Everyone talks about serve speeds, points won, shot placement, etc., during the opening of a Grand Slam. People believe that these performance metrics are due to the players, which is correct, but we should not overlook the racket’s role.
The history of Tennis indicates that its technological development was quite primitive during its early era. Wimbledon was the first tournament to be held in 1877, while the Australian Open took place its first time in 1905. The sport developed with the advancement of engineering.
The design of initially tennis rackets was borrowed from the older sport of real tennis of the 16th century. At that time rich and elite class game was Tennis. The Racket made the game easier as they were made of wood long handles and small lopsided heads. This helped to play the game easier because real tennis balls’ bounce was very low. Later, when Tennis developed this type of Rackets disappeared. The commonplace rackets after the first Australian open are “Symmetrical Racket Frames”.
Many Manufacturers continued production of rackets from wood till the 1960s while few produced metal frames to overcome the issue of warping wood because of humidity. The metal frames offer less damping where player felt harsher vibrations if mishit the ball, remained unsuccessful.
Technological Advances in Tennis Rackets
In 1968, professionals started competing for cash prizes; this was a key factor behind the fastest development of rackets around the world. Although, during the 1960s still wood rackets were common but fiberglass as reinforcement on wooden rackets started to appear.
The Racket engineers continued experiments with a large variety of materials such as fiberglass, wood, steel, and aluminum. The key Racket in that era was the Classic by Price. This was made of aluminum, having a larger head than wood predecessors allowed ease to hit the ball. The issue faced in metal racket overcomes with the usage of Plastic grommets.
Since the 1980s, the rackets made from fiberglass, aramid, and carbon fiber. The key benefits of these types of materials are low density and high stiffness as compared to wood and metal. The composites materials offer the engineers more freedom in terms of parameters like shape, stiffness, and mass distribution. This helped to introduce Widebody rackets like “Profile” by Wilson. The Widebody rackets give higher stiffness as they larger cross-section in the center than the tip and handle.
Involvement of Players- Tennis Racquet
The composite rackets made from fiberglass, aramid, and carbon fiber offer higher stiffness so they help to lose less energy allowing players to hit the ball faster. The risk of overuse injury may be increased to the arm while using a high stiffness racket with a large head. A modern racket having low swing weight, is easy for players when they tend to swing. To prevent arm injury risk, please read the following article which provides you with a list of arm friendly tennis rackets.
We can see the composite tennis racket manufactured using labor which is not environment friendly. The manufacturer can explore more suitable and sustainable materials with automated manufacturing techniques. Moreover, monitoring how a player swings a racket with a technique of a sensor will help to manufacturer customized rackets optimizing player’s styles. Hopefully, more progress will be made in this game in the future.