Apple products used often by women’s tennis

By Jerry Burnes

With a slide and a tap of his finger, Ryun Ferrell, NIU women’s tennis coach, can track his players’ matches, give them a scouting report or set up an entire tournament.

At the same time, associate athletic trainer Jeff Sisson can download an MRI and show a student-athlete his or her injury through digital depiction, rather than just simply pointing at the injured body part through the skin.

The advancement of the digital age has stretched far beyond what the mind ever imagined years ago. The influx of tablet technology, like Apple’s iPad, has made its way into athletics, and Ferrell and Sisson were the first to adopt the technology at NIU.

For athletics, the technology comes down to having everything at their fingertips.

“It’s faster than going through three, four, five different books,” Sisson said, referring to diagnosing player injuries. “Even if I’m not exactly right, I can do a web search and come up with an answer in terms they can understand.”

Immediacy is important to Ferrell as well. Through the iPad, iPod and iPhone, he is able to record his players’ matches and upload them straight to a private channel on YouTube. From there the players can watch themselves and report back to Ferrell for coaching advice and questions.

There are also apps available to the coach to keep match-by-match statistics for each player. The app not only records and delivers Ferrell stats for each match, but allows him to e-mail players their stats and upload them to a website straight from the device.

“That has been very productive; I’ve enjoyed that a lot,” the fifth year head coach said. “Essentially, I can chart where the serve goes, whether it was in our out, if they hit the ball in the net and what not. Then it will automatically give me statistical data on how they do.”

Ferrell has taken the tablet technology a step further as well. With a sport information director not traveling regularly with the women’s tennis team, the coach would have to file the matches’ outcomes at the hotel that night. Those results, at times, wouldn’t get back to sports information director Zach Peters until after midnight.

Through instructional YouTube videos, Ferrell is trying to quicken that process by developing his own application for the Apple devices. The app allows the head coach to record the results of a given match or tournament and email it directly to Peters for his recap. He also added a direct link to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association website.

With no computer background for Ferrell, the application isn’t a flashy symbol of technology, but is effective for the tennis team’s many uses. For Sisson and athletic trainers, the technological advances have made tablet and iPad technologies is a must-have in their profession.

“The athletic department is very progressive, and to have that information ready immediately is huge,” Sisson said. “Its very useful, extremely useful. I’d love to be able to convince the department to put on in all the athletic trainers’ hands.”