Was there a lot of difference between Borg's Bancroft and Donnay frames?

galain

Hall of Fame
Just curious - was watching some of his US Open matches and although I know he was contracted to Bancroft outside of Europe, it still seems strange to see him without his Donnay. I was wondering if anyone here could compare how they played.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Just curious - was watching some of his US Open matches and although I know he was contracted to Bancroft outside of Europe, it still seems strange to see him without his Donnay. I was wondering if anyone here could compare how they played.
He definitely used the same racquet all the time. So his Bankroft was a pj of his main stick - Donnay. The same was with Nastase when he was signed by Adidas, he continued to play with Dunlop Maxply with Adidas pj.
 

jorjipy

Rookie
I am not convinced he didnt use Bancrofts ....I see a different shape in the head between the Bancrofts and the Donnays in pics of Borg supposedly playing a PJ

As for the actual racquets, I have the 3 main ones, and play with them regularly

Donnay Allwood - just a standard regular wood racquet, nothing special about it

Bancroft Borg - a heavy duty and very solid wood racquet, a baseliner's racquet

Donnay Borg Pro - way stiffer than a regular wood racquet, probably less feel than any wood racquet I have tried, very powerful for its day ( probably the most powerful single-shafted wood racquet ever)
 

Ultra 2

Professional
His personal model may have been the same (Bancroft & Donnay), I highly doubt the retail versions of the Donnay Borg Pro and the Bancroft Borgs were the same. The Bancroft has a much more thicker beam than the Donnay. The Donnay had a much more flatter beam.
 
There were rumors that the ones he actually used had extra plies of wood in the hoop to withstand his unusually high tensions. True or not--I don't know.
 

Sanglier

Semi-Pro
There were rumors that the ones he actually used had extra plies of wood in the hoop to withstand his unusually high tensions. True or not--I don't know.
Michel Guilluy, who knows all there is to know about Donnay, wrote that Borg's custom-made "Allwood" frames did indeed have an extra ply in them in order to better withstand the high tension that he liked.

Between 1975 and 1979, Donnay produced 2 special lots of these frames every year, each consisting of 400 frames, out of which 25 were selected for their exact weight and balance and gripped in accordance with Borg's preference by José Thiry. These were then set aside to air-dry for 6 months before being delivered to Borg, who was known to become apoplectic if the frames came out 3 grams too heavy due to excess moisture, or if the grip was 1 mm too thick. Given Borg's legendary neurosis over racquet consistency, it seems highly unlikely that he would play with one kind of racquet in Europe and a (moderately) different one in the US. I'm inclined to agree with @BorgCash that Bancroft's sponsorship dollars probably earned them nothing more than a paint job; which did little to slow down their demise as a racquet maker.

Interestingly, Guilluy wrote that Colgate-Palmolive, which owned Bancroft, nearly bought Donnay in 1978, but the growing fear of job loss by Donnay's factory workers ultimately pressured Donnay to back out of the deal at the last possible second; which may or may not have hastened Colgate-Palmolive's decision to shutter Bancroft's US factory sometime thereafter.

Borg was not the only link between these two ill-fated racquet makers in their final act!
 

jorjipy

Rookie
You would think with Borg being all over the media ( Laver Cup for example) someone would just ask him for us.....was it a real Bancroft or not?

Is he on twitter? Can someone ask him, please....?
 

jm1980

G.O.A.T.
Michel Guilluy, who knows all there is to know about Donnay, wrote that Borg's custom-made "Allwood" frames did indeed have an extra ply in them in order to better withstand the high tension that he liked.

Between 1975 and 1979, Donnay produced 2 special lots of these frames every year, each consisting of 400 frames, out of which 25 were selected for their exact weight and balance and gripped in accordance with Borg's preference by José Thiry. These were then set aside to air-dry for 6 months before being delivered to Borg, who was known to become apoplectic if the frames came out 3 grams too heavy due to excess moisture, or if the grip was 1 mm too thick. Given Borg's legendary neurosis over racquet consistency, it seems highly unlikely that he would play with one kind of racquet in Europe and a (moderately) different one in the US. I'm inclined to agree with @BorgCash that Bancroft's sponsorship dollars probably earned them nothing more than a paint job; which did little to slow down their demise as a racquet maker.

Interestingly, Guilluy wrote that Colgate-Palmolive, which owned Bancroft, nearly bought Donnay in 1978, but the growing fear of job loss by Donnay's factory workers ultimately pressured Donnay to back out of the deal at the last possible second; which may or may not have hastened Colgate-Palmolive's decision to shutter Bancroft's US factory sometime thereafter.

Borg was not the only link between these two ill-fated racquet makers in their final act!
Donnay is still making racquets
 

Sanglier

Semi-Pro
Donnay is still making racquets
Today's Donnay has no continuity with the original Belgian company based in Couvin, which went belly-up in 1988. The regional government of Wallonia was a major debt holder and had a controlling stake in the brand's fate for the next 28 years. They made an effort to revive the brand in the 90s but had no lasting success, and finally decided to sell the name and trademark to the current owners just two years ago.

Other than the logo, there is nothing in common between today's Donnay and the one that made the "Borg Pro".
 

vsbabolat

G.O.A.T.
Today's Donnay has no continuity with the original Belgian company based in Couvin, which went belly-up in 1988. The regional government of Wallonia was a major debt holder and had a controlling stake in the brand's fate for the next 28 years. They made an effort to revive the brand in the 90s but had no lasting success, and finally decided to sell the name and trademark to the current owners just two years ago.

