Tennisnerd put uit cijferschatkist ATP

Luca Brancher zal niet veel bekendheid oproepen bij tennisfans. Toch wordt hij op Twitter gevolgd door onder meer de ATP Tour zelf, NY Times-journalist Christopher Clarey en tennistrainer Sven Groeneveld. En duizenden anderen. Zijn tweets gaan over opmerkelijke tennisstatistieken die hij zelf produceert op basis van openbare databases (veelal van diezelfde ATP). Een van zijn laatste tweets gaat over het feit dat Carloz Alcaraz dit jaar in Melbourne met 17,69 jaar de jongste slamkwalificant is sinds Bernard Tomic (2010 met 17,66 jaar), dat was op Wimbledon. Zijn stats zijn vaak leuk en opmerkelijk. Hoog tijd voor een nadere kennismaking – we interviewden hem via de mail over zijn drijfveren, werkwijze en succesvolste tweets. De vragen en antwoorden zijn in het Engels.

Why and when did you start your twitteraccount? Your motivation?
‘In the past, for some Italian websites, I had written some statistical columns. when I stopped, for work reasons, I decided to use this old twitter account (created in 2009) that I had previously abandoned. I had tried before on a Facebook page, but it didn’t seem like the right way. About 2-3 years ago I started quite frequently, I saw that my tweets had a good following and I decided to continue. I have no particular motivation, in the sense that I don’t think this can give me work ambition, I do it because I love tennis and numbers. And sometimes, when I saw tennis matches, I would have love to know some curiosity that no one talked about, so I decided to answer these questions myself.’

What’s your goal with your account?
‘Hard one. I don’t really know. I love to do this kind of stuff, so I go on, without a real ambition or goal. I only wish to be always precise and to grow time by time, because this means I’m working well.’

How do you do your research? Which data/websites do you use?
’In the past years I have built a lot of tennis archives in Excel, updating everyday by downloading data from the official sites (atp, itf, etc.). So for my tweets I consult my files, but, for my safety, when I want to tweet something really important, that I assume a lof of people could read, I check another time on the site if I’m correct. Last week, when I tweet immediately about the nadal 800 weeks in a row in the top-10, I checked 2 times, also I’m pretty sure my databases, year by year, are pretty ok.’

And how do you find your inspiration for your tweets (the subjects)?
‘Every week I have my routine: I check the ranking and check the players commited that week. So I search, in my database if someone could break some record (general or personal) and I follow the various situations. Generally, all my tweets are scheduled at the beginning of the week, then I have to wait if players reach what I’m waiting or not. Without this schedule I cannot be so in time with my tweets.’

You’ve got famous followers – which one do you like the most?
‘I don’t know, because there are so many twitter accounts I admire and most of them follows me so I don’t want to talk about only one. I could only say the twitter comunity about tennis fans are really awesome.’

What’s the most successful tweet?
‘Another one hard question, because I’m not sure about. I remember that the most successful – the ones with about 300 likes and 200 retweets – are about a record for Nadal, Djokovic, Federer. I don’t know if about their ranking (weeks in the top-10 for Rafa, weeks in the top-100 for Roger) or other slam result for Nole, but a successful tweet is often about the big 3.’

What research result did surprise you?
‘Generally, the weeks in a row in the ranking, like the 1,000 for Roger in the atp top-100, or the 800 in the top-10 for Rafa. also when I discover that Martin Klizan won the first 6 atp finals he played I was surprised.’

Where are you from and were you always a tennisfan?
‘I’m from Italy, I live in Milan.This year I turn 40 and i’m a tennis fan since i was a child. the first match I remember on tv was in the 1988 edition of Roland Garros, Wilander-Zivojinovic.’

How much time does it cost?
‘’At the moment, not so much. as I said, sunday evening I check all the ranking records – it takes not so much time, 30 minutes. Then monday morning I set up all the possibile crucial situations of the week, watching the players commited in the atp or challengers tournaments. So the rest of week I have only to update the results. The hard part was in the previous years, when I build up the databases.’

Thanks Luca! And succes with your Twitter account (@lucabeck)!

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