Tennis Analytics should tell a Story

Ash Barty Serve Preparation

TV tennis stats have always been heavily focused on the end of a point. Player 1 hit this many forehand winners and this many forehand errors. 

Tennis on TV is all about showing 3 things:

  1. Who ended the point.
  2. Which shot ended the point.
  3. Whether the point-ending shot was an unforced error or a winner. 

So, the story goes something like this: Ash Barty hit a forehand and it was a winner. (We still like to sneak Ash’s name in even though she’s retired) 🙁

The two points below show this exact scenario.

Look at those two points from a different perspective. Instead of “Ash Barty hit a forehand and it was a winner” ie the same for both points, let’s tell the story of the point.

Every story has a beginning: the server
The story in the middle: rally length
Every story has an ending: who won the point

Now we can look at the two points from Ash Barty again, and look at them in a different context. Instead of “Ash Barty hit a forehand and it was a winner“, we have:

Point 1: Ash Barty served, the rally went 3 shots and Ash Barty won the point.
Point 2: Karolina Pliskova served, the rally went 6 shots and Ash Barty won the point.

Now we have context and a different way of looking at those points. We also have the ability to build other analytics from those 3. For example, Ash served to Deuce, the rally went 3 shots. Ash won the point with a forehand. And we can build from there.

As soon as players have context, their understanding of how tennis is played at higher levels is heightened significantly. Once they see their own points in context and analytics to go with it, they have a measurable way to improve and fix any problems that may occur from week to week, tournament to tournament.