SBD/June 5, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

New Babolat Tennis Racket Records Shot Data Through Handle Sensors

Handle sensors will send data such as ball spin and shot power to a computer
Tennis equipment company Babolat is “working on another tennis novelty: a racket that records shot data,” according to Rossingh & Connan of BLOOMBERG NEWS. CEO Eric Babolat said that the racket is “aimed at club players and professionals and will go on sale next year.” Sensors in the handle will “be able send data such as ball spin and shot power to a computer.” Babolat said that the company will post a 10% percent gain in revenue to $169M by the end of its fiscal year in June. He added that it is “targeting an increase in sales" of between 12-14% over the next three years. Babolat endorsers Rafael Nadal and Li Na recently tested the Play & Connect racket at Roland Garros. Babolat noted, “Li Na said when she had tested it ‘this is really interesting for me, but I don’t want the other players to see my data’” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Tom Perrotta wrote the “problem” for racket manufacturers today is that tennis rackets “are too good.” Perrotta: “Unless you have a John McEnroe-size temper, a racket can last 10, 20, 30 years, maybe more.” Tennis Industry Association data showed that last year was “a woeful one for companies that sell tennis rackets: 10% fewer rackets were sold than the year before and revenue dropped 8%.” But sales are “up so far this year,” as racket manufacturers “continue to refine their products, tweak them and add bits of technology.” Babolat said, "In five, 10, 20 years, tennis without data will not be possible. That's how convinced we are of players' interest in something more than the score." But Perrotta wrote there are “reasons to be skeptical” of the new data technology. Wilson Rackets Business Dir Cory Springer said, "We're curious to see it. But for us, it's about the practical day-to-day use of the technology. Is it going to attract a niche, or is it something that players of all skill types will use?" (WSJ.com, 6/2).
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