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Double Strung Tennis Racquets: Blackburne’s Latest Innovation

What is Bermuda’s Place in Tennis History?

Story of the Blackburne Double StrungTM
At last you can play with the Blackburne Double Strung racquet, which was hitherto outlawed by the International Tennis Federation for some ten years.  This revolutionary racquet, invented and designed by Robin Blackburne, is now sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation and United States Tennis Association for play by amateurs and professionals in all tournaments and championships worldwide.

And finally, the most technically advanced racquet in the world is now available in limited quantities, in a few chosen markets. The Blackburne is hand-crafted and we are only able to make a few hundred racquets a month for the whole world.

The Blackburne Double Strung is totally different from all other racquets ever made. It has two sets of strings, or string beds, which lie on each side of the frame, thereby presenting a perfect plane of strings to the ball, with no frame protruding.  Ergo the ‘frame shot’ is a thing of the past.

Robin Blackburne, the inventor
Robin Blackburne,
Inventor of the Blackburne Double Strung RacquetTM

You get almost twice the effective hitting area without the ball deflecting as a frame shot. And for top spin there is no nasty half inch of frame to get in the way. The dwell period is longer and the ball always leaves the trailing edge clean.

The Blackburne Double StrungTM has taken over 20 years to develop. Only now are the materials and technology available to make this amazing racquet possible.

Some of the most brilliant engineers, physicists and designers, using sophisticated computer programs, have worked on the project to create this revolutionary new racquet.  It is amazingly light - wonderful for doubles with great maneuverability at the net. Yet at the same time, we have engineered the Blackburne to be fractionally head-heavy, giving it a comfortable swing-weight for singles.

The DS107 head-frame is an ideal 107 square inches, falling between mid-plus and small oversize - Super-Mid, as we have called it. The Blackburne is firmly stiff, giving you all the power you need with excellent control; and of course it performs wonderfully on off-centre hits. The unique stringing system creates a racquet of ‘box’ construction, prized by structural engineers. Conventional racquets have torsion control problems on off-centre hits, and the conventional single central stringing tends to seek to pull the frame out of alignment. But the Blackburne actually becomes stiffer and resists torsion better after it is strung. It thus gives great stability and control during play.

And for tournament and more advanced club players, we have recently introduced the DS 97- a powerful raqcuet with a small mid-size frame or 97 inches.

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tennis in 1886

Bermuda’s Place in Tennis History
In 1873, the modern game of Lawn Tennis as we know it was invented in England by a British Army officer, Major Walter C. Wingfield.  At the Major’s Christmas party that year, a fellow officer was introduced to this new and bizarre game and became impassioned with it- a sort of love at first strike.

This military gentleman was posted to Bermuda in early 1874 and brought with him the then primitive equipment with which to play tennis, no doubt expecting that Bermuda would have little in the way of entertainment.  He set a net up in the grounds of  “Clermont” in Paget where the first game of lawn tennis was played in the Western Hemisphere.

It so happened that a young American Lady, a Mary Ewing Outerbridge, was vacationing in Bermuda that winter. During her stay, she chanced upon the Army officer and others cavorting on the lawn of Clermont and participated in this new sport.  She also became enamored with the game and took back to  the United States with her the measurements of the court and probably a racquet or two.  The passenger list on the S. S. Canima on the 2nd February 1874 shows a Mary E. Outerbridge to have been on board and to have been aged 22.  She was not  a “Bermuda” Outerbridge, traditionally one of the “forty thieves” families of the Island.

Little did Mary Outerbridge realize that, on making the crossing by sea from Bermuda to New York, she would go down in history as the person who first introduced Tennis to the United States of America.  She set up a make-shift tennis court on the lawns of the Staten Island Cricket Club, lent some racquets to her friends and instructed them in the rules and techniques of this fascinating and in those days hardly lady-like occupation.  Since then, hundreds of millions of Americans have become impassioned with tennis and have idled away thousands of millions of hours in pursuit of this most enchanting summer game.

The racquets in the last century were fairly primitive and were much smaller than they are today. The strings were made exclusively of cat gut.  Nylon had not been invented and would not be used in racquets for another eighty years.  The grass was probably rather uneven and the bounce unpredictable.  Which meant that the outcome of the game left much to the laws of chance and the home team often had the advantage of familiarity with the lie of the land; and, in the case of the courts of Bermuda, the exact location of the crab holes.

Tennis became extremely popular throughout the world after the turn of the century.  Elegance was the norm, ladies wore long flowing dresses and gentlemen long white trousers.  Which must have cramped the participants’ mobility somewhat.

Most of the fine houses in America and England had a grass tennis court on the grounds.  In the 1920’s and 1930’s the tennis party was one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.   Bermuda was no exception and there were literally hundreds of grass courts scattered on private properties from St. Georges to Somerset.

Bermuda carried on as one of the Western Hemisphere’s most popular destination resorts for generations of  tennis players and families.  Indeed the climate of Bermuda lends itself to tennis and it must be one of the few places in the world where tennis can be played on good quality grass three hundred and sixty five days of the year.

Today only a handful of grass courts remain.  Most of the tennis is played on hard courts.  The Coral Beach Club has maintained eight fine clay courts which lie about a mile from the original court at Clermont.  Mary Outerbridge would have been thrilled to know that on December 1993, exactly a hundred and twenty years later, the Coral Beach courts would be used for the first International ATP Tournament to be hosted by Bermuda.

Many of the greatest players in tennis history have enjoyed tennis in Bermuda, including Fred Perry, Jack Kramer, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Cliff Drysdale, Clark Graebner, Rod Laver, Tony Trabert and the two Panchos- Segura and Gonzalez.  But this was in the gentlemanly days of amateur tennis.  More recently. Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, Patrick Rafter and others have favored Bermuda as the ideal location get away to combine serious training and relaxation.

For amateur players, the best months for tennis in Bermuda are from late October to early June.  The temperature is relatively cool and you don’t need to change wrist bands every five minutes.  Indeed you don’t have to wear them at all during these months.  The sea is still comfortably warm to bathe in up till early December.

In April each year the Island hosts the ATP Bermuda Open.  For competitive amateur tennis buffs, a schedule of events goes throughout the year culminating in two delightful  “traditional” amateur tournaments held back to back the first two weeks in November.  If you are prepared to celebrate the traditional tennis, play a decent game, wear tennis whites for a week and generally don’t shout and scream when you lose a point, you will probably be considered eligible to receive an invitation.  If you would like to play, contact the Club Secretary, Coral Beach Club, Paget Bermuda; 441-236-2233.

Where else can you embrace over 100 years of tennis history?

From the legacy of  Mary Outerbridge to the future of tennis with the revolutionary Blackburne Double Strung Racquet!TM

I've got to have one!

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