Saturday School: What is the Tennis Hackathon?

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Tennis has seen a lot of ways by which the sport is revolutionizing with technological advances. Right from Cyclops to Hawkeye to Net Cord Sensors to IBM’s SecondSight, the sport has become preciseful in its outcomes and results. This year at the Australian Open, tennis takes yet another foot forward in its technical aspect.
For the first time in the history of the sport, Tennis Australia’s Game Insight Group (GIG) has decided to release a single large data to the public which will use scientific methods to predict the outcomes before a point ends. The aim is also to clearly differentiate between forced and unforced errors and many such closely associated statistics.
“For more than 40 years, tennis matches have been described using the terms first serve percentage, second serve percentage, unforced errors, forced errors, yet we are still unable to consistently define what some of them mean.”
– Dr. Machar Reid, Head of Innovation, Tennis Australia
The project is tagged as “From AO to AI” and is a joint venture of GIG and CrowdAnalytix. CrowdAnalytix is a Silicon Valley-based data pioneer which has previously found solutions to problems like estimating the daily spot price of copper, making airplanes fuel efficient and many such innivations.
“It is a successful method which has led to some amazing innovations. This will be the first time it is applied to tennis in this way and holding it during the Australian Open is the perfect time to generate the most interest.”
– Dr. Reid
The Tennis Hackathon will release 10,000 points of Grand Slam data tracking for analysis and further research. One of the key points that had been highlighted was to focus more on the way the point was built up rather than how the last shot was hit (winner, forced or unforced error).
“Earlier work has often focused on the characteristics of ‘winners’, but we recognise the winning shot is often the least strategically-important shot in the rally. Rather it is the strategy over the preceding strokes to move an opponent out of contention in a rally that matters. Understanding how points are won requires a deeper understanding of the way players manipulate their opponents to establish dominance”
The tennis hackathon will be in action throughout the tournament and the winner will be announced during the final weekend who will be getting US $5000 as prize money.
“This is an historic step as it will be the first large-scale release of Hawkeye data the sport has ever seen. We recognise how open access to high-quality data helped launch a new analytics era in sport and, in taking this step, are hoping to propel a new data-savvy era for tennis” 
– Stephanie Kolvalchik, Data Analyst, Tennis Australia

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