The ITF has hosted three international congresses on Tennis Science & Technology in London. The main aim of each congress was to bring together the widest possible range of groups, and in addition to scientists, the delegates included representatives from equipment manufacturers, coaches, court constructors and National Associations.
The ITF is justifiably proud of an event that attracts the cream of those involved in the science and technology of tennis. The congress has proven to be an exciting event, and one that provides a stimulus for discussion and interaction. This event was unique in bringing together such a diverse group of people, and one in which new relationships were forged, new research collaborations born and ideas were exchanged that are to the benefit of both individuals and tennis.
To find out more about each international congress please follow the links below:
- Tennis Science and Technology 2007
- Tennis Science and Technology 2003
- Tennis Science and Technology 2000
Full proceedings containing all the papers that were presented from TST 2007, TST 2003 and TST 2000 have been published and are available to purchase. Please see the ITF Publications page for more information.
Tennis Science and Technology 2007
The ITF Science & Technical Department hosted its 3rd International Congress on Tennis Science & Technology (TST) at Whitelands College at the University of Roehampton in London last week. Over 90 of the world’s leading tennis science and technology researchers were present for three days of outstanding presentation and discussion.
Almost 50 presentations were given, the standard of which was extremely high. In addition to academics, the delegates included representatives from the equipment manufacturers, coaches, court constructors and national governing bodies. The congress was officially opened by ITF Vice President Geoff Pollard who commented that the Congress was a gathering of “the brains of tennis”, and how understanding technology was crucial to the future of the game. In addition, he contributed to four scientific papers which focused on the probability of a player winning a match based on improving their level of play at different stages of the match.
Two keynote presentations were given: the first, by Dr Stuart Miller, ITF Head of Science & Technical, and which opened the Congress, discussed the role of the Science & Technical Department in the development of rules and regulations for tennis equipment. This presentation included an overview of the projects undertaken by the ITF Technical Centre, and their contribution to the understanding and protection of the nature of tennis. The second was presented by Professor Steve Haake of Sheffield Hallam University, Great Britain, who examined the evolution of the tennis racket and its effect
on serve speed.
To encourage debate amongst the delegates, a discussion panel, entitled ‘Rules are made to be broken: where does tennis go from here?’, addressed current issues with respect to the Rules of Tennis. As Chairman of the ITF Rules of Tennis Committee, Geoff Pollard played a major part on the distinguished panel, and was joined by Chris Bowers(journalist and broadcaster), Steven Martens (LTA Head of Technical Support), Angie Cunningham (Vice-President,Player Relations, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour), and Ralph Schwenger (Head Sport AG, R&D Director Racketsports). Among the many topics discussed during the discussion were electronic line-calling, equipment development, player physiology
The quality of presentations was extremely high, and covered a variety of topics, including equipment technology, player development and analysis, and the environment. The second Howard Brody Award (sponsored by CISLunar Aerospace) for outstanding contributed paper, which was presented in person by Professor Brody, went to Simon Choppin of Sheffield University, Great Britain, for a paper on the three-dimensional analysis of racket and ball during play. Professor Brody commented that the 3rd TST Congress was thought-provoking, and generated more interaction between delegates than either of the two previous events.
Over 40 delegates took the opportunity to visit the ITF Technical Centre, which contains the world’s leading tennis-specific research and testing laboratory. Prior to the congress dinner being held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, delegates also had the opportunity to tour the facility for a behind-the-scenes look at Wimbledon.
The congress dinner was attended by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, who stressed the importance of technology in tennis, and the responsibility of the ITF to control the nature of the game through an understanding of equipment.
Tennis Science and Technology 2003
The ITF held its 2nd Tennis Science & Technology (TST) Congress last week at the University of Surrey, Roehampton. Over 160 of the world’s leading tennis science and technology researchers were present for three days of outstanding presentation and discussion.
A total of 60 presentations were given, the standard of which was extremely high, and the congress brought together a very wide range of groups. In addition to scientists, the delegates included representatives from the equipment manufacturers, coaches, court constructors, and national governing bodies. The congress was officially opened by the ITF President, Francesco Ricci Bitti, who commented on how understanding technology was crucial to the future of tennis – words that were echoed by ITF Board of Directors member and Technical Commission Chair Ruurd de Boer.
