Title:
Method and apparatus for carrying racquet balls
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus for securing a racquet ball container, such as a typical tennis ball can, to a racquet or racquet cover. The container may protect the balls from external environmental conditions, such as moisture, dirt or ambient air pressure. The racquet cover may be arranged to at least partially cover only a single racquet, yet have a ball can removably secured.



Inventors:
Schultz, Marcella J. (Rye, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/935936
Publication Date:
03/10/2005
Filing Date:
09/08/2004
Assignee:
SCHULTZ MARCELLA J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/524, 473/553
International Classes:
A63B49/00; A63B60/58; (IPC1-7): A63B49/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REED SMITH LLP (P.O. BOX 488 (NYC), PITTSBURGH, PA, 15230-0488, US)
Claims:
1. A racquet and ball combination comprising: a racquet or racquet cover; one or more racquet balls that are adapted for use in a game played with the racquet; a container in which the one or more balls are carried; and a securing device that removably secures the container to the racquet or racquet cover.

2. The combination of claim 1, wherein the container protects the one or more racquet balls from external environmental conditions including moisture, dirt or ambient air pressure.

3. The combination of claim 1, wherein the container carries a plurality of balls.

4. The combination of claim 1, wherein the container is a ball can.

5. The combination of claim 1, wherein the container is a tennis ball can.

6. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes an elastic band that engages with the container and is attached to the racquet cover or racquet.

7. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a strap that engages with the container and is attached to the racquet cover or racquet.

8. The combination of claim 7, wherein the securing device includes a strap that encircles the container.

9. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a first portion of a hook-and-loop fastener attached to the racquet or racquet cover and a second portion of a hook-and-loop fastener attached to the container.

10. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes two engageable strap portions attached to the racquet or racquet cover, and wherein the two strap portions are adapted to extend around a portion of the container and engage with each other to secure the container to the racquet or racquet cover.

11. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a bar member attached to the racquet or racquet cover, the bar member carrying the container.

12. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a clip that engages with the racquet or racquet cover.

13. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a flexible band that engages with and at least partially conforms to the shape of the container.

14. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a pocket attached to the racquet or racquet cover into which the container is received.

15. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a first fastener that engages with the racquet or racquet cover, and a second fastener that engages with the container.

16. The combination of claim 15, wherein the first fastener is a clip, and the second fastener is a strap.

17. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a strap that engages with the container and first and second complementary portions of a hook-and-loop fastener, the first portion of the hook-and-loop fastener being attached to the racquet or racquet cover and the second portion of the hook-and-loop fastener being attached to the strap.

18. The combination of claim 1, wherein the securing device includes a strap that is made of a resilient material and only partially extends around the container to engage with the container.

18. The combination of claim 1, wherein the container includes a flexible pouch.

19. The combination of claim 1, wherein the container is secured to a racquet cover that is constructed and arranged to at least partially cover a single racquet, and wherein the securing device includes a pocket that is attached to the racquet cover into which the container is placed.

20. A method for securing a plurality of racquet balls to a racquet or racquet cover, the method comprising: providing a racquet or racquet cover; providing a plurality of racquet balls; providing the plurality of racquet balls in a container; and removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of providing a plurality of racquet balls in a container comprises providing a plurality of racquet balls in a ball can.

22. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover by way of a flexible band.

23. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises positioning a strap around a portion of the container and attaching the strap to the racquet or racquet cover.

24. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises securing the container by engaging a first portion of a hook-and-loop fastener attached to the racquet or racquet cover with a second portion of a hook-and-loop fastener attached to the container.

25. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises extending two strap portions around a portion of the container and engaging the two strap portions with each other to secure the container to the racquet or racquet cover.

26. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises attaching the container to a bar member attached to the racquet or racquet cover.

27. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises engaging a clip attached to the container with the racquet or racquet cover.

28. The method of claim 20, wherein the step of removably securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises engaging a flexible strap with the container, the flexible strap at least partially conforming to the shape of the container.

29. The method of claim 20 wherein the step of providing a racquet or racquet cover comprises providing a racquet cover constructed and arranged to at least partially cover only a single racquet and having a pocket attached to the cover, and the step of securing the container to the racquet or racquet cover comprises placing the container in the pocket.

