John Roberts: Big profits at stake in push for smaller tennis rackets

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Among items on the agenda at the International Tennis Federation's Science and Technology Congress in London this week was "Tennis and the Modern Racket: small is beautiful?"

The debate was prompted by a group of former players and professional observers who fear that the attacking style of serve-and-volley will disappear in a deluge of passing shots from the baseline unless the width of racket heads is reduced from 12.5 inches to nine inches.

Top-spin seemed rife in the quest for a sweet spot of consensus. The governing body warned that "tinkering with the natural cycles in our sport would cause more harm than good", and the manufacturers, whose baseline is profit, fretted about a change that would require the risk of investment and questioned the wisdom of producing smaller rackets for professionals and making the power-generating wide bodies for recreational players.

Point taken. But is it possible that the generation-spanning "small is beautiful" campaigners - including John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Pat Cash, Ilie Nastase, Stan Smith, Neale Fraser, Fred Stolle, Guillermo Vilas, Martina Navratilova, Ann Jones, Angela Mortimer and Sue Barker - can all be wrong?