ECE and CS students develop tennis stats tool
Nathaniel Lash, ECE ILLINOIS
- ECE sophomore Rod Serna and Computer Science sophomores Marcell Vazquez-Chanlatte and Eric Mills developed BenchStats, a program to analyze tennis players' performance.
- The goal of the program is to provide tennis coaches a direct way to keep track of their players' statistics.
- The team is currently investigating whether it could be developed as an app for tablets.
Illinois engineering students are developing a program that could change the way tennis is played—or at least coached. ECE sophomore Rod Serna teamed up with Computer Science sophomores Marcell Vazquez-Chanlatte and Eric Mills to create BenchStats, a new program that records and analyzes tennis players’ performance.
Serna said this software will be able to help coaches and players alike.
“It will help the coach by simplifying some of his tasks such as scheduling practices and help him develop his players by showing him their strengths and weaknesses,” Serna said. “Similarly for the player, allowing them the ability to see their stats will help show them what area of their game they need to work on.”
Serna said the goal of the program is to provide tennis coaches a direct way to keep track of their players’ statistics. Among these stats are first serve percentages, including aces and double faults, which players would be able to view as soon as they are updated.
The tool can help coaches streamline some of their tasks as well.
“It will also be managing software, allowing coaches to maintain their schedule online for their players to view,” Serna said.
BenchStats started while Serna worked with the Illinois tennis team. Serna, who played tennis in high school and already attended most of the team’s tennis matches, volunteered to help with statistics for the University’s team, first with only pen and paper, but soon evolving into a simple PHP script.
“This evolved into one of the coaches suggesting I might try and make this into a platform where coaches could calculate statistics on their own easily,” Serna said.
Later, he was joined in the project by Vazquez-Chanlatte and Mills, and they used Ruby on Rails, an open-source web development tool, and enhanced the project further by incorporating C++.
Serna said in addition to providing him with a great introduction to programming, the ECE Department has provided him with a great network of fellow classmates. The collaboration started in a physics discussion section, where Vazquez-Chanlatte, who has developed playbook simulators for sports before, jumped on the opportunity when Serna pitched his idea, and brought on Mills and his Web-designing experience.
Vazquez-Chanlatte hopes to develop the software for a mobile platform, and he is currently investigating whether it would be a viable option for the Android Tablet platform.
“I very much am interested in pushing it into the mobile space due to portability and the potential to eliminate the score card medium, allowing direct input into the cloud,” Vazquez-Chanlatte said.