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Youth Tennis Player Tests the Effects of Tennis Ball Spin on Bounce on MTVAC Tennis Courts

Tennis ball spin and bounce are huge influencers in the game. But what effect does one have on the other? MTVAC youth tennis player Mike Oelschlager and his science partner Alex Echeverri tested it out for their science fair project!

The Science Behind the Tennis Ball Spin

The two sophomores of West Potomac High School took to the MTVAC tennis courts to test out their theories. For their “Effect of Spin on the Bounce of a Tennis Ball” project they used the club’s brand new ball machine and took measurements of the first bounce and the second bounce at different rpms with topspin and backspin, which allowed them to calculate the effects of spin. After chasing and measuring balls all over the courts, the team determined that the greater rpm for topspin allowed the ball to bounce significantly higher, faster, and farther, as opposed to the backspin ball, which in all trials bounced shorter and slower.

Mike and Alex’s out-of-the-lab curiosity and tennis ball experiment scored them third place in the Physics category of the Fairfax County Regional Science Fair, held at Robinson High School.

“I was particularly proud of how Mike and Alex executed the experiment with deliberate precision. MTVAC was very supportive during the process, allowing them to store their large equipment behind the courts.”
-Deb Oelschlager, Mike’s mom and MTVAC member

tennis ball spin experiment wins third place

Mike Oelschlager and Alex Echeverri Win Third Place!

It All Started on the MTVAC Tennis Courts

The question of tennis ball spin and bounce wasn’t completely random for Mike. He’s been a youth tennis player since he was about eight years old. Over the years he’s taken lessons from MTAVC tennis pros Patrick Escalambre, Tim Bainton and Patrick Breuer. He also complemented the lessons with a High Performance Tennis clinic led by Blue Chip founder Tim Bainton. Mike and his mom Deb really credit the MTVAC tennis programs with bringing his game up. He now plays on the West Potomac High School varsity tennis team. He and his partner Jack Prater just took second place in the district tournament!

Interestingly enough, Deb herself originally joined MTVAC because of Mike. Also a tennis player, she wanted the social aspect of playing and meeting people at a family-friendly gym, and the free childcare benefit of joining the club sealed the deal for her. She has been an MTVAC member since sophomore son Mike was a baby!

It’s amazing to see how recreational interests can drive classroom and professional interests. The high school tennis players took a question they had wondered about while playing tennis and looked to science for an explanation. Congratulations to Mike and Alex for a tennis ball experiment well-played!

What can you learn from the MTAVC tennis courts? Check out our upcoming tennis programs and let your imagination run wild!

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