Other than the logo, there is nothing in common between today's Donnay and the one that made the "Borg Pro".
Its my understanding that in 1996 Sports direct bought Donnay from Wallonia Government. Pulled out of Couvin and made Donnay an inhouse-brand of Sports Direct and licensing the Donnay name out to the Choe brothers from Long Island.
 

Sanglier

Semi-Pro
Its my understanding that in 1996 Sports direct bought Donnay from Wallonia Government. Pulled out of Couvin and made Donnay an inhouse-brand of Sports Direct and licensing the Donnay name out to the Choe brothers from Long Island.
It was apparently a little more complicated than that, VS. Someone with an actual understanding of Belgian bankruptcy laws will have to chime in to really demystify this for us, but the liquidation of Donnay after its 1988 bankruptcy filing did not close until 2016. As public funds were a big part of the debt, and many former Donnay employees were owed money when they lost their job (which they would not receive unless and until the case was closed), the government of Wallonia had an interest and a responsibility in the matter until the very end, even though they only played a passive role in that effort to revive the brand in the 90s. The whole process was a bit of a mess and an embarrassment for the government, albeit a relatively minor one in the grand scheme of things, since hardly anyone knew or remembered what the heck was going on 28 years after the initial catastrophe.
 

coachrick

Hall of Fame
Michel Guilluy, who knows all there is to know about Donnay, wrote that Borg's custom-made "Allwood" frames did indeed have an extra ply in them in order to better withstand the high tension that he liked.

Between 1975 and 1979, Donnay produced 2 special lots of these frames every year, each consisting of 400 frames, out of which 25 were selected for their exact weight and balance and gripped in accordance with Borg's preference by José Thiry. These were then set aside to air-dry for 6 months before being delivered to Borg, who was known to become apoplectic if the frames came out 3 grams too heavy due to excess moisture, or if the grip was 1 mm too thick. Given Borg's legendary neurosis over racquet consistency, it seems highly unlikely that he would play with one kind of racquet in Europe and a (moderately) different one in the US. I'm inclined to agree with @BorgCash that Bancroft's sponsorship dollars probably earned them nothing more than a paint job; which did little to slow down their demise as a racquet maker.

Interestingly, Guilluy wrote that Colgate-Palmolive, which owned Bancroft, nearly bought Donnay in 1978, but the growing fear of job loss by Donnay's factory workers ultimately pressured Donnay to back out of the deal at the last possible second; which may or may not have hastened Colgate-Palmolive's decision to shutter Bancroft's US factory sometime thereafter.

Borg was not the only link between these two ill-fated racquet makers in their final act!
That is quite a read!!! As I was part of the retail end of the industry as well as a sales rep(Rossignol,Dunlop, Kennex, Yonex, Puma) over many of those years, it's interesting to look back at what "could have been". Could Bancroft have survived with a Borg "exclusive" or were too many other factors at play? Would the "B" logo on the strings make more sense to the casual shopper? Would it have made any real difference that Bancroft had manufacturing facilities in the USA? Were Bancroft and Davis doomed before/because of their history in wood(and apparent reluctance to move into composites)? How about Spalding? How did Wilson make the transition and Snauwaert not? Dang...too many questions!!!
 

Ultra 2

Professional
That is quite a read!!! As I was part of the retail end of the industry as well as a sales rep(Rossignol,Dunlop, Kennex, Yonex, Puma) over many of those years, it's interesting to look back at what "could have been". Could Bancroft have survived with a Borg "exclusive" or were too many other factors at play? Would the "B" logo on the strings make more sense to the casual shopper? Would it have made any real difference that Bancroft had manufacturing facilities in the USA? Were Bancroft and Davis doomed before/because of their history in wood(and apparent reluctance to move into composites)? How about Spalding? How did Wilson make the transition and Snauwaert not? Dang...too many questions!!!
This got me thinking.. I don't believe any of the wood-centric tennis companies (donnay/bancroft/snauwaert) would have survived due to the superiority of carbon composites. IMHO Borg's sudden exit from the sport served as the final nail in coffin for these companies as he was the last to find success with such a beautiful weapon. Johnny Mac then decided to punch another nail into that said coffin by switching over to the Max 200G from his forts. It really was an arms race towards the better material.. Prince, Wilson and Kennex won (initially), with Head adapting soon thereafter. Donnay did find some success though in the Graphite market. The Pro Cynetic 1 is a great stick, and we all know about Agassi's Pro one and its adventures. Sadly the artisans of the maple/ash sandwich makers fought the good fight and eventually lost.

Spalding suffered a similar fate with branding issues and other poor business decisions as AMF Voit. All I see these days from the former is the NBA Basketball (and some other inflatables), and the latter Liga MX Soccer Balls.
 

max

Legend
I am not convinced he didnt use Bancrofts ....I see a different shape in the head between the Bancrofts and the Donnays in pics of Borg supposedly playing a PJ

As for the actual racquets, I have the 3 main ones, and play with them regularly

Donnay Allwood - just a standard regular wood racquet, nothing special about it

Bancroft Borg - a heavy duty and very solid wood racquet, a baseliner's racquet

Donnay Borg Pro - way stiffer than a regular wood racquet, probably less feel than any wood racquet I have tried, very powerful for its day ( probably the most powerful single-shafted wood racquet ever)
I remember hitting with the Borg Pro, perhaps around 1979, and, yeah, it WAS stiffer than the average Jack Kramer! Got one hanging on the wall behind me.
 
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