Product Profile: Battistone Freestyle by Natural Tennis
Release Date: August 2012
Head Size: 105 sq. in.
Length: 27.25 in.
Weight*: 10.8 oz.
Balance*: 10 pts. HL
Beam Width: 23-26-22.5 mm
String Pattern: 16 x 19
*Values represent strung frames.
Facts: Subscribing to the theory that two hands are better than one, the funky-looking Freestyle aims to provide more power with less effort, enabling players to use two semi-western grips on ground strokes and two continental grips on serves and volleys. The Freestyle is approved by the ITF for all levels of tournament play, and the Battistone brothers have wielded the racquet to the pro circuit—see Brian Battistone demonstrate groundstrokes with it below.
Designers say the dual grips enable players to hit “all one- and two-handed shots from both sides of the body in a symmetrical way, with ultra stable power.” The Freestyle applies the push-pull concept to stroke production as “optimal leverage is created by pulling with the front handle and pushing with the back.” Natural Tennis cites the extended reach—creating leverage on both sides of the body and encouraging symmetrical play—among the Freestyle’s benefits, and contend that having two hands on the racquet makes it easier to block back serves with minimal effort and maximum stability.
Impressions: Players with two-handed backhands would seem to adjust to this racquet more quickly. It would be intriguing to see the type of mayhem Fabrice Santoro, who played with two hands off both sides, could create with this racquet.
Hitting with this properly invites disguise; it can be tricky for opponents to accurately read the direction of shots off an opponent's strings. The V-shape of the dual flared handles recall a pair of pliers locked in use.
In early hitting, the slice forehand was a comfortable shot with the Freestyle, but transitioning from baseline to net—particularly when trying to pick up low-half volleys around mid-court—was a challenge, as was returning body serves. On serves, overheads, and stretch forehands, gripping one handle (the handle closest to net) works best. Successfully adapting to the racquet depends a bit on your stroke style, grips, and sense of adventure, but it definitely demands attention from both opponents and curious observers.
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