The new statistic in women’s tennis made its debut at the Acura Classic tournament, and it’s about determining how hard a player hits the ball.
The "power index" takes into account player's fastest groundstroke (forehand or backhand), first serve, second serve, first-serve return, second-serve return and smash or volley. It is measured by ball-tracking technology from Hawk-Eye Innovations company.
"We’re excited about the introduction of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Power Index and think it’s another great way to recognize the extraordinary talent, athleticism and sheer power of our top players," said Stacy Allaster, President of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
Like every novelty, "power index" has supporters and critics. In this case, I understand both sides, but the opinion I find worth reading is one of Richard Vach from Tennis X:
"I’m not excited about it — just the opposite. I’d rather we celebrate all-around players, not just those who can only hit topspin forehands and backhands as hard as they can, because those are the only shots in their arsenal. The Power Index debuted in San Diego last week where the top ball-bludgeoner was Venus Williams, who didn’t win the event. I’m all for new innovations, but this is like the NFL recognizing which quarterback throws the hardest instead of who completes the most passes. Who cares?"
There is some true to Richard’s point of view, but I can’t fully agree. In my opinion, the "power index" won’t hurt tennis; it’s just an interesting new statistic. And by the way, consider Richard's statement "the top ball-bludgeoner was Venus Williams, who didn’t win the event" – can’t this be applied to all the statistics? Look, Michaella Krajicek was the player with most aces at Wimbledon 2007, and she didn’t win the event, but that doesn’t mean that the stat is useless.
I agree, however, that we should celebrate "all-around players", but I don’t think that "power index" will get in the way.