Ryan or Roddick?

Benjamin EdwardsCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2008

I received a question from a reader:

Is it harder to hit a single off a 98mph fastball or return a 140mph serve back over the net in tennis? I say tennis."


       Well, I think there are three or four essential elements to this question.

One, you are asking a person to not only hit the ball, but to hit the ball into fair territory and arrive safely on base in one instance, and only to return the tennis ball over the net in the other (I’m assuming you mean in-bounds here also).

Secondly, you are hitting the ball with a much larger surface area when playing tennis.

On the other hand, most baseball players have seen a 98 mph fastball many times in their careers, whereas very, very few tennis players can serve at 140 mph.

Finally, I think the most important question is:

What percentage of the time can a tennis player hit the ball at least once back over the net when it is served at 140 mph?

If the opponent could return even 50% of the serves, he would have a higher average than any baseball player could hope to have against a consistent 98 mph pitcher. Ty Cobb is the best baseball has to offer as far as averages and he could only hit safely 36% of the time.

Andy Roddick holds the record for fastest clocked serve at 155 mph. The fastest pitch in history was 104.8 mph by Joel Zumaya in 2006. Here is what a Roddick serve looks like.


Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

To read more from Benjamin Edwards, please visit: Studyofsports.com