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Volume 20 No. 42
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Tennis VIPs invest in courtside performance tech

A group of tennis luminaries and executives has invested $3.5 million in Israeli-based startup tech firm PlaySight Interactive, which has developed a video-based analytics system for the recreational market.

New investors in PlaySight include world No. 2 men’s player Novak Djovokic, hall of famer and World TeamTennis co-founder Billie Jean King, Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein, performance coach James Loehr, former ProServ President Ray Benton, Majestic Ventures managing general partner James Kern, and several other executives.

The firm’s core SmartCourt product involves a video-based analytics system that measures player performances across a number of categories and then allows players to access the data themselves through a self-serve, courtside digital kiosk.

Like many other player- and ball-tracking systems, PlaySight is based in part on military training technology. Rather than focus on the elite, professional sports market, however, PlaySight is targeting amateur and coaching segments where there are far more potential clients.

A PlaySight SmartCourt system involving cameras, kiosks, software and other equipment carries a list cost of about $10,000.

“We see huge opportunity in the recreational market,” said Chen Shachar, PlaySight chief executive and co-founder. “There are a lot of analytics systems out there, but we think we have a key differentiator in our self-serve system that gives real-time feedback and doesn’t require additional technicians or personnel to operate.”

The latest infusion of capital is a Series B venture capital round for the company, and carries a goal of landing more than 200 additional system installations around the world.

PlaySight technology is installed at nearly three dozen facilities, including Roland Garros in Paris, home of the French Tennis Federation, and the Laurense Tennis Academy in Holland.

PlaySight is also looking to expand its technology into other sports, also carrying a focus of targeting amateur and instructional levels of play.

“The product is incredible. What we’re looking to do now is turn this into a major business,” said Kern, who will now serve on the company’s board of directors and was originally turned on to the product through his teenage son.