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Challenge!


"Challenge!"


Despite many of us wishing we could shout that word in a Sunday morning Surrey league fixture, in reality we can't. Well you can if you like but nothing more will happen then a few funny looks from your opposition! Instead, that luxury is gifted only to players competing on courts which are armed with Hawk-Eye technology.


I know what you might be thinking... and no...Hawk-Eye has nothing to do with Rufus the Hawk!


Hawk-Eye is built from a network of 10 cameras around the court that capture 60 high-resolution images per second. At least five cameras cover every bounce of the ball. A centralised computer system rapidly processes the images, triangulates the position of the ball and calculates a flight path (which leads to the brilliant chorus of rhythmic crowd clapping!).

Hawk-Eye collects data for every shot taken in the match, not just the close calls so it is a hugely useful tool for pundits and commentators during the game as they work out the average contact point on Serena's kick serve!


The process of developing Hawk-Eye began in 1999 at Roke Manor Research Ltd. RMR were a company with over thirty years of vision processing expertise. Led by British computer expert Dr. Paul Hawkins and funded by The Television Corporation, ''Hawk-Eye'' began to take shape!


After it was first tested in 2004, the system was implemented by Wimbledon on Centre and Court 1 in 2007. It is now used across Centre Court plus courts 1,2,3,12 and 18. As it stands players on courts without the technology, must rely solely on the umpires and officials calls, which can lead to some rather sticky moments out on court!


With so much trust placed in the technology, how accurate actually is it?


Michael Potts for the Radio Times explains: "The Hawk-Eye system has a 2.2mm margin of error, with some research claiming the system can be as much as 10mm off. Why? The ball may move too quickly to be properly captured on camera as all cameras have a finite frame-speed. As one University of Cardiff paper says, “if the frame-speed is, say, 100 frames per second, and the ball is moving at about 100 mph it will travel about 1.5 feet between frames”.

Michael went on to say: "This margin of error can cause controversy during big points. During the 2007 Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, a ball that appeared to be out was called in by 1mm."


It goes without saying that the technology will always have its doubters, be it fans, umpires or even players themselves. Regardless, what cannot be denied is the technology is here to stay and will no doubt be an increasingly prominent feature of the game for years to come!


...Perhaps one day it actually can be used on a Sunday Surrey Wilson league fixture!?


Surrey Tennis.


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