Patent application title: Tennis ball retrieving device
Kostadinos Pete Kostouros (Phoenix, AZ, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B4702FI
Class name: Games using tangible projectile player held and powered, nonmechanical projector, per se, for projecting aerial projectile by striking; part thereof or accessory therefor having projectile retrieving means
Publication date: 2011-09-15
Patent application number: 20110224032
A tennis ball retriever for detachably fastening on the frame of a tennis
racket which eliminates bending and stooping required to retrieve a
tennis ball from the surface of a tennis court. A thin body is affixed to
the frame of a tennis racket to enable a player to conveniently lift or
scoop a tennis ball off the playing surface and retrieve it. The
retriever may remain fastened during play or may be easily removed if
1. An apparatus for placement on the frame of a racket to retrieve balls
used therewith comprising: a retrieval body for attachment to said frame
of said racket, wherein the frame of said racket has a head and the
retrieval body attaches to a point at the head of said racket; a fastener
means for fastening said retrieval body to said frame, wherein a portion
of said fastening means is joined to said body and complementary said
fastening means is joined to said frame.
2. The apparatus set forth in claim 1, wherein said body comprises a thin resilient plane and wherein when fastened to said point, said body conforms to said frame conjointly extending beyond the depth of one side of said frame in a parallel arrangement, whereby said body protrudes sufficiently on said one side for tennis ball retrieving purposes.
3. The apparatus set forth in claim 1, wherein said fastener means comprises an adhesive hook and loop fastening strip, wherein said adhesive loop strip is attached to a point at the head of said racket, and wherein said adhesive hook strip is attached to a portion of said retrieval body.
FIELD OF INVENTION
 This application herein pertains to an improved device fastened to a tennis racket, and particularly to a device for fastening to the head of a tennis racket to retrieve tennis balls with ease during and after practice or play.
 Bending or stooping to pick up tennis balls off of a playing surface can become a cumbersome task as in a given practice or game a player must perform this duty repeatedly. This can become challenging particularly if a player is expended, suffers from a disability, has back or knee problems, or is elderly.
 There have been many attempts in the past to remedy the burden of retrieving tennis balls off of the playing surface. Usually these devices consist of awkward and expensive appendages or contraptions that intrude on play or that are of difficulty to operate. Thereafter, several types of tennis ball retrieval devices were designed to remedy this problem. Some of these as disclosed in the following:
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,850 to Grey discloses a complex device that mounts to the frame of a tennis racket in which a pair of wire tines is pressed over a tennis ball to capture it and lift it off the playing surface. The player then must manually extract the ball from the tines. This devices suffers from being to large in proportion to the racket which will interfere with play and suffers from an inconvenient appearance. It also requires a player to extract the ball manually.
 U.S. Pat. No. 7,140,986 to Howe discloses a highly specific type of hooked material, when fastened to the frame of a tennis racket hooks on to the nap of a tennis ball which lifts the ball from the playing surface. The mechanism also requires a player to manually extract the ball from the racket. By using the hooked material to grasp the nap of the ball, will very quickly tatter the outer layer of the tennis ball.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,333,854 to Woollard discloses a tennis ball retriever which includes a cap having an open end with a recess and uses a plurality of miniature teeth to grasp the nap surface and thereby allowing a player to lift the ball. U.S. Pat. No. 5,056,786 to Bellettini uses a hooked fabric on the end of the racket handle to attach to tennis balls that are covered with intermeshing material. U.S. Pat. No. 4,815,738 to DiFranco uses a petal mechanism that expands when forced onto a tennis ball. All of these designs are a detriment to the user because they require the player to invert the racket, force the end of the handle onto the tennis ball, manually extract the ball, and then turn the racket over to the playing position.
 U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/257,135 by Blades discloses a tennis ball retriever in which a wire loop is affixed to tennis racket strings to enable a player to scoop a tennis ball off the playing surface and retrieve it. While this prevents the player from having to bend over to pick up the ball, the device may interfere with play as it requires the device to be affixed to the racket strings. In addition, this device does not allow the player to remove and attach it without effortful maneuvering. Also, a wire is a loose and pendulous article which may not constantly perform the desired task and may have to be replaced regularly.
