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Thu Apr 17 08:46:16 SAST 2014

New Yorker builds bus-sized tennis racket

Sapa-AFP | 29 August, 2012 08:390 Comments
A ball bounces between the feet of a tennis player during a training session at the Madrid Open May 4, 2012
Image by: Andrea Comas / REUTERS

Talk about having a big serve: wacky New Yorker Ashrita Furman has just built a tennis racket the size of a bus.

Furman, who holds the record for the most Guinness World Records at one time — currently 151 — hopes his mammoth wooden racket will soon join the list.

The contraption is an exact copy of the wooden one used by Billie Jean King in the 1970s when she reigned over women’s tennis at tournaments like the US Open that kicked off in New York this week.

The laminated wooden head, brown grip, red trim and inscriptions are a perfect match.

The only difference is that the racket measures 50 feet (15.2 meters) in length and has a head 16 feet (4.9 meters) wide. Strings are made of water hose and the handle is so big that even a large person would have trouble wrapping both arms around it.

“It’s 22.2 times bigger and done to scale,” Furman told AFP.

Although it was his idea, this wasn’t the lonely challenge of some of his other Guinness feats, which included balancing 81 drinking glasses on his chin or running a half marathon with a full bottle of milk on his head.

“We had members from all over the world. One guy from New Zealand did the wood finishing. We had a guy who’s a professional violinist and he did the strings. We had a German guy planing the wood,” Furman said.

Once the giant sporting device was done, propped up on blocks in a private driveway in New York’s borough of Queens, the next challenge was to decide where to take it — and how to get it there.

“We did try to display it at the US Open, but we were told that because it’s over 10 feet high it’s considered a building,” Furman said, laughing. “You know it would take months to get a permit from the Department of Buildings.” 

Furman, 57, and his assistants are all devotees of the late guru and peace advocate Sri Chinmoy, a friend of King’s, who taught that meditation can help people accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.

The racket was built to honour what would have been his 81st birthday.

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