Childhood friends develop, market tennis iPhone app

Chip Hudson knows he’ll never be Roger Federer, six-time Wimbledon champion. Eric Deines knows he’ll never be Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and father of the Apple iPhone.

But that didn’t stop the childhood friends from combining their shared love of computer programming with Hudson’s passion for tennis to make a program for the Apple iPhone they hope will become a tool for tennis enthusiasts, coaches and trainers.

The app, “My Tennis Stats”, allows iPhone users to keep statistics of matches as they’re playing and store data about past matches.

The program can be downloaded for $9.99 from the iPhone App Store.

Deines and Hudson, both 31 and Broomfield natives, have been friends since they met at Kohl Elementary and have been programming since their days at Broomfield High School.

They started working on the application in December, finding time for it on weekends and afternoons. They both have day jobs as computer programmers and families: Hudson works for aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Hudson, and has a son and another child on the way; Deines works for Zoll Data Systems, which makes programs used in the medical industry, and has a son and a daughter.

Hudson and Deines hope their program makes money, but it also was a labor of love that gave them a chance to learn new programming skills, as neither had worked with Apple products before.

“We figured it would be a good resume booster,” Deines said.

The result looks good.

With a tap of the phone’s touch screen, “My Tennis Stats” keeps track of details such as how many aces a player serves, how many unforced errors he makes or whether he wins a point on a forehand or backhand. It also has the crisp graphics iPhone users have come to expect.

The target user is a coach or trainer, who would use it from the sidelines. Hudson also wants to tap the parents of young tennis players as a market. He acknowledges the program is probably too complex for a player to use during a match.

Whether the pair have the chops as salesmen to make it a smash with the tennis community remains to be seen. The program was released to the public June 28. In the first week it had sold 20 copies.

But Hudson is pushing the program hard and is passionate about the product and the sport. He started competing in tennis tournaments when he was 11, and continues to play in United States Tennis Association leagues. He travels around the country to compete in tournaments.

“I’m pretty plugged into the tennis community in Colorado,” Hudson said. “Most of them have been pretty excited (about the app). They want to get their hands on it.”

Hudson also has hawked “My Tennis Stats” on “In the Tennis Zone,” a local radio show on AM 1510, a sports talk station.

Deines is okay with letting Hudson take the lead in promoting the app. If Hudson is the duo’s Steve Jobs, who pushes Apple products with evangelical zeal, Deines is more like Steve Wozniak, who programmed and built Apple’s first computers in the 1970s but left the spotlight to his partner.

Plus, Deines isn’t really a tennis guy anyway. His sport is soccer.

Writing the program has taught him a lot about the game, but he still knows his limits.

“I wouldn’t play this guy,” Deines joked when he compared his skills to Hudson.

Deines and Hudson already are thinking of future applications. Baseball, with its abundance of stats and number-obsessed fans, might be their next project, Hudson said.

— By Michael Davidson of the Broomfield (Colo.) Enterprise

Join the conversation. We like knowing what you think.