Babolat releasing Nadal French Open racket data

Using Babolat’s Play technology, the French racket maker is now publicizing Rafa Nadal’s French Open data. Check it out via my Sports Illustrated post here.

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Players using in-play data tracking racket during French Open

Babolat debuted the first-ever racket that tracks in-match data. And now players are using the racket during the French Open. Take a look at my Sports Illustrated post on the topic here.

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My Top Stories of 2013 (5-9)

Part two of my Top 13 of 2013 continues today with 5-9. For a look back at 10-13, click here. Check back on Dec. 31 for stories 1-4.

9. Okay, so I’m cheating a bit as I start the single-digit entries on the list. I’m instead including an entire four-part package, not just one story. My editor at Sports Illustrated asked me for technology stories from four different sports—NBA, NFL, MLB and Winter Olympics—to run alongside video. It was a fun package to work on, spanned multiple months and allowed me to discuss athlete tracking, high-end shoe construction, digital scouting and the art of manufacturing snow.

8. Tracking data has turned into key factor across a variety of sports, but there had been no way to do so in tennis until Babolat unveiled the world’s first connected tennis racket. I was in Boulder, Colo., to test out the racket for the first time in public for Popular Mechanics, an interesting foray into tennis movements and data tracking. For the story, click here.

7. Survivor has proven one of the most popular and longest-lasting reality TV shows ever and host—and now producer—Jeff Probst has been there from the start. I chatted with him for a TIME article discussing the most intriguing power plays in the show’s history. And he didn’t disappoint with his passion and knowledge of the game.

6. 2013 was an interesting year for bridges, the most intriguing the new Bay Bridge opening. I explored the art of cable-stay and suspension bridges early in the year for Popular Mechanics and then took closer examination at the Bay Bridge specifically for PopMech articles both online and in print.

5. Attending the Champion’s League Final in Wembley Stadium was a treat all its own, but then exploring the stadium and discussing the architecture with Lord (yeah, he’s been knighted) Norman Foster was an additional pleasure. I was able to write about how Foster attempted to create a new legacy for the famed London stadium in a Sports Illustrated article.

Testing Out the World’s First-Ever Connected Tennis Racquet

It can be a bit intimidating to start hitting tennis balls in the same room as Eric Babolat and much of the brain-trust of French-based Babolat. They hang with Nadal, after all. But that isn’t nearly as intimidating as the idea that every stroke I’m hitting wasn’t only being watched by some great tennis manufacturing minds, but being recorded by the world’s first-ever connected tennis racquet. In Boulder on Nov. 6 I was able to test out the Babolat Play, swinging wildly to try and record my data, which I then dissected and—maybe unwittingly—showed to everyone in some screen grabs for my Popular Mechanics story (see below). To learn all about the tech behind the Babolat Play, check out my article here.

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