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Umpire chairs designed by interdisciplinary team at CWRU will be used at Tennis in the Land event

tennis chairs.jpg
Posted at 12:33 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 12:33:31-04

CLEVELAND — Some of the best female tennis players in the world are coming to Cleveland and students at Case Western Reserve University are making a front-row seat at the inaugural 2021 Tennis in the Land event.

Case Western Reserve's involvement started when Kyle Ross, the event’s tournament director, approached Todd Wojtkowski, the university’s head coach for men’s tennis, about creating custom umpire chairs.

The collaboration began immediately between Case Western Reserve’s "Sears think[box]" students, staff and Thomas Vinci, an industrial design student at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

The Sears think[box], the largest open-access innovation center and maker space in the country, located on campus, was the space where the umpire chairs came to life.

“The enthusiasm from across the Case Western Reserve community made this project possible, with Men’s Tennis Coach Todd Wojtkowski getting the project started and Sears think[box]’s Jason Bradshaw seeing it through,” said Daniel Lacks, associate dean of academics for the school. “Todd and Jason saw that this wide-ranging collaboration could lead to a whole that is much greater than the sum of the parts.”

The design of the umpire chair targeted concerns voiced by a tennis umpire. It aimed to address potential pain points such as making it easier to climb, adding storage and allowing umpire to sit back between matches.


“I utilized four floors [of think[box]] to make this,” said Vinci. “I was designing on the second floor and prototyping on the third floor. On the fourth floor, I started building it and eventually constructed the final version on the fifth floor.”

The chairs were built first using virtual reality before Vinci created the physical pieces.

Misha Villanueva, the fabrication floor manager at the think[box] helped Vinci turn the concept into a reality by using small models to create full-scale, manufactured products.

The umpire chairs will be used during the internationally televised Tennis in the Land event at Jacob Pavilion at Nautical in the Flats West Bank from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28.

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