Dynamics of the Tennis Serve and Return – Modeling and Simulation

Z.B. Gradinscak, A Subic, and M. Gradinscak (Australia)


Tennis Serve, Dynamic Modeling, Simulation.


The fundamental challenge the game of tennis faces today is to keep the delicate balance between the apparent changes in playing conditions caused by technological advances (advances of tennis rackets, balls and court surface technologies) and the traditional nature of the game. Most prevalent topic regarding the debate of technology versus tradition in tennis today is the increasing dominance of the serve in the men’s professional tennis game. Evidently the long evolution of tennis has taken place largely as a result of a pragmatic approach to innovation, rather than as an outcome of scientific knowledge of the implications of new technology or strategies for further advancements. This pragmatic approach may no longer be sufficient for any sport thus a continuing debate about these issues and more specifically development of new methods and tools for analyzing all aspects of the game should become an applied practice. The investigations and proposals included in this paper are based on computational simulation of the tennis serve involving the ball’s speed and position in contrast to the returnee’s position with the aim to produce evidence for further correlations in relation to the athlete’s physical limitations. This in return could produce further evidence and rational for development and application of new technological concepts and advancement strategies supported by scientific understanding of various aspects of the game. This paper provides an overview of some of the work conducted to date in modeling a dynamic simulator of the tennis serve. The paper also discusses the plans for future developments of a dynamic simulator of the entire tennis serve and return which will account for all identified factors and will ultimately provide an interactive tennis serve simulator in virtual reality.

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