Brian Battistone isn't a name that usually pops up when you're talking about players in the U.S. Open but yesterday, the tennis player garnered a lot of attention. The one-time 88th-ranked men's doubles player had onlookers gazing at his equipment — his unusual double-handled tennis racket.
"It's one one of the craziest things I've ever seen in tennis," said former USTA official Randy Walker.
Battistone is the only tennis player on the pro tour using the strange racket — with its "V-shaped" handles — which was approved by the ITF in 2007. Only four players are known to have used it in a professional event — with Battistone probably being the best known, make that only known.
"You get a lot of comments," Battistone told The New York Post. "It looks more like a hedge clipper, divining rod or snow shovel than a tennis racket." Good to have if he has to lead himself to the water fountains during one of those sweltering days out in Flushing.
This is Battistone's comeback to the pro circuit after taking a hiatus in 2010 to become a tennis instructor. He qualified for this year's U.S. Open mixed doubles event by winning in New Haven last week.
Battistone uses two hands to control the racket and claims he gets more support and a stronger grip on his backhand.
The ITF were quick to approve the wacky racket five years ago even though it never really caught on among fellow pros.
"They were receptive," said Battistone. "They said, 'If you can feel you can beat Roger Federer with a snow shovel, good luck,'"