High tech tennis anyone? Wingfield ‘connected courts’ case study
A charming 120-year-old club in the British countryside is at the cutting edge of technology, with a tennis court equipped with artificial intelligence from Wingfield
The Avenue is a welcoming community-focused sports and social club with more than 1,000 members. Located in Havant, Hampshire, it is a friendly and inclusive hub where people of all ages and abilities can meet up and play tennis and have some fun.
Dating back to 1902, The Avenue may at first seem traditional, but the forward-looking club is adopting innovative technology. Since moving to its current site in 1920, its facilities have expanded to 10 grass and seven all-weather courts (four synthetic clay and three artificial grass), including one equipped with the Wingfield ‘connected court’ system.
Driving digital change
For a club steeped in history, The Avenue is certainly ahead of the game. Wingfield tracks players’ activities during a match or practice session, providing detailed
insight into their game – from first-serve percentage to every backhand’s average height over the net. Players receive instant video and data in user-friendly formats, delivered on the court or via a smartphone app.
Wrapped unobtrusively around Court 11’s net post, the sleek white Wingfield Box – based on artificial intelligence and image-processing technology – generates real-time performance data that enable players of all skill and experience levels, and their coaches, to measure improvements.
Wingfield facilitates friendly competition and comparison to other players using the system both locally and worldwide in a variety of Drill Challenges. It even offers a wide range of match statistics previously only known from the broadcasts of major tournaments, allowing amateur players to compare themselves with professional tennis champions.
This investment in the future of tennis – led at The Avenue by coach Ashley Neaves – has been popular with the current membership (many of whom skew older) as well as the younger generation Wingfield is attracting to the club.
‘WHEN YOU START USING IT, YOU REALISE HOW USEFUL IT CAN BE’
EVE (CLUB MEMBER AT THE AVENUE)
The Wingfield word spreads
From the moment its Wingfield Box was installed, Court 11 has been booked out almost constantly. While it was an instant hit with kids, teenagers and younger adults, some of the club’s older members took a little time to warm to the idea of a white ‘smart box’ judging their game, but they’re now the ones at the front of Court 11’s queue. Everyone is talking stats, like their fastest serves and Wingfield Drill high scores and rankings. Not only are they pitting themselves against other players in the club, they’re also enjoying some sociable ‘rivalry’ with the coaching team.
And word about Wingfield spread quickly, especially as it’s not uncommon for professional tennis players to call in at The Avenue to have their rackets strung and customised by Wimbledon’s head stringer, who takes care of club members’ rackets. When the professionals heard about Wingfield’s capabilities, they jumped at the chance to compare the weights of different rackets and see how the speed of their shots were impacted.
The Avenue and Court 11 have become a bit of a local attraction among players of all ages and skill levels.
A brave new world of tennis
The Avenue’s coaching team quickly recognised the new opportunities Wingfield offers and incorporated them into their training regimen, using the system’s video and statistical analysis capabilities to lift everyone’s game. This approach makes training more interactive: a video analysis session dedicated to a player’s technique, for example, helps them improve via the most personalised feedback possible, as they can see visual playback of their own game.
But it isn’t all coaching on Court 11. A wide variety of players take to the court, with some using The Avenue’s ball machine to practise their forehands and backhands, while others come alone with a few balls to work on their serves. Fair warning, though: the Wingfield court can become addictive. Once you play a Drill and instantly get your score and ranking, you just want to keep getting better and better.
‘THE STAT I PROBABLY LIKE THE MOST IS THE HEIGHT ABOVE THE NET. I’VE NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BEFORE’
BECKY (CLUB MEMBER AT THE AVENUE)
The more, the merrier
The Avenue wanted Wingfield to help their existing members get the most out of their game, but also hoped it would attract a younger demographic to tennis – including teens, young adults and families. To say the plan has been successful on all fronts is an understatement: existing members of all ages love how Wingfield allows them to be creative to unleash the full potential of the court, while many new junior players have joined The Avenue.
But this success is not just down to Wingfield, of course, or even the fact that the club has decided not to charge people extra fees to use and enjoy Wingfield’s impressive array of capabilities. Rather, it is The Avenue’s holistic approach to tennis and the sheer enjoyment of playing there.
In the end, it was about setting up a modern club with top-class facilities that would not only inspire more people to play tennis, but also safeguard
the future of the sport by ensuring its continued growth at all levels.
For The Avenue, the use of digital technology in match play and training is an effective and fun way to help players get the most out of their game, with all of the possibilities that the court offers them. And The Avenue – with its high-tech, futureproof Court 11 – certainly offers that in spades.
To join The Avenue in this tennis court revolution get in touch with the Wingfield team
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