The Heavy Ball in
Modern Pro Tennis
Spin. Fearsome spin. It's one of the most obvious and most important components in modern pro tennis and a key to hitting the mythical heavy ball.
RPMs on individual shots can reach 5000 or more. In the one second or so it takes for the ball to travel from one player's racket to the other, the ball can turn over 80 times or more. That's almost impossible to visualize.
But where did the first measurements of spin come from? The U.S. Open 1997. I was there with a team that was using one of the first high speed cameras—the so-called “Mac Cam.”
That camera filmed at 250 frames per second. Fast enough to see the ball bounce on the court in relation to the lines. That's what the networks used it for.
But I thought these cameras should also be pointed at the players. They were also fast enough to see the ball on the strings and then follow the rotation of the ball over its flight.