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Tennis Elbow and the Blackburne Double Strung Racquet.

At any one time there are probably a million tennis players around the world suffering from some form of “Tennis Elbow”. Those of us who have experienced this often excruciating pain have tried every remedy and somehow nothing seems to work. There are many schools of thought as to how best to alleviate the pain or, better still, cure the problem. We may have to stop playing tennis for a while. And, after a few weeks, it does seem to get better.

But one of the things we can do to help avoid the problem is choose our tennis racquet very carefully. The recent trend towards very light racquets appears to have contributed to many thousands of players experiencing tennis elbow problems for the first time. Some of these racquets weigh in at just eight ounces and are also “head light”!

The laws of Newton have not changed in 300 years since Sir Isaac proclaimed that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

A tennis ball weighs around two and a half ounces. If the frame end of a light racquet weights less than four ounces, it does not require a great deal of familiarity with physics to conclude that the ball will be hitting the racquet rather than the racquet hitting the ball. Which means the excessive shock to the racquet head is imparted to the arm and thence to the elbow. Ouch.

Blackburne Advanced Racquet Systems never made an ultra-light racquet, since our philosophy has always been based on good solid physics. We want the racquet to hit the ball. The Blackburne DS 107 weighs in at a little over ten ounces and is a fraction head-heavy. Robin Blackburne, the inventor and designer of the BB racquet, recalls the teaching professional at his club in Wimbledon, where he lived as a boy, saying to him time and time again: “Robin, let the racquet do the work”. He never forgot this. The racquet head should have enough mass to hit the ball without the need for excessive racquet head speed which leads to inaccurate shots.

It appears that tennis elbow can be brought on by hitting the ball on the frame — which we all do more often than we care to admit. Photography at 4,000 frames a second has demonstrated that, with conventional racquets, the racquet is jerked sideways every time the ball hits the frame. And this lateral shock movement on impact is referred up the arm to the elbow. Ouch again.

When the ball hits the frame of the Blackburne DS 107, there is no lateral jarring motion, since the strings overlie and are flush with the frame. And, of course, your shot will go back over the net as if the ball never hit the frame.

Not only is the Blackburne effective on frame shots but, wherever on the strings the ball impacts, there is that solid feel experienced with no other racquet.

So, if you have even a hint of tennis elbow, or wish to avoid it in the future, you will benefit from playing with the Blackburne.

Here is an email recently received, out of the blue and totally unsolicited, from a tennis elbow sufferer living in England:

Dear Sir,

I have owned a Blackburne racquet for over eight years - in fact I have two! The reason for purchasing my first Blackburne was on the recommendation of Rohan Bevan, the professional at Wentworth Tennis Club, purely in order that I could even play tennis. My "tennis elbow" was so bad that it was impossible to even play a gentle game without strappings and ibuprofen gel/spray. Once I started playing with my Blackburne, the tennis elbow disappeared and has never returned. I carry a second racquet in case a string breaks - it never has - but also in case a "vibration damper" breaks which happens on a regular basis.

My main point in writing is to ask if you have a stockist in the UK. I would like to purchase some spare vibration dampers but also I have done such a good job of "selling" the Blackburne at my tennis club (St George’s Hill) that people keep asking me where they can buy one. I would mention that these are the "tennis elbow" brigade and the money they would save on strapping and braces would probably pay for a racquet.

Having looked at your web site, I don't think you emphasise enough the benefits to sufferers of tennis elbow. That said, my wife was taken by the thought of a larger sweet spot and, after eight years of suggesting that my racquet was just for people with bad elbows, has asked to borrow mine at the weekend. This could mean I will have to buy her one! I have never over-emphasised the help the racquet gives me when spinning the ball. That is my secret! People just believe that it is pure ability on my part and I would hate to ruin their misconception that the "spin meister", as I am known, has a little help from his Blackburne racquet.

Yours sincerely,

Barry Birch

London, England.

Note: Mr. Birch subsequently bought six Blackburne racquets — two for his wife and four for his friends with tennis elbows.

I’ve got to have one!

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