Serena and Kei's not so secret weapons
Think about how much difference it would make, later in a match for you to feel 10% more energy than your opponent
When the Australian Open gets underway on Monday, Serena Williams and Kei Nishikori will be playing with their new Wilson rackets, which contain the company’s new patented vibration dampening technology called Countervail
According to the company’s Global Marketing Director, Kyle Schlegel, Countervail is proven to help players on three levels. Firstly it reduces vibration, secondly it reduces fatigue and as a result of those two, Countervail enables players to maintain more control during long matches.
Milos Raonic was the first Wilson player to use a racket with the technology, starting at the beginning of 2016. Schlegel says the world No.3 started playing with it three days before last year’s Australian Open, where he reached the semi-finals and went on to have his best season ever.
“We were thrilled with Milos’ season,” said Schlegel, “but we also wanted to understand from a data standpoint what was really happening with Countervail.” So the team set about working with the University of Minnesota kinesiology department, wiring up university team players and gathering data.
So what did they find? According to Schlegel, three significant percentages: 40, 30 and 10.
Players experienced 40% more control when hitting with Countervail. They hit 40% more balls close to targets than when they did not have Countervail. Players experienced 30% less vibration when playing with Countervail and that led to players feeling 10% less fatigued later in their training session.
“Think about how much difference it would make, later in a match for you to feel 10% more energy than your opponent,” said Schlegel, “and be able to feel confident that you are going to be able to hit the ball 40% more often to where you want it, when you want to.”
Perhaps it will be these margins that will assist to Serena Williams sand Kei Nishikori with their Australian Open campaigns this year.
At a presentation at Melbourne Park on Thursday the respective World No.2 and No.5, accompanied by Australian youngsters and Grand Slam debutantes Jaimee Fourlis and Destanee Aiava, talked about what the technology means to them.
Serena is playing for the first time with the Wilson Blade SW 104 Autograph racket. “I think with Countervail in particular it’s all about the recovery and I do have some long matches and I did not feel like my body was going to break,” she said. “I wish I had started Countervail last year. I tried it, then I was like ‘I don't know’, then I tried it again and I just fell in love with it.”
The 22-time Grand Slam Champion says she can remember her first racket. “It was a blue Wilson Profile,” she recalled. “I have kept all the rackets that I have won my Grand Slams with. I know my dad still has my Profile. Venus had the gold. I had the blue.”
“I really don’t know who gave me my first racket, I assume it was my dad,” she added.
Flanked on either side by teenagers Fourlis and Aiava, as she spoke, Williams said she was pleased to be a role model for players.
“It’s a great feeling, you know my whole life, I just wanted to play tennis and I never thought about anything else that would come with it but then people like Destanee wanted to start because they have been watching me and that makes me feel really great. Influencing people is really what this role is about,” she said.
Aiava, who is the first player born this millennium to play in a major event and was only five years old when she first watched Serena said: “This is one of the best days of my life. I’ve had a lot of fun today, hitting against Serena and hopefully there will be more opportunities like this in the future."
The Australian teenagers, both with wildcards for the Open will be hoping, along with their idols, that the technology in their rackets will deliver what the data tests demonstrated.
Countervail technology is now available around the world in the Wilson Blade and Burn rackets.