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Getting ‘served’: Tennis by the numbers

Jeff Kavanaugh, VP - Global Head of Infosys Knowledge Institute, in conversation with Semra Barutchu, Vice President, Infosys

Highlights

  • Technology can help in making the game more accessible and bringing in more players and opportunities, along with affording more exposure to the game that has so far been considered a niche sport.
  • Jeff Kavanaugh, VP - Global Head of Infosys Knowledge Institute,notes that there is a serious need to democratize data, because the playing field isn’t levelled
  • “Then more players, more coaches, casual players, as well as competitive ones can make use of it, as well as broadcasters, to make it entertaining,” notes Kavanaugh.

If you’re hoping to experience a face-off between some of the world’s best tennis players, you might have to wait a while. Surf the internet for upcoming tennis tournaments, and chances are that you’ll hit pages that say that the season has been pushed back or cancelled. Blame it on Covid-19, and its serious impact on the world as we know it. Among other sporting events, presently, pro tennis has also been suspended owing to the outbreak of the pandemic.

At a time like this, the organizers of Grand Slam tournaments are now deliberating the future of the sport, including steps such as taking complete tournaments behind closed doors, with modified rules, exhibition matches. Digital tennis tournaments, and national tournaments are gradually being initiated to cater to audience interests.

There is also a strong realization that the experience of the sport, as we’ve known it, has fundamentally changed.

While the change is dramatic, adjusting to the new normal in the post-Covid world, technologies such as data and AI can play an effective role in an environment that was already changing, but now faster than ever. Not only can technology help in making the game more accessible and bringing in more players and opportunities, but can also afford more exposure to the game that has so far been considered an exciting, but a niche sport.

Data could play a key role here.

Talking about the changing Tennis ecosystem, Jeff Kavanaugh, VP - Global Head of Infosys Knowledge Institute, had a conversation with Semra Barutchu, Vice President, Infosys, regarding the Infosys’ Tennis Radar Report. Going forward, he says, technology could aid Tennis to face various disruptions, survive and thrive in the future.

He notes that there is a serious need to democratize data. Essentially because the playing field isn’t quite levelled right now, he says, suggesting that the data should be made available to more people. The other insight on data analytics, and tech, he notes, is the acceptance of technology in different geographies, is that different countries, and different age groups react to it differently.

“Some countries like India and China really embrace it, while some of the more traditional countries, especially like, maybe, Germany and France, like it, but (are) just not quite as enthusiastic yet,” says Kavanaugh, noting that data can help change that as well.

Considering the current environment, even traditional countries might have to adopt technology at a much faster pace.

He also suggests that the sport is going from the Grand Slam traditional countries to a lot of other countries, and the sport is changing.

“The people that serve the sport, much like those that serve business, need to keep that in mind… A lot of things are changing in the same things that you look at as a consumer, you’ll be seeing in Tennis as well,” he notes, adding that research shows that the more of that data can be translated to meaningful experiences.

“Then more players, more coaches, casual players, as well as competitive ones can make use of it, as well as broadcasters, to make it entertaining,” notes Kavanaugh.

And, with Covid-19 changing the way the game is played, technology is going to play a more central role for the players, organizers, as well as the viewers.

Note: This interview was recorded before the impact of Covid-19 was visible on the sport.

To know more about how analytics and experience are now fundamental to tennis, and how technology can help the sport get there read the Tennis Radar Report.

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