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What research tells us about tennis scoring systems

Authors:
  • International Tennis Federation
  • Tennis Australia
17
9th YEAR ISSUE 25, DECEMBER 2001
Bothorel, W. (2000). The tennis
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MISCELLANEOUS
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A series of articles on tennis scoring
systems which have appeared in
sport scientific publications are
summarised below. Coaches
interested in obtaining more
information from these articles can
find them using the relevant
references.
No-ad scoring
The paper asserts that no-ad scoring
modifies tennis tactics and strategy.
The author states that it permits a
two-set match to be played in under
an hour, yet giving the players a
better opportunity to test their skills
in a competitive situation.
The author indicates that when
not playing advantage the duration
of the matches is shortened and
every point becomes crucial. Tactics
and strategy are more conservative
than in the traditional scoring,
mainly because a point is far more
valuable.
One feature of no-ad scoring is
that considerable effort and energy
go into a point. In traditional
scoring, at deuce, an error may be
costly but not so much so that it is
always decisive. In the no-ad scoring
however, the player has no second
chance. This led the author to
recommend that players should
learn to think no-ad and limit their
attempts at outright winners.
Coaches should in turn help their
players to evaluate game situations
and to make appropriate decisions.
Goldstein, B.J. (1977). No-ad
scoring in tennis. Scholastic coach,
58-64.
Tie-break versus “win-by-two
games” tennis rules
This paper compares the “win-by-
two games” tennis rule with the
effect of the tie-break rule on the
what tennis research tells us about
tennis scoring systems
Compiled and summarised by Miguel Crespo and Machar Reid (ITF)
Coaches Review – DEC 01 (UK) 22/11/01 1:05 PM Page 17
18 9th YEAR ISSUE 25, DECEMBER 2001
expected outcome and duration of a
tennis set once the game score has
reached 6-6. Within these situations,
the probability of a particular player
winning each point (when playing a
specific opponent) may be estimated
from previous matches between the
two players.
If a player in a social match is
given the option between the two
rules, and she feels that her
estimated probability of winning
each point is less that 0.50, then her
prospects for victory will be
enhanced by choosing the tie-break
rule.
The probabilities obtained indicate
that the winner of the set will often
be decided in less than half the
number of points when the tie-break
system is used.
Croucher, J.S. (1982). The effect of
the tennis tie-breaker. Research
Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 53,
4, 336-339.
Probability of winning games
This paper analyses the status of
each point played in a game of
tennis. As well as giving the
probability of each player winning
from any score, it also determines
the relative importance of each
point.
The paper states that every point
is equally important to both players.
Additionally, the importance of a
point is weighed by the expected
number of times the point is played
in a game. Several of the paper’s
conclusions are: 1. The point 30—40
always ranks higher in terms of
importance than the point 15-30, 2.
The first point (0-0) is always of only
average importance, 3. No point has
a consistently high or low ranking
for all probabilities.
Croucher, J.S. (1986). The
conditional probability of winning
games of tennis. Research Quarterly
for Exercise and Sport, 57, 1, 23-26.
New tennis scoring system
This study addressed the problem
of delays incurred in the scheduled
starting times of tennis matches as a
result of unexpectedly long previous
matches and devises a new scoring
system to reduce the problem.
The subsequent aim was to take
the present tennis scoring system
and modify it as little as possible to
produce a new scoring system with a
more predictable duration. The new
system is a best of five half sets
system. This system is very similar to
the present best of three tie-breaker
sets system with only one exception
– the standard deviation of the
number of points in a match is
typically considerably smaller with
the new system.
The half sets operate in the
following way: A half unit is
awarded to a player as soon as that
player’s game score reaches four (4-
0, 4-1, 4-2). The player would
therefore also win the half set and
receive one unit score. If the game
score reaches 3-3, the half set counts
as a draw and each player receives a
half unit. The next half set is played.
The match is over as soon as one
player’s score reaches 3 units.
However, if the unit score reaches
2.5 to 2.5, a tie-break as is currently
used, is played to determine the
winner.
Pollard, G.H. (1987). A new tennis
scoring system. Research Quarterly
for Exercise and Sport, 58, 3, 229-
233.
Reaction time and tie-breaks
The aim of this paper was to
evaluate the reaction time of the
return of serve while also comparing
the speed of the serve with the
percentage of tie-breaks at Roland
Garros, Wimbledon and the US
Open (1999). Results showed that:
1. Receivers decrease their success
of returning when the serve is
above approximately 100 mph,
2. Service speed is related to the
surface played upon with grass
having the fastest serves and clay
the slowest,
3. The number of tie-breaks increase
significantly at speeds above 110
mph, and
4. The higher the speed of the serve
and the faster the surface, the
greater number of tie-breaks that
are played in matches.
Haake, S.J., Rose, P. & Kotze, J.
(2000). Reaction time testing and
Grand Slam tie-break data. In S.J.
Haake & A.O. Coe (Eds.). Tennis
Science & Technology. Blackwell
Science. Oxford. (269-275).
Other references
Schutz, R.W. (1970). A mathematical model for
evaluating scoring systems with specific
reference to tennis. Research Quarterly for
Exercise and Sport, 41, 552-561.
Coaches Review – DEC 01 (UK) 22/11/01 1:05 PM Page 18
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Caveat lector et viewor - Let the reader and viewer beware! Thus sayeth Silberg et al.1 in their brief account of the apparent incompatibility between freedom of the press and accuracy of medical information. They point out that the problem is too much, rather than too little information. The Internet, where every Tom, Dick and Harry can be their own author, editor and publisher, is widely available to both lay and professional browsers. This has brought about a situation where a multitude of information seekers equipped with one or other search engine, wallow through a morass of material that ranges from first class research data to profound garbage. Without a medical background it is well-nigh impossible for the average person-in-the-street to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Training women players
  • E Giffenig
Giffenig, E. (1999). Training women players, 18, 5-6.
The new format for the Fed Cup
  • D Jevans
Jevans, D. (1999). The new format for the Fed Cup, 18, 17.
Charter for players on national teams
  • J C Massias
Massias, J.C. (1998). Charter for players on national teams, 15, 2.
  • D Miley
Miley, D. (2000).1999 Development Report, 20, 2-3.
USA Tennis High Performance Coaches Programme Philosophy
  • N Saviano
Saviano, N. (1999). USA Tennis High Performance Coaches Programme Philosophy, 19, 2.
What makes a good coach indeed?
  • S Stojan
Stojan, S. (1997). What makes a good coach indeed?, 13, 14-15.