Don R. Mueller, also known as “Professor Tennis,” has spent the last decade trying to change tennis by insisting the game should be played with two rackets.
Rarely, do any opponents approach the speed and power that Mueller produces with his two-handed concept, but that has not meant an easy acceptance of his unique concept.
“I feel that the most important part of the philosophy of using using two rackets in tennis is that it increases a persons neuromuscular well-being," said Mueller, who graduated from the University at Buffalo and has a Ph.D in chemical physics from Rutgers. "I also feel that the two handed-concept increases brain function, helps balance the body and lessens the stress of playing with one hand. I feel that it virtually eliminates the chance of getting tennis elbow."
During Mueller's exhibitions, other players look in awe as Mueller prepares to serve. He balances the ball on the throat of the racket and hits the ball into the air at what he says often approaches 140 miles per hour. After that, he places a racket in each hand and is ready to take on all comers.
The game is played with the same rules as regular tennis, other than the obvious.
Mueller, a former physics professor, stressed that when he approaches the net, the combination of his 6-3 frame and a racket in each hand gives him an advantage. In essence, it is virtually impossible to pass him. Mueller has also invented a grip for tennis rackets that he calls the Whip-Grip, which gives the racket head extra velocity.
Mueller's goal is for his alternative form of tennis to be accepted by such groups as the United States Tennis Association. He is often frustrated by the governing tennis body. The organization will not concede that playing with rackets in both hands has any merits. In fact, the group will not even admit that it is really playing tennis.
“Everyone I asked, including some teaching pros, saw no redeeming value in it,” Richard Kaufman, a director of officials for professional tennis at the United States Tennis Association told the New York Times. "They basically thought it was a ludicrous idea. If he wants to start his own game, that’s fine. But it is not tennis.”
Mueller noted that some of his critics have included the late tennis commentator Bud Collins, whom Mueller said told him: “Why do you persist in your two-handed racket concept? You know that the tennis world will never accept your idea?” Naturally, Mueller ignored Collins and he continues to persist.
Mueller said the forehand is the most powerful stroke in tennis. Players such as Jim Courier tried to hit almost every forehand that he could, even if he had to run around his backhand. With two hands, you can hit returns more powerfully because a shot hit to your backhand can be readily hit back with your racket in your left hand.
Mueller's hope for innovation is not limited to playing with two hands. He recently has been working on a new tennis service technique called Dorsi-flexion (backswing) followed by Palmar-flexion (impact of racket and ball). The result is a serve that is similar to that of hitting a golf ball.
He noted that golfers hit with a supinated wrist on contact, with the hand facing the body whereas tennis servers hit with a pronated wrist on contact, with the hand facing away from the body. He said if the golfers can do it to hit much harder than why not have the tennis player try hitting harder by changing the wrist direction?
Mueller believes in his idea and he is now showing folks how to do it. He says that they hit very hard serves without the elbow pain associated with the traditional tennis serve. He has challenged the tennis establishment to set up a radar gun and see if he can't outhit those using the traditional grip.
"Some experts claim that my ideas are expensive and not cost effective," he said. "However, there are younger people who are now trying the two-handed concept. They feel that rackets, which are customized are easier to grip and hit the ball with.
"I will continue to promote playing two-handed tennis as I feel it will help most tennis players to greatly improve their games."