Gender and surface effects and reliability of service direction in elite tennis
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The study investigated whether gender and/ or surface have an effect on the service direction strategies used by elite tennis players in singles events at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. A database of 404 matches, showing serve statistics was created. Five out of the six matches used in the reliability study, found the web-based data used was reliable in relation to the analytical goals of the study. The data was analysed by applying non-parametric statistical procedures. The results show that significantly more first serves were directed into the left and right zones (P<0.05), and significantly more second serves were directed into the middle zone (P<0.05) at all three tournaments. Significant differences were also found between genders, with men generally directing more serves to the left and right zones, and females directing more serves into the middle zone (P<0.05). The differences in serve direction between surfaces were significant to all three directional zones at all three tournaments (P<0.05). The results also showed men were more likely to win a point on serve than women, a point was more likely to be won resulting from a first serve than a second serve, and serves directed to the left and right zones were more likely to be won than serves directed into the middle zone. The differences found were attributed to less risk being taken on second serves, women using the serve as a means of getting the ball into play, and the differences in the coefficient of friction and the coefficient of restitution between the different surfaces. The findings can be reported to coaches and aspiring players to assist decision making leading up to a match or tournament. Key Words: Notational analysis, Tennis strategy, Serve direction, Reliability.
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