor (polar.com)—This is the official heart rate monitor of Cardio Tennis. Data from heart-rate monitors helps keep players in the right zone for getting the best workout.
BALL MACHINE TECHNOLOGY
* Lobster Phenom (lobstersports.com)—A smart phone can be used as a remote to operate the machine and change settings, saving time for both player and instructor.
* Playmate (playmatetennismachines.com)—This machine tracks minutes played, number of balls hit, and it can be pre-programmed. It has two modes: Drill Member Mode and Drill Pro Mode.