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USTA League National Championships

What's this racquet? SoCal men show Freestyle form

September 29, 2012 12:22 PM
The team of Scott Crandall and Trent Aaron have four handles between them and one goal in mind: A national championship for USTA Southern California.
The weapon of choice -- the "Freestyle."
By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- When it comes to watching the 2012 USTA League 5.0 Adult National Championships this weekend at the Indian Wells Tennis Center, you never know what you might see.
Two members of the USTA Southern California Section men’s 5.0 team, which plays out of Westchester Park in Los Angeles, played their Friday morning doubles match against the Mid-Atlantic Section men’s 5.0 team using the recently introduced Freestyle racquet.
The racquet, which is produced and distributed by Natural Tennis, Inc., is the latest version of the two-handled racquet used by touring tennis professionals Brian Battistone and Dann Battistone, who compete on the ATP World Tour.  
Scott Crandall, a 42-year-old resident of West Hills, Calif. and 43-year-old Trent Aaron, a USPTA teaching professional from San Pedro, Calif. are the two Southern California players who arrived at this weekend’s National Championships ready to play with their dual-handled racquets.
Aaron, a minority partner of Natural Tennis, Inc., was thrilled to be using the Freestyle racquet. "The racquet is designed so you can use both sides of your body equally when you play tennis. You get a full brain and full body workout," Aaron said. "There are competitive advantages such as leverage on the serve, smash and reach and disguise."
Using the Freestyle racquet has help Aaron improve his tennis game. "The biggest way it helped (me) was the reach, but more importantly was the smash. I really wasn’t explosive with my overheads. Typically now, whenever I hit an overhead, the point is over," Aaron said. 
"It has a natural wrist snap at times at the right time and it pulls downward," Aaron added. "Same on the serve, you get 10 to 15 more miles an hour on your serve."
According to Aaron, who began playing with earlier versions of the racquet about three or four years ago, the International Tennis Federation has approved the racquet for all levels of competition and ruled that the racquet conforms to official ITF rules of tennis.
Crandall, who works in the bio tech field, first saw the racquet several years ago when the Battistone brothers played a USTA Challenger in Calabasas, Calif. However, it wasn’t until about three months ago he played with the racquet for the first time.
"When I saw that Trent was on my 5.0 team, I started playing with it," Crandall said. "Right off the bat, within a week, my serve got better almost immediately as soon as I got used to it, because of the angles. My spins became more pronounced. Being left-handed, that gave me a nice lefty serve." 
Crandall also noticed other changes in his game after he began using the Freestyle racquet. "The other thing is returning serve. When somebody kicks that high ball to your backhand, with this double-handled racquet, you have so much stability," he said. "I’m hitting better shots when I’m out of position because I can use both arms and there is more strength there than I could produce with a single-handled racquet."
Both Aaron and Crandall are frequently asked about the racquet whenever they play at tournaments and they are more than happy to share their thoughts. 
"People are really curious about it, so that’s great," Crandall said. "I would encourage people to give it a try. If you put in the time, you will get better." 
For more information on the Freestyle racquet, go to www.naturaltennis.com


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