ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA - As sports leagues around the globe work to return to live competition in the era of COVID-19, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced it has teamed up with Qualtrics, an SAP company, to understand how their players felt about returning to play and what actions they needed to take to resume the season safely. By leveraging Qualtrics technology, WTA stakeholders were able to understand and subsequently act on player and staff feedback.
“In a time when the thoughts, opinions and trust of each stakeholder are paramount, SAP and Qualtrics have given the WTA a new pathway to gather critical data from our players and staff so we can optimize our Tour operations,” said WTA President Micky Lawler.
“With smartphones and social media today, it’s never been easier to document feedback. The technology of Qualtrics gives us the opportunity to harness responsiveness, identify key insights, and apply them decisively.”
With questionnaires distributed to players and staff, the WTA was able to use the feedback and data as part of its Return to Play strategy. Specifically, recent feedback from WTA athletes revealed what the season’s return has meant to them, changes they have experienced due to COVID-19, and how they’ve been able to adapt.
When asked which motivating factors prompted WTA athletes back to the court following a five-month hiatus, 68% of players stated that love of the game was one of their top two motives. Other factors for consideration included financial, ranking, and legacy. Since competing in a new setting with little to no fans, players also described atmosphere, energy, and cheering as the elements they missed most about not having crowds on site.
Not only has the competitive environment changed for players during competition, but so has their approach in practice. Players also shed light on their match preparation citing fitness and mental game as the two most popular areas in which their training routine has changed since COVID-19.
While observing new health and safety protocols off the court, players have found themselves with extended free time in between matches. As a result, 51% of players revealed they’ve spent most of their down time either learning a new skill or taking educational classes— activities now seamlessly available on WTA University, an online platform powered by SAP Litmos that provides players with live and on-demand access to educational courses.
As the tennis season continues in 2020 and beyond, experiential data gathered through SAP and Qualtrics will comprehensively support the WTA’s growth and modernization across the sport. Through its longstanding global partnership which began with “Tennis Analytics for coaches” in 2015, the WTA and SAP continue to collaborate on creating innovative technology solutions during a year when virtual communication and real-time data are even more valuable.