I don't understand how this would be better since the strain is now in your hands (right??)
They move on armed with the first two-handed rackets in this tournament's history. Rackets that were the brainchild of Lionel Burt in Los Angeles, but that the Battistone brothers -- after Brian met Burt's son on a tennis court one day -- helped produce, design and manufacture, and now help sell on the road as members of the Natural Tennis company.
Rackets that split just above the grips, leaving a Y-shaped handle with one grip in front of the racket head, and another behind. Burt, who got the rackets cleared through the International Tennis Federation, designed them originally to help balance out the body during a swing, easing stress on the wrist, elbow, shoulder and back.
"I was out of the game for four or five years," said Brian, who is finishing up a General Studies degree at BYU with an emphasis in psychology.
"And (Dann), almost seven years. And so, at the end of last year, we decided to give it a go again. And the rackets gave us some extra incentive, because we formed a company with the inventor, and (said), hey, we're going to go out and try this. So in nine months time, we've gone from no ranking at all, to in the 200s now. So we're hoping for a shot at the U.S. Open."
It's a jump in rankings, and a dream of Flushing, that both credit in large part to their rackets, which Brian said give more options with the different angles you can create, and with extra length and stability.
Up until six, seven months ago, Dann said he'd never hit a two-handed forehand in his life. Now, he's doing so regularly, and the difference in the consistency of his serve returns, he said, has been huge.
"It really has gotten me excited about the game again," Dann said. "Our results show that the racket ... it's a weapon. It's a huge advantage in the game."
Asked for any disadvantages or major hurdles the two had to overcome with their new equipment, Brian said: "We joke the only disadvantage is that you have to buy two overgrips.
"But really, it's tradition. That's the biggest thing. There's nothing that you can't do with this racket that you can do with the single-handed racket. So it's just that tradition -- you know, it looks different, it looks funny, people think. And it's just kind of breaking the mold."
At one point in Saturday's match, Brian went to serve and the racket slipped out of his hand. He called out "sorry," as the ball hit the ground and he walked up to talk with Dann. Behind him, though, his racket came to rest upright on its side, balanced by the two grips.
Across the court, Hloudy, playing to the crowd, lay his traditional racket down on its side. It quickly fell over, drawing laughs from the stands.
Afterward, Hloudy -- who reached the doubles semifinals at Wimbledon this year -- said he didn't want to speak poorly of the new rackets, that he'd never tried them before. But that he saw them as more of a "show for the people."
Still, it's the Battistone brothers who play on here in Binghamton, where they've clearly piqued curiosity and earned some new fans. Not to mention sold out the half dozen or so rackets they brought to sell half-price at $100.
Following their match, both did interviews with reporters, then posed for pictures. They let fans try out a few swings, and then eventually, in what has become their routine at these challenger events, they ended up at a far tennis court, hitting around with the ball boys and girls.
"I took seven years off," Dann said. "I've been playing 10 months now, and it's like I'm a kid again. It's just fun playing pro tournaments again."