Super-Flex Racquets: A Step Backwards for Tennis
Here we are in 2021 when advances in science and technology have transformed nearly every aspect of life on earth in colossal ways. It's a time when progress is being made in leaps and bounds in everything from medicine to communications, from ground travel to space travel, and yet the tennis industry has decided that now is the perfect time to take a step backwards in the design and engineering of racquets. When industries all around us are moving forward and embracing enormous technological changes and challenges at a scale never before seen, the tennis industry has gone all out to give tennis players everywhere, "retro engineering".
As a member of the professional tennis community for over 25 years and with over 35 years of design and engineering experience, it's disheartening to see industry leaders shy away from the true challenge of the modern high-impact racquet dilemma: how to harness all of the advantages of super-strength, super-lightweight high-tech materials and state of the art manufacturing techniques in order to optimize racquet performance while minimizing physical punishment to players' bodies in a racquet for players of all levels.
Super-flexible high-tech carbon composite racquets, currently the hot trend in the market, are designed to mimic the flexible performance of wood racquets from the old days as a way to make a carbon composite racquet comfortable. To think that a carbon-fiber composite, the same material used to make spaceships, rockets and advanced airplanes and all kinds of other high-tech equipment, and one of the strongest, lightest, most advanced materials available on earth, is being engineered in tennis racquets to bend and twist and to act like wood, one of the oldest and heaviest materials available for racquet making! It's technological surrender, a white flag signaling a dead end for conventional racquet design in the era of modern high-impact, big power tennis. When one of the great materials of the new century is dumbed down to behave like an older far inferior one in order to solve a problem with a 100 year old design model, it's not difficult to conclude that a part of the equation is broken.
Elephant on the Court
The glaring issue is the danger of players blowing apart their arms as racquets and strings get stiffer. It's been festering for two decades and it's not limited to recreational players like it may have been in previous eras, it's an issue at the professional level as well. Even players with great technique are having serious arm and wrist issues. Since the introduction of the first super-stiff, super-powerful hollow carbon composite frames in the late 1980s and early