By Rod Coffee | August 1, 2014
The Cool Seat made its tennis tournament debut at the Citi Open this week. Can it help players handle extreme summer temperatures?
Washington, D.C. — It’s 80-plus degrees under the hot sun at the Citi Open, but players and umpires performing in the summertime temperatures are surprisingly cool thanks to a new technology being used by the WTA and ATP for the very first time.
The X-Temp Cool Seat, designed by Northeast Exotherm LLC, is described as a cooling technology company in the sports medicine heat safety realm, according to X-Temp officials attending the Washington D.C. tournament this week. Players sit on the cooling pads during changeovers.
Working up a sweat, running from court to court, making sure the Cool Seat applications were in place, X-Temp VP of Sales Tony Morocco explained the concept behind the innovation.
“We developed a rechargeable liquid where we’re able to define temperatures and hold temperatures constant,” Morocco said. “We were working with some of the medical services team, looking at some of the issues that heat causes players and chair umpires. We wanted to be able to bring this technology to the court to be able to help players get an edge.”
X-Temp, founded one year ago in Waukesha, Wisconsin, began discussions for using the cool seats at tennis venues last January during the incredibly hot Australian Open. Officials at the Citi Open requested them for this year’s event. Morocco said the seats are pre-set for a temperature that is not too cold, but comfortable.
“So the players are sitting on a temperature of 55 degrees,” Morocco said. “We preset our liquid, so it will never go above or below that temperature. They’re sitting on a cool surface that won’t burn them. The umpires are sitting on a Cool Seat set at 80 degrees. Now, that may seem warm, but it’s 18-degrees below your body temperature. It allows them to have comfort cooling for about 2.5 hours.”
WTA Senior VP of Sports Science Medicine and Transitions Kathleen Stroia was involved in the discussions to debut the cold seat at the Citi Open.
“I was very impressed with the technology,” Stroia said. “It’s an innovative use of a material that maintains its temperature through a match and provides a constant cooling mechanism for players and umpires. It was a really exciting step forward because we’re always looking to bring the latest innovations and advancements in the field to the sport of tennis.”
The Cool Seat can be recharged in a freezer, refrigerator or by placing it on ice. Once it returns to its pre-set temperature, it’s ready to use. The application can also be molded in to nearly any shape and touts portability as one of its many advantages.
X-Temp already has an agreement with Major League Baseball for all 74 of its umpires to use the technology in the form of a vest. Vice President of Sales, Matt Adler, said the X-Temp is providing an array of applications to fit a variety of needs.
“Cool seats are just one of the products we make,” Adler said. “We make an emergency kit for heat illness. We make a neck rap, we make therapy products for your knees shoulders and back. The key is the rechargeable technology. We can pretty much make it into any shape or design that’s requested, but the liquid is what is unique about the technology. We can set the temperature and hold that temperature constant throughout its frozen state or change cycle.”
During the Citi Open players and umpires are providing feedback regarding the Cool Seat in the form of surveys and questionnaires. So far it appears to be a hit with the potential to expand to the stands.
“We look to eventually offer the product to the fans," Stroia said. “The players like it, and they feel it’s effective. As of today, a few players arrived to the courts asking for it.”