 Therefore, a need exists for an improved and convenient device for a tennis racket to pick up tennis balls from the playing surface. The tennis ball retrieving device according to the embodiment of the invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art. Moreover, it is the object of the invention to produce an inexpensive and suitable device that can be quickly affixed and removed from a tennis racket to enable picking up tennis balls with ease during or after play without adversely affecting the utility and appearance of the racket.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In accordance with the invention claimed, a new and novel tennis ball retriever is disclosed which eliminates the bending and stooping usually required in the retrieval of a tennis ball from the playing surface.
 One or more embodiments of the present invention comprises a curved, flat, flexible, and durable sheet of plastic, rubber, or any other applicable body fastened to the head of the frame on a tennis racket to enable a player to pick or scoop up a tennis ball with ease. This device is easily attached and removed in that it is affixed to the frame by a hook and loop fastener or other attachment means.
 A preferred embodiment of the invention is also sized so as a player is capable of inserting it into a garment pocket for storage when not in use on the racket.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1A shows top view of the main body of the tennis ball retriever.
 FIG. 1B shows front view of the main body of the tennis ball retriever
 FIG. 1C shows back view of the main body of the tennis ball retriever with the hook portion of the hook and loop fastener system visible on the lower part of the body.
 FIG. 1D shows perspective view of the main body of the tennis ball retriever.
 FIG. 2A shows top view of the loop fastener strip with the loop portion of the hook and loop fastener system visible on the top part of the illustration.
 FIG. 2B shows front view of the loop fastener strip with the loop portion of the hook and loop fastener system visible on the face.
 FIG. 2C shows perspective view of loop fastener strip.
 FIG. 3 shows an exploded view of the tennis ball retriever, loop fastener, and tennis racket arranged in the order in which the device be put together.
 FIG. 4 shows an exploded view of the tennis ball retriever, loop fastener, and tennis racket with the loop fastener adhered to the frame of the racket.
 FIG. 5 shows the tennis ball retriever, loop fastener, and tennis racket all in fastened position
 FIG. 6 shows a view of the tennis racket in ready position with the retriever portion removed and the loop fastener visible on the head of the racket.
 FIG. 7 shows a view of the tennis racket in ready position with the retriever portion attached with the hook and loop fastener to the frame.
 FIG. 8-10 show a player using the tennis ball retriever to lift or scoop up a tennis ball from the playing surface.
 FIG. 11 shows the tennis ball retriever being peeled away from the loop fastener that is adhered to the frame of the tennis racket
 FIG. 12 shows a close up of a tennis ball that is resting in the retrieving area of the tennis ball retriever.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Preferred embodiment of the invention are shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, 2A-2C, whereby the retriever apparatus for retrieving tennis ball comprises: a retriever body with a thin curved form and recessed rim.
 In the illustrated embodiment a hook fastener strip is attached to the base of the retriever body, and a loop fastener strip affixed to the frame of the racket. The body is then removeably attached with the hook fastener strip onto the loop strip (commonly known as velcro) thereby affixing the retriever body to the racket frame. Once connected, the retriever body can act as a scoop thereof and hold a tennis ball when lifted. The invented device is preferably positioned at point located at the top center of the tennis racket head.
 In one preferred embodiment the retriever body has a length of about four and a half inches and a height of about two inches. In one preferred embodiment, the fastener has a length of about four and a half inches and a width of about three quarters of an inch. The retriever body is composed of a uniform cross section comprising a flexible sheet of material that can be repeatedly bent and struck without fracturing.
 In the preferred embodiment, the retriever body is a flexible plastic. However, the body can be comprised of any other material that can be repeatedly bent and struck without fracturing including but not limited to: polyethylene, polypropylene, vinyl, nylon, fiberglass, rubber, leather, various impregnated or laminated fibrous materials, various plasticized materials, cardboard, paper, etc.
 In reference to the drawings, it will be understood that the drawing merely illustrates one embodiment of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the embodiment specifically illustrated.
 Referring to of the main body of the tennis ball retriever illustrated in FIG. 1A (top view), FIG. 1B (front view), FIG. 1C (back view), and FIG. 1D (perspective view). Recessed rim 22 is shown in FIGS. 1A-1D which guides the tennis ball to the center of the retrieving body as a result of the concave shape.
 Referring to FIG. 1C, the back view body 10 has a hook fastener strip 12 affixed at the base of the body. Hook fastener strip 12 attaches to the body 10 by virtue of adhesive.
 FIGS. 1C and 2A-2CS show illustrative embodiment of a hook and loop fastener system comprising a hook fastener strip12, a loop fastener strip, 14, and adhesive strips 16 which attach the hook and loop fastener to their respective surfaces.
 One suitable hook and loop fastener is a double surface, indoor/outdoor, water resistant strip available from Velcro USA Inc. (Manchester, N.H.). However, the fastening means may be any other material or system that is capable of attaching the main body of the retriever to frame of the racket, such as a comparable type of hook and loop fastener, latch, clasp, magnet, cinch, snap, clip, etc.
 FIG. 3 illustrates an exploded viewpoint of the tennis ball retrieving device in the order the device be arranged and connected together onto the racket. FIG. 4 illustrates the loop fastener strip 14 affixed with the adhesive backing 16 to the racket frame 18. FIG. 5 illustrates the body 10 mounted onto the loop fastener 14 that is adhered to the racket 18.
 FIG. 6 illustrates the racket 18 being held and ready to use with the retriever removed and the loop fastener strip 14 in place. FIG. 7 illustrates the racket 18 being held and ready to use with the retriever 10 fastened to the racket. The player has the option of using the retriever or playing with the retriever removed. The position of the retriever is does not interfere with a ball if it is struck anywhere in the string area of the tennis racket.
 FIGS. 8-10 illustrate how the tennis ball retriever can be used to easily to retrieve the tennis ball off of the playing surface. The racket 18 is first placed against the tennis ball 20, the ball being positioned centered roughly in front of the retriever 10. The recessed rim 22 helps guide the tennis ball 20 to the center onto the retriever 10. As shown in FIG. 9-FIG. 10, the player then sweeps the racket, carrying the ball onto the retriever and raising it upwards in a single motion. The player has the option at this point to grab the ball off of the tennis racket or toss it into the air and catch the ball with the other hand.
 FIG. 11 illustrates how conveniently simple it is to attach and remove the retriever 10 from the loop fastener 14. The player merely peels the retriever 10 away from the loop fastener 14 that is adhered to the racket 18. FIG. 12 shows a close up illustration of the tennis ball 20 sitting in the retrieving area of the tennis ball retriever 10.
 The principle advantages of using the tennis ball retrieving device over previous methods is that the ball can be lifted off the playing surface in a single motion. The device is designed so that it is lightweight and thin enough so as to have any detrimental effect to the appearance of the racket or any detrimental effect during normal play. The design is also inexpensive to manufacture. The present inventor has built and extensively tested a prototype. A considerable advantage of this device is the ease of removing and reattaching the retriever onto the racket, which from testing the prototype, can be done in a matter of seconds. The device is also sized to be placed into the pocket of the player while not in use. Experience has shown that the optimum position of the tennis ball retrieving device is at the end of the head of frame of the racket, centered exactly at the top of the head of the frame. Another advantage is the surface area on the body of the retriever allows ample space for various aesthetic colors, designs, patterns, graphics, and logos to be applied which would be beneficial for commercial use.
 Although the preferred embodiment of the invention has been described in connection with tennis, the invention is applicable to other sports in which a player uses a racket. It will be recognized that the tennis ball retrieving device as illustrated and described represents an advance and simplification over the prior art in terms of commercial feasibility, design, aesthetic appearance, ease of operation and convenience of use. These many advantages and features are accomplished through the design and construction of the tennis ball retrieving device of which the foregoing described and illustrated embodiments are merely illustrative. Many variations of the design and adaptations can be made based upon the foregoing description. For example, the body of the retriever can have other shapes, such as circular, oval, trapezoidal, triangular, etc. The retriever can also be made with various colors, patterns, graphics, logos, signage, etc.; without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.