With a shared vision of improving the level of sportsmanship throughout college tennis, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and PlaySight are embarking on the third season of pilot testing the PlayFair video replay system.
The 2017-18 collegiate tennis season saw 33 different programs participate in a PlayFair tournament at five host sites (USC, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Princeton and California). For 2018-19, the ITA and PlaySight are aiming to have over 50 matches played using PlayFair technology, as they continue to work together to refine and improve the experience for student-athletes, coaches, officials and the college tennis community at large.
Feedback from players, officials and coaches to the PlayFair system has been positive across the board.
ITA Official Bruce Harrison: “The greatest benefit of PlayFair that I see is the acceptance from the players and coaches once a decision is made. Players who think they have been cheated and question a call are put more at ease when the review confirms the out call. Players have more confidence in the PlayFair to be right than a solo official.”
Iowa Women’s Coach Sascha Schmid: “I was very impressed with the PlayFair system in both of the dual matches last season when we used it. The challenges were made with good sportsmanship and the review was quick, very accurate, and it never disrupted the pace of play.”
Virginia Tech Men’s Coach Jim Thompson: “Without a doubt this will become a part of college tennis. It eliminates all feelings that the opponent is making bad calls and I believe makes players more accountable.”
In case you haven’t heard of PlayFair before, here’s a quick review:
PlayFair is a feature of PlaySight’s SmartCourt technology, enabling players to challenge line calls made by their opponents or an official’s overrule using instant video replay (a concept in sports known as Video Assistant Refereeing, or VAR).
VAR is taking over sports at all levels, starting at the top. From pro hockey (NHL) to American football (NFL) and football (FIFA), leagues, federations and associations are adopting video technology to reduce bad calls and enhance the fairness and competitive nature of sports. With PlayFair, players and officials can review where the ball landed by looking at a multi-angle video replay on the PlaySight touchscreen kiosk or an iPad/tablet device.
PlaySight first developed its SmartCourt tennis technology system many years ago to improve training and practice with video and analytics, and soon discovered another use for its multi-angle, real-time video system capabilities – reviewing close line calls during competitive matches and tournaments.
Since officially partnering in 2015, PlaySight and the ITA have looked for ways to integrate in technology to take college tennis to the next level. PlayFair has quickly become the leading initiative and driver of innovation, with the mission to improve the level of sportsmanship throughout college tennis with the goal of increasing participation in, enjoyment, and viewership of the sport. PlaySight has even created a specific SmartCourt – the PLAY, and a dedicated iPad PlayFair app so that programs can host and run PlayFair matches and tournaments.