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Wanted: Tennis Hackathons to solve big data questions

  • Tennis Australia

A world first Tennis Hackathon will start today in a bid to help tackle the sport’s big data issues. Tennis Australia’s Game Insight Group (GIG) will launch the biggest single release of tracking data in the sport’s history as part of the event. Talented scientists and machine learners from around the world will go head-to-head to find a way to automate the call of forced and unforced errors in professional tennis.
'From AO to AI' is a result of a partnership between GIG and Silicon Valley-based data pioneer CrowdANALYTIX. The tennis hackathon will run during the lead-up and right throughout the entire Australian Open with the US $5000 prizemoney winner announced on AO Finals weekend at the end of the month.
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley is excited about the hackathon and said it was an important step forward for the GIG team in their bid to help bridge the gap between tennis and other major international sports in data and analytics.
“In simple terms, we want to do our bit in launching a statistical revolution in tennis. We believe it will help keep our sport relevant and provide even more connection with fans across the globe. This is just a starting point,” Tiley explained.
Tennis Australia Head of Innovation Dr Machar Reid said the automation of forced and unforced errors was a good place to begin. “For more than 40 years, tennis matches have been described using the terms – first serve percentage, second serve percentage, unforced errors, forced errors, yet we still are unable to consistently define what some of them mean. This competition has been set up to try to remove this guesswork so that we can begin to advance the sport,” Dr Reid explained.
“We eventually hope to have tennis data and analysis at the same level as other major global sports. In the end it is all about giving everyone involved – the fans, coaches, media, administrators – an even greater appreciation of what makes this sport and its athletes so special.”
The hackathon is a data science competition designed to attract the interest of scientists in the world’s machine learning community and get their help in solving a tech problem specific to tennis. “It is a successful method which has led to some amazing innovations. This will be the first time it is applied to tennis in this way and holding it during the Australian Open is the perfect time to generate the most interest,” Dr Reid explained.

To launch 'From AO to AI', GIG will release more than 10,000 points of Grand Slam tracking data to the public for research – an important world-first according to Tennis Australia Data Analyst Stephanie Kolvalchik.
“This is an historic step as it will be the first large-scale release of Hawkeye data the sport has ever seen. We recognise how open access to high-quality data helped launch a new analytics era in sport and, in taking this step, are hoping to propel a new data-savvy era for tennis,” Kolvalchik said.
With more than 17,000 data scientists registered to the site, CrowdANALYTIX is one of the world’s leading crowdsourcing platforms for finding solutions to complex problems. Previous competitions hosted on the platform include making airplanes more fuel efficient and predicting the daily spot price of copper. It has been used by Fortune 500 companies Walmart, AT&T and DellEMC along with KPMG and McKinsey.
To enter the From AO to AI Tennis Hackathon, register your details at: