Tennis Industry magazine


Tennis innovations

Green Machine: Engineers Team to Produce Pedal-Powered Ball Launcher

By Kent Oswald

Great doubles teams have complementary individuals who are able to respond to pressure. Thus was born the Pedal Powered Tennis Ball Launcher.

With only weeks remaining before the Innovate or Die Pedal Powered Machine Contest deadline, Daniel Bauen spent his 2007 Thanksgiving matching his mechanical engineering skills and an interest in cycling with high school friend Dinesh “Dino” Mantri’s electrical engineering knowledge and love of tennis. The result was a light, portable ball machine that is easy to aim and no more difficult to use than a stationary bike set at medium resistance.

Bauen was looking for something that could help him with his swing and technique, and the contest’s green theme was a perfect fit. “Why do I need these electrical [ball machines] when Dino will run off water and energy bars?” says Bauen.

Both Bauen and Mantri are Atlanta natives (although Mantri recently moved to Houston) with Georgia Tech engineering degrees. Their Pedal Powered Tennis Ball Launcher was constructed from harvested parts, including scrap children’s bikes and a trailer. An old water jug serves as a ball hopper and a bent lacrosse stick topped by a tennis ball is the release mechanism, dropping a ball from the hopper to the propulsion wheels. A cable connected to the front wheel of the bike allows the rider to direct the ball on the court by turning the handlebars.

Although they did not win the Innovate or Die Pedal Powered contest, neither is discouraged. “It was a fun and crazy idea that we conceived during a moment of spontaneity,” says Mantri, who has been playing tennis since he was 10. “Now I can give Daniel hitting practice while working on my cycling power and endurance, and vice versa.”

Production on their machine has not proceeded beyond the demo (view the video here), but Bauen and Mantri are open to the right opportunity. They’ve refined their concept with “designs that would reduce the size and complexity, increase the efficiency, and create a more visually appealing machine.”

Keeping the pressure up, they are currently working on a project to green up the sport a bit more by increasing the life of tennis balls.

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About the Author

Kent Oswald  is a contributor to, producer at the and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.



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