Technology behind Tennis and How It Is Used To Help the Umpires

Technology in Tennis

The most common feature in the current world is technological advancements. Technological advancements characterize every sector and field of activities across the entire globe, such as in tennis as discussed here. As a result, even sporting finds itself under the web of technological advancements.  Just like in other areas, the use of technology in sporting is helping to utilize various man-made abilities so as to arrive at various objectives characterizing a certain sport. Embracing technological advancements in sports helps the sportspeople to increase their knowledge with the ability to apply special equipment from the modern technology in the pursuit of yielding efficient sports results (Sayers 1).

Tennis is one of the main games whose players and umpires enjoy the efficiency of applying technological advancements to the advantage of developing better sports. The Hawk-Eye System is the most featured technological advancement embraced in the tennis sport. As expected, very many sports stakeholders continuously criticize the application and use of the Hawk-Eye technology in tennis. The main aim of the questioning is to seek understanding of the impact the Hawk-Eye technological advancement has had on the tennis sport, especially with respect to making the work of the umpires easy.

The Hawk-Eye Technology Development Process

The Hawk-Eye is ideally a system that concentrates on line calling and is applied to trace the trajectory of tennis balls, sending and displaying it on a computer for virtual analysis. The above system consists of complex computer aided targeting systems that facilitate the tracking the path of a flying object within a certain flying range. Originally, the Hawk-Eye developers aimed at applying it in cricket. However, as a result of the near similarity with respect to the ball and playing technique, the system soon found its way to tennis as well as snooker. Currently, there are ongoing developments aimed adding more functionalities necessary to apply the technology in Hawk-Eye in both football and soccer.

The Hawk-Eye System featured for the first time in tennis during the Australian Opens in the year 2003. However, during its debut in the tournament, the International Tennis Federation applied the system purely for experimental purposes, and it had not impacted on the games. Since the above experiment, the International Tennis Federation carried on with further experiments making the necessary amendments where necessary. By the year 2005, the system had already passed a lot of tests and was almost ready to be officially integrated with the tennis sport.

The rationale upon which the practicality of the Hawk-Eye system finds its basis is quite simple. The figure below indicates the basic setup of all the necessary technological tools that make the Hawk-Eye system a success in tennis (Sayers 1).

From the illustration in the above figure, the functionality and application of the Hawk-Eye System is clear and straightforward. The mathematical equations applied behind the scenes may be very complex, but the physical components are simple to understand and use. The system incorporates the use of ten high-speed cameras around a tennis court – two on each with and three on each length. All the cameras trace and capture all the movements of the ball in the entire court (Inside Tennis 1). Each captures the ball from a different perspective and reports by sending the information to high-speed computers in the court as well. As soon as the collecting computer receives the above information, it sends it to another high speed computer that measures the both the trajectory and the speed of the tennis ball as it moves from one player to the other. Upon the consideration of the above measurements, the evaluated information helps other computers to apply some complex equations enabling them to determine where the tennis ball lands – with a standard deviation of just three millimeters (Pilhofer 1).

According to the above illustration, the information applies to the game and helps in making calls more consistent as well as fixing the general errors in line calling. At the present, the rules according to the International Tennis Federation give room for just three challenges in every set. In a case where the players get a tie, each of them receives an additional challenge (Inside Tennis 1). As long as they are correct, a player is allowed to continue challenging line calls. With every executed line call challenge, the allotted quota reduces until all the allowed line call challenges are depleted. However, the provisions of the Federation state that a player who is challenging a line call must do so on the court, and the execution of the challenge must be timely. Timeliness includes the consideration of factors such as the stopping of the current time, indicating to the umpire of the intention to challenge a line call, as well as approaching the net. Below is an image of a real Hawk-Eye System camera in action during a tennis game (Pilhofer 1).

Benefits of the Hawk-Eye Technology in Tennis

The application of the Hawk-Eye technology in tennis is immensely advantageous. It helps the umpires officiate over the game with much ease and confidence. As a result, the integration of the above system has resulted in the improvement of fan involvement. In the traditional tennis games that featured no technology, the umpires officiated over the matches making decisions passed on 100% pure human observations (McIntyre 1). As a result, the umpires were faced with a lot of pressures and criticisms from both the players as well as the fans of the game. However, with the application of the Hawk-Eye System, such massive criticism is less because they make use of the system to execute accurate moves. Additionally, the presence of the system makes the players play keenly and strategically. They are aware that the system is not prone to foul as the case was with traditional umpires. As a result, the game becomes more thrilling. The fans lay more emphasis on the strategies and drama displayed by the new age players who play under the critical surveillance of the system (Langshaw 1). Once again, the spotlight is on the game and the players and not on the umpires.

