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If you were to design the perfect tennis racquet, unconstrained by modern technology, what would it be like? Feel free to let your imagination run wild.—Albert E.
Interesting thought experiment, Albert. I’ve always imagined that the perfect racquet would be able to, mid-flight, alter its properties depending on the shot it was about to hit. Such fluid properties would include weight, balance, and swingweight, but also perhaps length and beam rigidity. I haven’t the slightest idea how it would function, but the stick would be of amorphous construction—“alive,” in a sense, and able to adapt its parameters to a player’s court positioning, shot selection, and stroke idiosyncrasies.
Imagine. You’re holding the Godwand, we’ll call it. Backed up behind the baseline, you’re waiting to return a moonball with a deep, defensive shot of your own. In preparation for this shot, the racquet becomes more rigid for extra stability and power. Mass in the throat and handle also shifts toward the head, increasing the racquet’s swingweight and, again, its power. Proper tool in hand, you rip a deep, heavy ball.
Obviously, with such a racquet, the question arises: Would it be legal? After taking a gander at the International Tennis Federation’s Rules of Tennis, it appears clear that the Godwand would go the way of the spaghetti racquet. According to Appendix II: The Racket:
“The frame, including the handle, and the strings, shall be free of any device which makes it possible to change materially the shape of the racket, or to change materially the weight distribution in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the racket which would alter the swing moment of inertia, or to change deliberately any physical property which may affect the performance of the racket during the playing of a point. No energy source that in any way changes or affects the playing characteristics of a racket may be built into or attached to a racket.”
Thoughts, dear readers? Dreams of your Godwand?