By Manuela Emmrich ’11
In the last fifty years the world has seen unparalleled innovation in just about every way imaginable, including the world of sports. However, there is one major sport that has seen very little of this mainstream progression. Tennis. More specifically the tennis racket. After 140 years in existence, the tennis racket has remained virtually the same in design. It’s an oval head, with a straight handle.
However that is about to change. Thunderbird Alumna and former NCAA tennis champion, Manuela Emmrich and former pro tennis player Thomas Emmrich just launched Curvstar. A revolutionary ergonomic tennis racket. As you may know, many tennis players eventually suffer from overuse injuries such as tennis elbow. This is because holding a standard racket requires one to bend their wrist and elbow in unnatural ways and in addition with vibrations this can cause stress to muscles and joints.
This was something that Manuela was all too familiar with as she suffered from wrist injuries during her college career. She knew there had to be a way to play the sport she loved, with reduced injury risk while also improving game performance. After years of research and studying body mechanics, the solution came in the form of a brand new tennis racket design. This design was radical in that it took the traditional straight handle and made it ergonomically curved. This curved handle resulted in a tennis racket that was designed to fit the natural curve of your palm. It was designed to work with your body, rather than against it.
Choosing the name Curvstar, over the next few years this racket design would go on to earn a certified design patent, to be approved by the International Tennis Federation for league play, and would be used by Thomas Emmrich as his go-to racket to with the European Senior Championships. Despite these achievements, the Curvstar racket remained a prototype. As with all new technology, innovation is not always met with open arms. Especially in a tradition based sport like tennis. It was only until attending a business plan class at Thunderbird in 2011 that co-founder Manuela decided it was time for the world to discover Curvstar. Having rebranded the racket with a new neon green paint job, it was finally ready to make its mainstream debut.
Using Kickstarter as a platform to raise funds for the racket, Curvstar has seen a tremendous response. Recognizable by its unique colors and design, people can’t help but want to learn more. Receiving dozens of comments, emails, and tweets over social media the racket has hit the tennis scene with a splash, and has already been picked up by major tennis publications such as tennis.com and ESPN announcer Darren Cahill. Curvstar still needs your support to successfully fund production. Anyone interested in supporting a Tbird and contributing to innovation, or just learning more about the frame, should visit the Kickstarter campaign link http://kck.st/1kC3e6z.