30. A racquet and ball combination comprising: a racquet or racquet cover that is intended to at least partially cover only a single racquet; two or more racquet balls that are adapted for use in a game played with the racquet; a ball can in which the two or more balls are carried, the ball protecting the racquet balls from external environmental conditions including moisture, dirt or ambient air pressure; and a securing device that removably secures the ball can to the racquet or racquet cover.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/501,645, filed Sep. 10, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to methods and apparatus for carrying racquet balls, such as tennis balls, in conjunction with a racquet and/or racquet cover.

2. Related Art

Racquet balls, including tennis and racquetball balls, are generally sold in cans of two, three or more balls. Even in cases where the balls are particularly suited to a specific use, such as tennis balls intended for use on asphalt, grass or clay, the balls are usually sold in ball cans of generally the same shape. Such “ball cans” typically have a cylindrical shape, although other shapes are used.

Players commonly carry a ball can(s) in one hand and one or more racquets in another hand, thus leaving both hands occupied and the player unable to easily perform other tasks, such as carrying water or a towel. Other than large tennis bags, most tennis or other racquet covers do not have suitable pockets or other carrying pouch to carry balls or ball cans.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The inventor has appreciated the drawbacks of having to carry a racquet separately from one or more ball cans. Aspects of the invention allow a player to carry a racquet and/or racquet cover and one or more balls as a single unit, potentially freeing the player's hands for other purposes.

In one aspect of the invention, a racquet and ball combination includes a racquet or racquet cover, one or more racquet balls that are adapted for use in a game played with the racquet, a container in which the balls are carried, and a securing device that removably secures the container to the racquet or racquet cover.

The container may be a ball can or otherwise suitable to protect the balls from external environmental conditions, such as moisture, dirt or ambient air pressure. The racquet cover may be intended to at least partially cover only a single racquet, e.g., not be a large bag having one or more compartments suitable for housing a ball can.

In another aspect of the invention, a method for securing a plurality of racquet balls to a racquet or racquet cover includes providing a racquet or racquet cover, and providing a plurality of racquet balls. The balls are provided in a container, and the container is removably secured to the racquet or racquet cover.

In another aspect of the invention, a racquet and ball combination includes a racquet or racquet cover that is intended to at least partially cover only a single racquet, and one or more racquet balls that are adapted for use in a game played with the racquet. A ball can carries the one or more balls and protects the racquet balls from external environmental conditions including moisture, dirt or ambient air pressure. A securing device removably secures the ball can to the racquet or racquet cover.

These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent and/or obvious from the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Illustrative embodiments in accordance with the invention are described below with reference to the following drawings, in which like numerals reference like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a racquet ball container secured to a racquet cover in accordance with one aspect of the invention;

FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of a securing device including a strap securing a container to a racquet cover;

FIG. 3 shows another embodiment of a securing device including a strap used to secure a container to a racquet cover;

FIG. 4 shows a securing device including a clip;

FIG. 5 shows a securing device including a clip and a strap;

FIG. 6 shows a securing device including a pocket in which a container is placed;

FIG. 7 shows a securing device including a resilient strap that engages a container;

FIG. 8 shows a securing device including a clip, bar and straps;

FIG. 9 shows a securing device including a pouch to receive a container and/or loose balls; and

FIG. 10 shows a container secured to a racquet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various aspects of the invention are described below with reference to illustrative embodiments. However, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to those embodiments described below, but instead may be used in any suitable system or arrangement.

Aspects of the invention provide for the attachment of a plurality of racquet balls to a racquet or racquet cover. As used herein, a “racquet ball” is a ball suitable for use in a game in which the ball is hit with the racquet. “Racquet cover” refers to any suitable type of partial or complete covering for a racquet, including a tote bag, carry-all or other. A “ball can” is a type of container in which racquet balls may be housed and protected from external environmental conditions, including moisture, dirt or ambient air pressure. A ball can may have an approximately cylindrical shape or other suitable shape.

FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of a container 2 carrying a plurality of balls 3 secured to a racquet cover 1 by a securing device 4. In this illustrative embodiment, the container is attached to a carrying strap of the cover 1, but the container 2 may be attached to any suitable portion of the cover 1. The container 2 may take any suitable form for carrying the balls 3, e.g., be a ball can, and may be arranged so as to be removably attached to the cover 1 by the securing device 4. Also, the securing device 4 may attach the container 2 to a racquet instead of, or in addition to, its cover.

The securing device 4 may take any suitable form. For example, FIG. 2 shows a securing device 4 that includes a strap that wraps around the container 2 and a portion of the cover 1, in this case the carry strap of the cover 1. The strap 4 in this embodiment may include a continuous loop, such as an elastic band or sleeve that stretches to resiliently engage with the container 2 and the cover 1. That is, the strap 4 may in its relaxed state be sized somewhat smaller than the portion of the container 2 that the strap 4 will engage. When engaging the container 2, the strap 4 may be stretched to receive the container 2 and resiliently hold the container 2 to the carry strap or other portion of the cover 1. The strap 4 may loop around the carry strap of the cover 1 (or other cover portion), permanently attaching the strap 4 to the cover 1 and making the strap 4 is less likely to be separated from the cover and lost. This arrangement may allows the strap 4 and container 2 to be adjusted in position on the carry strap as desired by the player even after the container 2 is engaged with the strap 4.

The strap 4 may be flexible and/or resilient, or may be relatively rigid. Where the strap 4 is relatively rigid, the strap may have a shape that is similar to that of the container, e.g., have the form of a cylindrical or tapered sleeve. A receiving portion of the strap that receives the container 2 may be sized and/or shaped to frictionally engage with the container 2, in some cases relying on the compliance of the container 2 to produce a secure engagement. For example, when used with cylindrical ball cans, the strap 4 may include a circular shaped sleeve with a receiving portion that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the ball can. Thus, the ball can may be forced into the sleeve, frictionally engaging the ball can with the strap 4.

In another illustrative embodiment, the strap 4 may have separable end portions, e.g., strap may have the form of a blood-pressure cuff or belt. For example, the strap 4 may have two end portions that extend around a portion of the cover 1 (e.g., the carry strap) and the container 2. Complementary locking portions on the strap end portions, such as complementary hook-and-loop fastener elements, snaps, hook and ring fasteners, or other suitable arrangements may engage with each other to secure the ends together and secure the container 2 to the cover 1.

FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment in which a securing device 4 includes a strap that wraps around or encircles a container 2, but does not wrap around a portion of the cover 1. Instead, in this illustrative embodiment, the strap engages with the cover (e.g., its carry strap) by an alternative engagement, such by having a hook-and-loop fastener element, tie, strap, snap, clip, hook and ring fastener, adhesive, rivet or other suitable fastener engage with a portion of the cover. For example, the strap may be engaged with the container 2 and separately secured to the cover 1 by an exposed hook-and-loop fastener portion on the strap that engages with a complementary hook-and-loop fastener portion attached to the cover 1. Alternately, the strap may be sewn to the cover 1 and opposed strap end portions may be extended around the container 2 and be fastened together to attach the container to the cover 1. Although in this embodiment, the strap is attached to the carry strap of the cover 1, the strap may be attached to any suitable portion of the cover 1, such as a portion that covers the handle or ball-striking portion of the racquet.

FIG. 4 shows another illustrative embodiment in which at least a portion of the securing device 4 is permanently or semi-permanently attached to the container 2. For example, a clip or other suitable fastener 41 (e.g., one portion of a hook-and-loop fastener) may be permanently or semi-permanently attached to the container 2 and allow a player to removably secure the container to the cover 1 or racquet. In this illustrative embodiment, the fastener 41 may be glued, screwed, riveted, molded from plastic in unitary form with the container 2, or otherwise attached to the container 2. The fastener 41 may be secured to the cover 1 or racquet, e.g., by engaging a portion of a hook-and-loop fastener attached to the container 2 to a complementary portion of a hook-and-loop fastener attached to the cover 1 or racquet. As in other illustrative embodiments, the fastener 4 may engage with the carry strap or any other suitable portion of the cover 1 and/or the racquet. If the fastener is a clip as shown, the clip 4 may be a jaw-type clip having two jaws that are normally resiliently biased toward each other to engage with an object, a hanger-type clip as shown in FIG. 4, or any other suitable type. In accordance with this embodiment, racquet ball manufacturers may supply balls in containers 2 that are equipped to be removably secured to a racquet or cover 1 at the time of purchase by the player. That is, ball cans may be sold having a clip or other fastener secured to the can to enable a player to readily attach the can to a racquet or cover.

