Smart Club

High-tech train­ing at Bo­gota Rac­quet Club


For a stu­dent of ten­nis, re­view­ing form and tech­nique, what went wrong and what went right on the court dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion or match, is smart. But when it’s the court keep­ing track (with­out hu­man in­ter­ven­tion) cour­tesy of a mind-bog­gling high-tech kiosk court­side, then you know it’s a SmartCourt.

The Bo­gota Rac­quet Club is the first club in the world to de­but the SmartCourt tech­nol­ogy on each and ev­ery court. (Its sis­ter club, Te­nafly Rac­quet Club, has the kiosks on two courts.)

While the tech­nol­ogy is cut­ting edge, the ex­e­cu­tion is as sim­ple as click­ing a screen and swing­ing a rac­quet. There are no sen­sors on the player. The five cam­eras per court record ev­ery move, while the com­puter dif­fer­en­ti­ates and auto tags each one and keeps track of the ball’s tra­jec­tory.

“It shows video at three dif­fer­ent an­gles on the court, auto tags it, so if I want to see all the un­forced er­rors in a match, it not only tells me, it shows me video,” says Gor­don Uehling, owner of both rac­quet clubs and Court­Sense, a high-per­for­mance ten­nis in­struc­tion academy at the clubs. “It also gives a three-di­men­sional view of where the ball landed, where you were in re­la­tion, how much dis­tance you ran on the court.”

Any statistic a player (or coach) would be in­ter­ested in is cat­e­go­rized: serve speed, ball di­rec­tion, shot dis­tance, point pat­terns, game sta­tis­tics, even calo­ries burned. There is no need for video edit­ing or spe­cial knowl­edge of soft­ware. The ma­chine does it all. In­for­ma­tion can be checked im­me­di­ately at the court, or later via any com­puter.

“You can watch the video and get all the sta­tis­tics and keep the data over time, so you can com­pare yourself to yourself,” Uehling says. “All these in­sights give the player a lot of in­for­ma­tion, and more im­por­tant, the coach, to help the player im­prove. It’s a new way of learn­ing how to teach.”

Be­ing able to watch on their own com­put­ers is also an in­cen­tive to the young play­ers.

“I can see it at home and then work on things,” says 12-year-old Matthew Che of Te­nafly.

“For me it’s the vi­su­als,” says 17year-old player Brendan But­ler of Chest­nut Ridge, N.Y. “It helps me a lot, see­ing my­self stop­ping in cer­tain po­si­tions, clock­ing my serve.”

Since the Bo­gota fa­cil­ity is now a Smart club, that changes the face of the 60 or so com­pe­ti­tions held there each year. There will be in­stant sta­tis­tics for all matches.

“Com­pe­ti­tions within com­pe­ti­tions,” Uehling says. “Things like the big­gest serve, big­gest forehand, big­gest rally in the club.”

But you don’t have to be an elite player to ben­e­fit from SmartCourt; it’s just as help­ful to recre­ational play­ers. Uehling says he has stu­dents as young as 5 us­ing it, and it ben­e­fits older play­ers as well.

“A man in his 80s is track­ing how many yards he is run­ning,” he says. “That’s all he cares about.”

WORLD’S FIRST Owner Gor­don Uehling with a SmartCourt kiosk. The Bo­gota Rac­quet Club is the first to have kiosks on ev­ery court.

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