Recommended age group: 11–14 (KS3)
Time required: one 45–60 min session
Equipment: The Longest Match worksheet.


In this activity, students will solve number problems and reinforce calculation strategies based on numbers generated by the world's longest tennis match.

Students will be able to:  

  • to interpret and present discrete and continuous data using appropriate graphical methods
  • to solve comparison, sum and difference problems using information presented in bar charts, pictograms, tables and other graphs.


  1. Introduce the students to the longest tennis match in history: Isner vs Mahut from Wimbledon (men's singles) in 2010. The game lasted 11 hours 5 minutes! The final set alone was longer than any previous recorded match, finishing 70-68. Watch this 1 minute video to introduce the match: 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. Present the worksheet: they will tackle some problems around the match stats, which are presented on the worksheet. Question groups can be divided by ability as required.
  4. Discuss and review: ask the confident students to 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 other elements of the sports industry (e.g. sports betting).


  • 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.


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