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SwingVision at Junior Tournaments

This past weekend was the first for the USTA Southern California sectional tournament, a Level 3 Closed (only open to USTA SoCal players) junior tournament held at multiple locations over 2 weekends. Per the tournament website:

SwingVision Electronic Line Challenge system will be used at Lakewood Tennis Center the first weekend of the tournament. 

Instructions for SwingVision –  Challenge System Guide for Players

SwingVision rules and regulataion – Junior Sectionals Line Calling Challege system.docx.pdf

Instructions to register for a SwingVision account –  SoCal Player Signup.jpg

The Specifics

As you see above, all players were alerted at the time they registered that SwingVision would be used at the tournament. They were given the opportunity to set up a free SwingVision account beforehand but could also do it in real time once they arrived on court for their match. The slides linked above provided a how-to for players, parents, and tournament officials so everyone was educated on how the system would be used.

SwingVision had a 4-person staff on site to set up the technology and equipment before matches began. On each of 14 courts, there was one iPhone mounted to the back fence which would record the match and one iPad on a tripod at the net post which would be used for challenges. SwingVision staff monitored the battery levels of both throughout the day, replacing the external plug-in batteries with freshly charged ones as needed. The goal is that, after training and these test events are complete, USTA staff will be running these tournaments completely on their own by Fall 2024.

The SwingVision staff and the tournament officials were connected via radio to quickly attend to any issues that arose with the technology or the players’ use of it. For example, on one court I watched as a ball hit the tripod holding the iPad, and a SwingVision staffer was there within a minute to reset it, so there was little if any delay due to technical or equipment snafus. The only delay I witnessed was when a player challenged a call then looked at the incorrect shot on the iPad. An official came on court but was unable to help. A SwingVision staffer was called to the court and immediately recognized that the players were looking at the wrong shot for the challenge. Once he pointed out the correct shot, both players agreed on the call and play resumed without further issue.

SwingVision will be on 16 courts for the QFs, SFs, and Finals next weekend at Great Park in Irvine.

Observations

I sat outside the court and watched several matches throughout the morning/afternoon at Lakewood Tennis Center. I had a chance to speak with Swuphil Sahai, creator of SwingVision, and to get an on-court demonstration of how the tech was set up and to be used by the players.

Click the image to play the video:

I also had a chance to speak with players, parents, and officials, and heard pretty much the same thing from all of them: the technology took the stress out of the match. The players could play more freely since they had the challenge system in place. They were more careful in their own calls knowing the technology could be used to overrule them. As one parent told me, “It [SwingVision] helped to relieve the stress of worrying about fairness, and, more importantly, if the umpire would come to the court when requested to handle the situation. I didn’t hear anyone calling for an umpire nor did I hear the phrase ‘Are you sure?’ uttered once all weekend.” A player shared that she didn’t have to challenge any calls because she felt SwingVision changed the players’ behavior in general. They were able to play without the drama of cheating or suspected cheating. That sentiment was shared by every player I asked. Every. Single. One.

When I asked an on-site USTA official what she thought of the technology, she said she saw players playing more out balls than usual (remember, I was at the site for the U18s so these are experienced competitors!) which she deemed a positive. The Rules of Tennis state that if a player is not 100% sure whether a ball is out, they are to play it as in, giving the benefit of the doubt to their opponent. In this official’s observation, the level of sportsmanship was very high, there were almost no player outbursts, and the overall mood at the tournament was upbeat and positive.

That said, there was some grumbling and misinformation being passed among the parents, namely having to do with the accuracy of the SwingVision line-calling technology. Just to clear things up for everyone, Swupnil confirmed in a follow-up communication that for shots landing within 10 centimeters of a line, SwingVision gets in/out calls correct 97% of the time. As a point of reference, humans are only about 90% correct for those same calls! I hope this article will clarify any misinformation regarding SwingVision’s accuracy as it becomes more widely adopted.

You may have seen a press release I shared on our Facebook page last week from USTA announcing its investment in Play/Replay, another line-calling tech. I have requested to speak with someone at USTA about its decision to support Play/Replay vs. SwingVision and hope to be able to share more information soon.

Meanwhile, one college coach who was on site at Lakewood over the weekend mentioned he had seen a demo of the Play/Replay product over a video call with them. Their product requires 4-8 cameras per court and costs $3-5k per court which will likely make it unaffordable for many college programs. In contrast, SwingVision’s line-calling solution, which also includes recording the matches for the players, requires an entry-level iPhone and iPad that can be re-used on any court at any tournament. SwingVision has set up a very attractive pricing plan for USTA that comes in at less than $10.00 per match, a price that could easily be passed on to tournament entrants without, I’m guessing, much complaint on the part of the parents.

“I think any system that requires multiple cameras will be extremely hard to scale across the amateur market. Ultimately, solutions that require multiple cameras are prioritizing making their engineers’ lives easier over making a solution that is accessible for the masses. SwingVision’s solution is 10 times more difficult to accomplish from an engineering perspective but the end result is an ease of use, portability and affordability that is unmatched,” shares SwingVision’s Co-Founder and CEO, Swupnil Sahai.

Earlier this year, SwingVision was granted a patent for its single-camera line calling AI and the system’s accuracy improves constantly as 200k+ players around the world record their matches every month.

Let’s hope USTA expands its use of SwingVision to ALL JUNIOR TOURNAMENTS ACROSS ALL SECTIONS! This could be the biggest game-changer for Junior Tennis we’ve seen in many, many years.

If you were at the tournament, please share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Comments

  1. User Avatar
    Lisa Stone on 22nd Jun 2024

    Per Trevor Kronemann of USTA SoCal: This is something we’ve been waiting for for a while. The first two tests with SwingVision went very well. We really believe it’s going to change the landscape of junior tennis. The reaction from the public has been more than enough to continue forward with the project and making it a better place for junior tennis.

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