In the past, the umpires have had to deal with cases of players who are not psychologically prepared and ready for their matches. Dealing with such players is a nightmare to the umpires since they cause major disputes taking a lot of time to solve in the court. The major problem facing the umpires was players disputing with their judgments. The rationale for the above finds its basis in the fact that at times, the umpire may make an incorrect judgment with reference to a serve. On the other hand, the umpire may make a correct judgment but the player sees it from a different perspective and thus gets a conviction that it was wrong. While the umpire officiates over games with such disputes, it becomes very hard, and the professionalism fades away. However, the incorporation of the Hawk-Eye System brings the best solution (Langshaw 1). With the help of the high-speed computers and the accuracy of the complex mathematical equations applied in the system, all a player has to do is look at the screen and see where it concurs with what the umpire says. As a result, despite the player’s point of view, the accuracy of the system helps them to readily agree with the results and look forward to improving their game as opposed to arguing about seeming judgment umpire errors.

In light of the above, the best advantage of the integration of the Hawk-Eye System in the tennis sport is fostering the best relationship between the tennis players and the officiating umpires. In the traditional fully umpire based tennis, the judging officials were always in bad terms with the players even outside the court (McIntyre 1). As a result of some on-court judgment errors, some hatred developed between the two important parties in the sport. Such a culture is not healthy for either of the parties, as well as for the entire game. As a result, the integration of the Hawk-Eye System helps in avoiding any preconceived notions of the umpires by the players. As a result, the players are in a position to respect the decisions by the umpires on the court and accept their share of responsibility for losing or poor performance. The increase in the respect of the umpires by the empires helps in preserving the authenticity, as well as the survival of the tennis sport.

Disadvantages of Technology in Tennis

Apparently, like every other technological advancement system, the Hawk-Eye System has its fair share of reported inconveniences. One problem with the use of the system is in its application. The system requires a significantly huge investment in computers and computer technology. As a result, the Hawk-Eye technology features only in high profile courts such as Arthur Ashe and Rod Laver that host the US Open and the Australian Open, respectively. The other courts are yet to feature the above technology. As a result, there is a lot of concern as to whether the Hawk-Eye System technology was only developed for the best and high seeded tennis players (O’Callaghan 1).

The other problem with the problem is that it makes the umpire as well as his accompanying line judges very hesitant in making calls. The rationale for their hesitation finds its basis from the fact that the Hawk-Eye System gives the players the ability to challenge the decisions of the umpire and the line judges, especially if such decisions differ with what the system indicates (O’Callaghan 1). In addition, the presence of the system has led to increased scenarios of empires failing to give attention to the points. Their cause of delayed calls is fear of embarrassment from challenging players.

Reflections on the Hawk-Eye Technology

The integration of the Hawk-Eye technology in the tennis sport has resulted in tremendous results. With its contributions, the players and the umpires have the ability to use new levels of strategy thus taking the sports higher than it has ever been. All the major stakeholders in the tennis sport are fascinated and like the technological advancement incorporated in the Hawk-Eye System (Pilhofer 1). To start with, the umpires advocate for the use of the system because it helps them making better judgments and avoiding minor and unimportant conflicts with the players on and off the courts. Secondly, the players can play with psychological balance. The accuracy and unbiased nature of the system help them readily agree with the calls by the umpires and the line judges. Finally, the system challenges the players in such a way that they can yield their best. In so doing, the fans have a chance to increase their enjoyment and excitement from the game.

References

Inside Tennis. ‘Inside Tennis: Hawk-Eye Technology: Big Brother Is Watching’.Community.active.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Langshaw, Mark. ‘Wimbledon 2014: How Technology Is Revolutionizing Tennis’. Digital Spy. N.p., 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

McIntyre, M. ‘Federer Slams Hawk-Eye, Asks For Changes In Heat Rule – Pro Tennis Fan’.Protennisfan.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

O’Callaghan, Jonny. ‘Top 5 Facts: Controversial Hawk-Eye Moments | How It Works Magazine’.Howitworksdaily.com. N.p., 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Pilhofer, Aaron. ‘Hawk-Eye Replay System A Hit At The U.S. Open’. Nytimes.com. N.p., 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Sayers, Curtis. ‘Technology In Sports’. Studiosayers.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

 

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