Israeli Start-up Upgrading Tennis Technology

PlaySight changing the way professionals coach, aiming to eliminate bad calls.

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Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, questioning a call during a match against Andy Murray, of Britain, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sept. 3, 2014, in New York. Credit: AP

An Israeli start-up is offering an even more advanced option than the Hawk-Eye camera system currently in use at Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

PlaySight, developed by former Israel Air Force engineers, "records footage via five strategically placed cameras and then slices and dices it for instant analysis, Bloomberg Pursuits will report in its Autumn 2014 issue," according to Bloomberg.

The technology uses auto-tagging software to track every "event-based decision," similar to a flight simulator.

“There are a lot of similarities between pilots and tennis players,” says PlaySight Chief Executive Officer Chen Shachar. “Individuals in both pursuits operate without coaching for long periods of time under physical and mental duress.”

The company announced in May it had raised $3.5 million from high-profile private investors, including Novak Djokovic and Billie Jean King.

Use of this footage is changing the way coaches train their students, Bloomberg reports.

“I’ve stopped talking during lessons,” says Gilad Bloom, a coach and former ATP Top 100 player who recently installed the system at The Club of Riverdale in the Bronx, New York. “I let them hit a few balls, and then we go look at the screen. They say, ‘I’m not bending my knees.’ I tell them, ‘I know; I’ve been telling you that for three years!’”

Bloom says the system is also able to eliminate bad calls.

“Imagine, in a few years, when every point at every tournament, from juniors to college to club tennis, can be replayed by a line judge with an iPad,” he says.

Some 50 facilities in the U.S. are using PlaySight, and Shachar expects his company to install 100 systems in the U.S. this year and to go international "in earnest" next year. Former world No. 1 Stefan Edberg, Roland Garros Stadium and London's Queen's Club have all installed the system in their facilities.

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