How Effective Is Playing
the Net Really?

Jeremy Rosen

How statistically effective is playing the net really?

Is playing the net more effective than staying at the baseline? The simplest method to answer this question is to compare win probabilities at the net versus at the baseline.

In the final section of his brilliant article on the New Magic Numbers, Craig O'Shannessy reports that players won 65% of their approaches in his studies at the U.S. Open, and that this percentage was almost as high at every level, from 12 and unders up through college tennis. (Click Here.)

However, my research shows this method is insufficient to make a truly accurate determination. Why? Because win probabilities at net can be deceptively high.

When using statistics to determine the effectiveness of playing the net, it's essential to account for other relevant variables--not just win probabilities. For instance, many approach shots are hit off easy balls, which give you an advantage in winning the point irrespective of whether you approach the net or not.

Want to study the rest of this article?

Click Here to Subscribe!

Jeremy Rosen is a former college tennis player and math major who runs a tennis analytics website called Topspin Shot Research. (Click Here.) He uses advanced statistical techniques to better contextualize traditional tennis statistics. He also conducts sports economics research for tennis, football, and baseball that have been published in Contemporary Economic Policy, Georgetown Center for Economic Research Working Papers, Football Outsiders, and Baseball Prospectus.

He is currently co-authoring a paper with Georgetown University economics professors that uses dynamic game theory to uncover suboptimal serving strategies in the ATP and WTA.

Tennisplayer Forum
Let's Talk About this Article!

Share Your Thoughts with our Subscribers and Authors!

Click Here