FIG. 5 shows an illustrative embodiment of a securing device having a fastener 41 and a belt-type strap 42. The fastener 41 may have any suitable arrangement to engage with a cover or racquet as discussed above. The belt-type strap 42 may be secured to the fastener 41 and have one end that carries a ring and an opposite end that passes through the ring and is cinched to tighten the strap on the container 2. A hook-and-loop fastener or other suitable arrangement may secure the loose end to another portion of the strap and maintain the strap engaged with the container.

FIG. 6 shows another illustrative embodiment in which a securing device includes a pocket 4 into which a container 2 is placed. In this embodiment, the pocket 4 is sewed or otherwise suitably secured to the cover 1, but the pocket may be removably attached to the cover 1 as well. The pocket 4 may have a flap, zipper or other closure so that the opening into which the container is inserted into the pocket may be closed, e.g., to help prevent the container from falling out of the pocket. It will be understood that the pocket may be arranged in any suitable orientation on the cover, and, like other securing device embodiments herein, may be arranged to accommodate two or more containers 2.

FIG. 7 shows another securing device that includes a resilient strap 4 that engages with a container 2. In this illustrative embodiment, the strap 4 may be made of plastic, metal or any other suitable material or combination of materials. The strap 4 may include a C-shaped cavity that is sized slightly smaller than the portion of the container 2 with which the strap engages. Thus, the container 2 may be snapped into place by forcing the container 2 between the two opposed free ends of the strap, which may flex outward to allow the container to pass. Once the container 2 is located inside of the opposed ends, the ends may flex inwardly to resiliently engage the container 2. In this illustrative embodiment, a portion of the cover 1 (e.g., the carry strap) may also be positioned within the cavity defined by the strap for receiving the container 2, and thus engagement of the container with the strap may also engage the cover with the strap. Alternately, the strap may have an attached clip, hook-and-loop fastener, snap or other suitable fastener to engage the strap with the cover and/or the racquet.

FIG. 8 shows another illustrative embodiment of a securing device that includes one or more clips or other fasteners 43 that secure a bar 44 to the racquet cover 1 or racquet. A container 2 is secured to the bar 44 by another set of fasteners 45, such as one or more straps as shown. As described above, the bar 44 may be secured to the cover 1 or racquet in any suitable way by ties, clips, or other fasteners 43, and likewise the container 2 may be secured to the bar 44 in any suitable way, such as by one or more flexible and/or elastic bands, ties, belts, resilient straps, pockets, etc. The bar 44 may make it easier for a player to engage a container 2 with the cover 1, e.g., by providing a convenient and relatively sturdy grasping area for the player to hold while attaching the container.

FIG. 9 shows another illustrative embodiment in which a pouch 46 is attached to a cover 1 or racquet. The pouch 46 may receive a container 2 and/or serve as a container for loose balls, and may have a closure, such as a drawstring, flap, zipper, etc. to help protect the balls from external environmental conditions and/or help prevent the balls from falling from the pouch 46. The pouch 46 may be pliable, e.g., made of a woven fabric, or may have a more rigid construction, e.g., similar to that of a typical tennis ball can. The pouch 46 may be secured to the cover 1 and/or racquet by any suitable arrangement, such as a strap, a hook-and-loop fastener, clip or other fastener 47 as discussed above.

FIG. 10 shows a container 2 secured to a racquet 1 by a securing device 4. Any suitable securing device 4 such as those described above may be used, and the container may be secured to any suitable portion of the racquet 1, such as at the handle, between the handle and ball-striking area as shown, or at the rim around the ball-striking area.

While the invention has been described with reference to various illustrative embodiments, the invention is not limited to the embodiments described. Thus, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications, and variations of the embodiments described will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, the securing device may be used to support items other than ball cans on a racquet or racquet cover, such as water bottles, cellular telephones, towels or other personal effects. Accordingly, embodiments of the invention as set forth herein are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Various changes may be made without departing from the invention.