The Science of Tennis

by Kathryn on September 2, 2012

My most recent feature article in Odyssey magazine is called “Engineering the Perfect Game,” in the July/August issue covering the science of the Olympics.

I’ve never been a very sporty person, and at one point in my life if you asked me what I thought about the Boston Celtics’ chances, I’d have said, “Umm, what sport was that again?” Before I wrote this article, I probably could have listed all I know about tennis on the back of a napkin with room to spare. Racquets. Two people hitting a yellow ball back and forth over a net. White clothing. The Williams sisters.

The reason I love writing for Odyssey magazine is I get to learn so much about things I never would have studied on my own. After writing this article, I knew a lot more about tennis, including these interesting facts:

1. The spaghetti string racquet was a clever invention that used two sets of parallel strings to catapult a tennis ball. These racquets had to be outlawed.

2. Tennis racquet strings used to be made from cow intestines… and some still are!

3. There’s a special test chamber where the International Tennis Federation makes sure tennis balls are all legal for play.

While researching this article, I had the pleasure to speak with Simon Choppin of the Centre for Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University in England. He was lucky enough to get to volunteer at the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nives September 6, 2013 at 10:01 am

Dear Kathryn,

I saw your article in Odyssey magazine named “Engineering the Perfect Game”. I’m in the organazing committee of ”International tennis tournament for engineers”. Our organazing committee is very young and we stared with tournament on 2012. We are developing this project and trying very hard. When I saw your article “Engineering the Perfect Game” I coludn’t imagine better slogan for our tournament and I had to contact you to ask you if we colud use this phrase as our slogan. You can see information about tournament on the web site

I hope that you”ll understand how can this improve our tournament and I’m hoping for your positively reply.

Best regards,
Nives Cota


Danny Dang May 3, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Hi Kathryn,
Can I get to read your article “Engineering the Perfect Game” again?
Do you have it on a website somewhere?


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