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Money Players

Monday, May 19, 2014 /by

Back in January I wrote about my experience playing on a SmartCourt. It’s essentially a court outfitted with high-definition cameras that record and tag every stroke, step, and sweat bead you muster during your playing session, along with an interactive courtside kiosk that displays all the gory details. If the scoreboard never lies, a SmartCourt offers the proof.

While extremely innovative, with numerous potential analytical and teaching applications, SmartCourts are still relatively scarce; they can be found at about ten locations in the New York area, as well as a handful of clubs in Europe (a total of 35 courts). However, greater expansion is not far off. PlaySight International, the company behind the SmartCourt, announced today that they’ve received $3.5 million in funding for a global roll-out. What makes it particularly newsworthy isn’t that they acquired the capital—startups do that all the time—but who they got it from. Among the notable investors are current world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, and tennis legend Billie Jean King.

Besides the royalty on the professional level, a few other distinguished tennis luminaries are also part of the investment team, including:

Ray Benton, former PROSERV president and current CEO of the Tennis Center at College Park (Md.); Dr. James Loehr, co-founder of the Human Performance Institute and former coach to Jim Courier and Monica Seles; and financier Mark Ein, International Tennis Hall of Fame board member and owner of the WTT’s Washington Kastles. (Given Ein’s and BJK’s involvement, I’d be stunned if SmartCourts weren’t used in WTT as early as this year).

Clearly the involvement of tennis luminaries guarantees nothing in the way of success. But it is a pretty good start. For one thing, they have countless connections in the sport that can open doors and offer valuable exposure to the system. And, even if you don’t trust my (highly esteemed) opinion, the backing of such people does lend a certain degree of legitimacy to the technology.

PlaySight claims it is scheduled to install SmartCourts at more than 100 facilities located in New York, Florida, California, and various other parts of the world later this year. Even if none of these new sites are near you, it appears you won't be shutout for long.

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