There were two panel discussions that dealt with current issues in tennis. The first, preceded by an overview by the ITF Technical Manager Dr Stuart Miller on the individual and interactive contributions of equipment to the speed of tennis, was entitled ‘Tennis and the modern racket: small is beautiful?’, and centred on the effects of racket dimensions on the nature of the game. A distinguished panel, including John Barrett (author and BBC broadcaster), Georgina Clark (WTA Vice President of European Tour Operations), Mark Petchey (Great Britain Davis Cup player), Howard Brody (ITF Technical Commission) and Po-Jen Cheng (Research and Development Director, Wilson Racquet Sports) contributed to a lively and entertaining consideration of the future of tennis racket technology. The second panel, held on the final day, dealt with automated line-calling systems. This was probably the first time that representatives of manufacturers, the professional tour, television and the governing body had been brought together, which led to an entertaining and wide-ranging discussion.
Keynote Presentations were made by Professor Rod Cross from Australia, Paul Roetert, Head of the USTA High Performance Centre, and Justin Smith of the LTA. Delegates were shown examples of the latest tennis technology. Hawk-Eye brought their virtual reality tennis game, in which delegates were able to compete in a virtual Wimbledon tournament against top professionals. SiliconCoach ably demonstrated the benefits of video technology for visual feedback, while EDH brought their latest three-dimensional ball tracking apparatus (the official serve speed apparatus of the Davis Cup), which had been used for the first time at a tournament only days previously.
The congress saw the presentation of the first Howard Brody Award for outstanding contributed paper, which was presented in person by Professor Brody to Andrew Ashcroft of Cambridge University. Delegates were also given a tour of the ITF Technical Centre, and visits to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Hampton Court Palace (home of the oldest tennis court in England, built in 1520 by Henry VIII) were also offered. The congress banquet was held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Tennis Science and Technology 2000
The ITF’s 1st International Congress on Tennis Science and Technology took place from 1-4 August at the University of Surrey, Roehampton. The event was the first of its kind and aimed to bridge the gap between science, technology and players. A range of scientific and technological issues were presented and discussed by internationally respected tennis researchers and academics, as well as key figures from the tennis industry.
A total of 160 delegates from 23 nations attended the event, while there were also representatives from 10 National Associations, including the Chinese Tennis Association.
The conference was hosted by Jan Francke, Chairman ITF Technical Commission, Andrew Coe, ITF Head of Technical and Dr Steve Haake, ITF Research Consultant.
ITF President, Francesco Ricci Bitti opened the congress on Tuesday, while the subsequent days each began with a keynote address. Dr Howard Brody, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, gave an overview of racket technology; Dr Paul Roetert, Executive Director for the American Sport Education Programme, outlined the physical demands of the sport and the way in which sports science can help tennis; while Phillip Sandilands, Director of Facilities at The Lawn Tennis Association, focused on the role of facilities in the drive for growth in tennis.
A total of around 60 presentations were held over the four days, which were divided into four key areas: equipment, sports science, facilities and the game.
NASA, who are currently helping the USTA with aerodynamics research, and the Universities of Cambridge and Sheffield gave outstanding presentations on the aerodynamics of tennis balls.
The speed of the game was discussed at length, with Jan Magnus and Franc Klaassen of the Netherlands looking at ways of reducing the service dominance in tennis. The pair used empirical results from four years at Wimbledon to show that the speed of the game is increasing but that receivers are getting better! Two panel sessions were held: “Is the speed of the game too fast and can technology help?” and “What are the dominant causes of injuries in tennis?”
There was plenty of discussion and a variety of opinions. The first panel concluded that the game is in good shape but work needs to be carried out to make sure that it stays that way. The session on injuries came round inevitably to tennis elbow. The resultant discussion showed that it is probably a mixture of shock and vibration that causes this condition.
The area of Facilities was widely covered and the Congress learned about the construction and maintenance of championship grass courts from Wimbledon Head Groundsman Eddie Seaward.
An exhibition was held alongside the Congress to demonstrate cutting edge developments in tennis equipment, facilities, sports science and coaching. A diversity of products were presented, ranging from unique court surface products, to force measuring devices, and shock wave therapy treatment.
The speaker at the conference banquet was Sir Robert May, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government. He gave a speech on the positive benefits of tennis in society and the way that tennis could be used to communicate science to today’s youth.