ACTIVITY INFORMATION

Recommended age group: 11–14
Time required: one 45–60 min session
Equipment: The longest match worksheet.

ACTIVITY IDEA

  1. Students are introduced to the longest tennis match in history: Isner vs Mahut from Wimbledon (men's singles) in 2010. The game lasted 11 hours 5 minutes, in which the final set alone was longer than any previous recorded match, finishing 70-68. If possible, they should be shown a brief video clip of the match (available on the BBC website by searching for 'BBC video Isner Mahut').
  2. Students should be taken through the match scores so they understand them:
    • The score was 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 (Isner won).
    • Explain the sets: matches are best of five, Isner won the first 6-4, lost the second 3-6 and so on. Explain the tie-break and how the final fifth set must be won by two clear games. Both players had very strong serves so were difficult to break.
  3. Explain that students are going to tackle some problems around the match stats, which are presented on the worksheet. Question groups can be divided by ability as required.
  4. Once finished, confident students could explain their answers and calculations for some questions on the board. Ask if there are other ways to solve the problem.
  5. Discuss why statistics in sport are important with reference to performance analysis, records and sports betting.

EXTENSION

  • Ask students to present some of the statistics graphically.
  • Ask students to find the longest Olympic and Paralympic tennis matches (which are played to best of three rather than five sets) and see how they compare in terms of numbers. Alternatively, students could research how coaches and players analyse players' and opponents' weaknesses and strengths when formulating a game plan.

MAKE IT ACTIVE

  • Students can be challenged to see how many shots they can keep a rally going when they next play tennis.