Came Across Something Interesting 163.6 MPH Serve

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by AngeloDS, May 24, 2006.

  1. AngeloDS

    AngeloDS Hall of Fame

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    http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/TinaCheung.shtml

    I was basically looking for old service clips of Bill Tilden because I remember watching it from a video my old High School coach had. It really looked like a work of art -- beautiful, fluid and perfect striking.

    Not sure if that's true o_O, but probably and wow at those service speeds.
     
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  2. Tennis_Goodness

    Tennis_Goodness Semi-Pro

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    Are you serious?

    How old are these posters???
     
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  3. Bogie

    Bogie Hall of Fame

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    i dont think that the wooden racquets could even clock serves a fraction of those speeds
     
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  4. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    Tilden hitting 163mph?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH ROFL yeah riiiiiiight. Tilden was lucky to see 100 mph.
     
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  5. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    This is BS. It is not a legitimate site.
     
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  6. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    Proof that it is not legitimate:

    One of the first working models of a radar gun was produced in 1936.
    They did not have an accurate way of measuring serve speed in 1931.
     
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  7. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    Roddick hits it about as hard as is humanely possible. He gets all 190-something pounds of his body into it. And that's with modern racquets and strings. And he generally doesn't get over 140.

    So as big as Big Bill Tilden might have been...it ain't possible.
     
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  8. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    It depends.

    Tilden was known to have a humongous serve, actually. The way they measured it was just due to geometry and math. They didn't have radar guns back then. People do say that he had the "fastest" serve, but this can't be directly compared, obviously.

    As far as wood being able to produce the speed... it's definitely possible. Phillippousis did a study back a few years (maybe '97?) and he was serving just as fast as any other racquet, maybe 2-3 mph less. I think it definitely is POSSIBLE, just not probable. The standards we measure by may be different as well.
     
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  9. Tennis_Goodness

    Tennis_Goodness Semi-Pro

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    Well I don't know if it was even possible by Tilden.

    You can watch videos of Tilden playing and you can clearly see that the ball was not hit anywhere near that speed!

    It's fun to think about but no one came close to hitting to 160 or even to todays big servers!
     
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  10. Defcon

    Defcon Hall of Fame

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    I don't have a link or anything but I remember reading about a study they did to find out how much effect racket technology has on serve speed, and even with wood rackets, it was possible to get to the 120's.
     
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  11. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    There's no way you could calculate the speed without a radar gun. Even using trigonometry, you'd have to time it exactly from the point of racquet impact to when the ball hits the ground. There's no way you could time that exactly to get an accurate mph, using whatever clocks they had back then. Tilden's serve was 163.6 mph minus a pretty big standard deviation.
     
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  12. katastrof

    katastrof Rookie

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    I thought the fastest speed serve belonged to Roddick by 155 mph.

    The following quote is from wikipedia: "In the days of wooden racquets, Pancho Gonzales's 112-mph serve was the fastest ever recorded", from:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serve_(tennis)

    And: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sportacademy/hi/sa/tennis/features/newsid_2181000/2181658.stm

    I think there is a misunderstanding between sources in the link you posted regarding "fastest ball speed" and "fastest serve". Measurement is also an important factor, but I don't know where & how radar guns measure speed. Speed must drop quite a lot betwen impact point & ground, though.

    Confusing issue. Anyone to clear the mess?
     
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  13. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    And you have to take into account decelleration due to wind resistance...there's no way to calculate it without doppler.
     
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  14. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I thought they tried to arrive at a speed by measuring how far the ball moved in each frame of film. If it was shot at 24 frames per second, for example, you could get a rough estimate.
     
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  15. psp2

    psp2 Banned

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    yes.... but measured by a very friendly radar gun.
     
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  16. Midlife crisis

    Midlife crisis Hall of Fame

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    A ball going 163 MPH is traveling 240 feet/second, so each frame the ball travels 10 feet. However, the ball also loses about 1 MPH for every two feet it travels, so the ball slows 5 MPH during the one frame. This means if they actually measured the ball traveling 10 feet in the first frame, the speed the ball actually left Tilden's racquet would have been somewhere in the low 170's. Man, I'm going to have a get a 16 ounce wood racquet so I can serve like that!

    In all seriousness, I've also seen videos of Tilden serving and he is nowhere near even 120 MPH. I'd guess somewhere in the 105-110 range, possibly, if the videos were actually playing at true speed. What's more interesting is the difference between how hard he swung on a serve versus how hard he swung on a groundie. That's the most significant difference between the classic game and the modern game.
     
