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UNF Sports Data Analytics lab working with UNF tennis team, PGA Tour for research

Zach Yearwood, Managing Editor

Analytics has taken the world of sports by storm over the last two decades. UNF’s Sports Data Analytics (SDA) Lab is working to join the trend by partnering with SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT) Jacksonville to conduct data analysis of the school’s tennis team in the spring.

SMT has invested in refurbishing the tennis courts by the Fountains Residence Hall. The once decrepit, grayish-green courts have been transformed into vibrant, blue regulation courts.

What the tennis courts by the Fountains looked like before renovations (Photo by John Watson).
What the Fountains tennis courts look like now (Photo by John Watson).

SMT plans to install new technology to track thousands (if not millions) of data points which will help the players understand the game at a deeper level. Among the technology is a mobile computer room to conduct on-site analysis. The new software and data tools used here will eventually roll out to major tournaments such as Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, according to a UNF press release.

Dr. Wanyong Choi is an assistant professor in UNF’s sport management program and was appointed as the director of the SDA lab when it was created at the beginning of the fall semester. He and Dr. Tae Ho Kim – who also has experience in sport business data analytics – will oversee the projects the lab works on in the spring.

Analytics is the systematic analysis of raw data and statistics. In the case of sports, this data gives teams and players the information they need to have the best chances of success. 

With rapidly improving technology, it is now easier than ever to track every minute detail in a sporting event. Analytics is useful because it compiles these details and allows athletes and coaches to implement strategies that will put them in the best mathematical situations to win – whether it be the angle at which a golfer holds her club or determining what situations a football coach should go for it on fourth down.

“We can input these players’ performance in the system and we can find specific patterns or habits,” Choi said when explaining how analytics could help a tennis player. “For example, we can find various and specific features or patterns of players by analyzing every play. Finally, we can utilize this information to improve their skill or strategies.”

Choi says the lab will recruit four or five students to help with the collection of data. This experience will prove valuable for sport management students as roughly six out of every 10 jobs in sports today is in analytics, according to the professor. 

The new technology will perform on-court analytics, but the lab is also planning on conducting business analytics, working with the PGA Tour, LPGA, the Jacksonville Jaguars, ATP, etc.

Choi is also working as a director of the Executive in Residence (EIR) program.

“We are working with the senior vice president and the vice president of the PGA Tour,” he said. “We have the Players Championship in March. In that opportunity, we are going to [do] some market research of the golf industry.”

When working in South Korea, Dr. Choi helped establish broadcast analytics for multiple sports including soccer, tennis and Taekwondo. He also said that as much as he loves working on analytics, he helped create the lab to give students the experience that companies are looking for outside of the classroom in order to help students be as successful as possible after graduation.

“One of the main focuses is education,” he said. “All these activities are helpful for the students and their future jobs.”

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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