Forget mousetraps. Andrew Brown has designed the better tennis racket.
That's what Brown says, and he's won over at least one authoritative convert. No, not Mats Wilander - we're talking about Frank Katch, chairman of the exercise science department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.When Katch tried out Brown's racket, which has a six-sided handle instead of the traditional eight, he hit perfect backhands on the first few tries. "I have never done that before," the professor said in amazement.
By scrutinizing the racket through high-speed cameras and a computer that traced reflective markers on players' wrists, Katch said he verified Brown's claim that shifting the handle angle slightly and making it hexagonal rather than octagonal does wonders for shots.
Brown, a Cincinnati actuary, said the inspiration for the handle came when he and his wife suffered a humiliating loss to another couple. "They ran us off the court. I got so incensed by the whole thing, I said, `I'm going to do something about it.' "
He spent a month shaving the angles off a wooden handle at home, building new angles with wood putty and testing his experiment every morning before work.