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  17. Midlife crisis

    Midlife crisis Hall of Fame

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    Nah, this is easy and they would have been able to do this back then. They had several ways of roughly but fairly accurately measuring the coefficient of drag of a tennis ball, and knowing that, the surface area of the ball, and the mass of the ball, it's a simple second year college mathematical problem (maybe even a first year college math problem).
     
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  18. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Anyone with a radar gun and wooden racquet can test the likelihood of this posting being accurate. My fastest serve that went in was measured at the net at 93 mph, using a P.S. 6.0 85 sq. in. racquet. However, I have measured my serve with my Jack Kramer Wilson racquet leaded up to about 16 oz. The best serve I've hit with the woodie is 78 mph. I served lights out in college, but I'm probably serving 90% of what I did then because of racquet and string technology. I've done this test with all my racquets, btw and the P.S. 6.0 85 is the best serving stick. (please, no flames)

    In sum, I think the original post is absurd. I've seen film of Tilden serve and he didn't serve nearly as fast as Pancho. He also didn't move like Pancho....:)

    -Robert
     
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  19. JMaj

    JMaj New User

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    From tennisserver.com

    "A footnote to the early tour was the work of one Dr. J.F. Strawinski. The Philadelphian devised an apparatus to time the ball's travel from service impact to opponent's service line, a distance of sixty feet. Measurements were taken during the January 10 (1935) matches in Convention Hall, and each player's ten fastest serves were averaged. Bill's score was 128.4 mph, Vines's was 130.2 mph, Stoefen's 131.4, and Lott's 108.0. Tilden's serve had been clocked faster several years before, and Bill now complained that the old and new measurements should not be compared, as he now seldom used full velocity. Also, he had not been aware when the new measurements were being taken."
     
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  20. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    There is another known variable. Ball quality, variability, and construction. I don't have the Idiot's Guide to Tennis Balls handy, but from my recollection ball variability (bounce, weight, etc.) was greater in the 1950's when I started. I can remember often finding one ball failing quickly out of a can of three, or one wearing more quickly than the others. Needless to say, manufacturing techniques have improved significantly. (But we aren't there yet as I had a bad ball in a can at this a.m.'s doubles match.)

    -Robert
     
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  21. a guy

    a guy Banned

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    I thought serve speeds were measured as soon as the ball leaves the racket.. so how could they possibly clock a speed back then without a radar gun?
     
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  22. Midlife crisis

    Midlife crisis Hall of Fame

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    That's likely because the 16 ounce racket is too fast for you to swing effectively.

    For each of us, there is an individual weight/swing velocity curve that is based on neuromuscular coordination, muscle fiber type, technique, and a host of other factors. This also means there is a racquet which allows us to maybe not generate the most racquet head speed, but where the combination of racquet head speed X coefficient of restitution is greatest. For most well conditioned, male tennis players, this is likely in the 12-13 ounce range. Above that and you lose too much racquet head speed for the additional rebound speed to make up, and below that, you run into problems of muscle contraction velocity being insufficiently high to compensate for the loss of ball rebound speed.
     
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  23. chess9

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    As Midlife Crisis noted earlier, once you know the distance, time, weight of ball, effect of gravity, and aero coefficient, it's a "simple" differential equation. :)

    Anyway, times these days are at the racquet head or just in front at contact. WHERE the velocities quoted occurred is problematic. Average velocities? Who knows?

    -Robert
     
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  24. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    It's ok, you can tell me I'm a testosterone deprived dwarf, with the upper body strength of a female Chinese ping pong player. Go ahead, be mean. :) LOL. But, yes, you are right.

    -Robert
     
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  25. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Midlife Crisis:

    BTW, you did mean "heavy" rather than fast above?

    -Robert
     
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  26. LowProfile

    LowProfile Professional

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    Perhaps they meant 163.3 kph.

    Either way, that serve was measured in a very dubious fashion and reliable radar guns able to track serves going over 100 mph were definitely not available at least before the 40s.

    Those wooden racquets certainly delivered heavy serves but were they as fast as Roddick's? I highly doubt it.
     
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  27. dirtballer

    dirtballer Professional

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    Around 1920 they tried to determine how fast Walter Johnson was throwing a baseball. They had a motorcycle ride by Johnson at 90 MPH as he was releasing a pitch. The ball hit the catchers mitt just before the motorcycle passed the catcher so they determined that Johnson was throwing in excess of 90 MPH. Maybe they tried to do something similar with Tilden. In any event, I'm sure Tilden's number is greatly inflated - with a wood racket, maybe 125. By the way, I've seen old film of Tilden and Don Budge and I thought Budge had much the superior game.
     
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