The Ultimate Guide to Tennis Racquets
There are many options when it comes to racquets. Some of the most popular companies that make racquets are Wilson, Babolat, and Head. (I personally have always used either Wilson or Babolat racquets) Each year these companies are producing new makes and models, updating features, and adding new technology to try to stay in the forefront of the marketing blitz. With so many options, it can be difficult to find the right one. What racquet should you test out? What racquet should you buy? With this guide to tennis racquets, my goal is to provide a little insight into the features that you may see and some of the top racquets on the market. All of these recommendations are based on my own experience and yours may be different, but hopefully this will help you find a good starting place.
So let’s dive in! Let’s start with some of the different racquet terminology.
Racquet Head Size: This refers to the size of the head of the racquet (the part that has the strings in it) in square inches. The bigger the head size the easier it is make contact with the ball. The average racquet head size is about 100 square inches. Anything smaller than this is geared more for an advanced player and anything bigger than this is geared more towards a beginner player.
Racquet Weight: Self explanatory but a medium racquet weight is 11oz unstrung. As you start getting heavier than 11oz that is getting towards the heavy end of the spectrum. 11.5oz racquets and up would be considered heavy and anything less than 10.6oz would be considered light.
Grip Size: This refers to the size of the grip – and would be something like 4 and ⅜ inches which is a very common grip size. 4 and ¼ would be a smaller grip size and 4 and ½ would be or 4 and ⅝ would be a bigger grip size.
Baseliner Racquet: From the Wilson.com website: “Designed for players who battle from the baseline. Baseliners win with consistency and patience and like to move laterally to run down balls. However, when they get a short ball, they are not afraid to step inside the baseline to hit through the court and their opponent. They base their game around their groundstrokes and want a racket that accelerates their power.” This is a great summary of a baseliner and the racquet they should be using.
Attacker Racquet: From the Wilson.com website: “Designed for players who play aggressively and want a racket that controls their own power. Attackers want to take the ball early and on the rise and step inside the baseline when they get a short ball to hit big for a winner. They have command of their shots and look to control the point and dictate play. Attackers are confident moving both forward and laterally on the court.” The attacking player needs a racquet that is geared for finishing points at the net with volleys and overheads.
All Courter Racquet: From the Wilson.com website: “Designed for players who have a balance in how they play their game and play a mix of doubles and singles. This frequent player plays competitively on a team and hits shots from all corners of the court. They want a racket that is maneuverable, powerful, and comfortable to be able to master all their shots and make the game more fun to play.” The all court player needs a racquet that is solid in all areas of the court.
Recreational Racquet: These racquets are usually lighter and easily maneuverable to help players who are learning tennis. The racquet head size on these racquets tend to be bigger.
Junior Racquet: These racquets have a shorter length than normal sized racquets and are made for younger, smaller players and are thus appropriately sized.
Racquet Tension: When you get your racquet strung you must choose a tension to string the racquet at. The tension you get it strung at is how tightly the machine pulls the string. The string tension you should use varies depending on the type of string you use. For a polyester string: 45-50lbs. For a hybrid string: 50-55lbs. For a synthetic gut or gut string: 55-57lbs.
String Pattern: This refers to the pattern that the strings make in the racquet. If you have an 18×20 string pattern this means there are 18 mains (strings that are going up and down) and 20 crosses (strings that are going right and left). The more strings there are in the pattern the more control you will get with the racquet. 18×20 is on the tight end of the string pattern spectrum. 16×20 or 16×18 is in the middle of the spectrum and would give you medium control and medium power. Any pattern less than 16×18 would be on the loose end of the spectrum and would give you a lot of power and less control.
Here are a few options from: Wilson
This racquet is designed for “baseliners” who like to hit a lot of groundstrokes and gives the player more power and less control. This racquet is powerful and relatively light. This is a good racquet for younger adults starting to play tennis with a 100 sq. in. head size giving you more room to hit the ball with than the classic 95 sq. in. racquet heads.
This racquet has a medium weight to it and is geared towards higher level “attacking” players. The attributes of this racquet help with volleys, overheads, and finishing shots. With an 18×20 string pattern this racquet provides a player with a lot of control and less power. This racquet does not have a lot of power so anybody playing with it needs to be strong enough to handle it.
The Pro Staff has been around for many years and has undergone many different modifications. Throughout the years it has been one of the most popular racquets but as the technology continues to improve this racquet is not as popular as it once was. This frame is geared for high level attacking players and is not as easy racquet to play with compared to some other racquets. It requires a great deal of strength and timing with the smaller racquet head size. If you are an advanced player that is strong with good timing this is an option for you.
This is a new racquet from Wilson that is a great option for all court players. This racquet falls in the middle of the spectrum on power and control aiding the player in all parts of the court.
This is a great racquet for a recreational or beginner player. With a large racquet head size of 118 square inches, a light 9.1oz, and a loose 16×19 string pattern this racquet helps the player create easy power and easy contact with the ball.
Here are some options from: Babolat
Also light and powerful the Pure Drive is one of the most popular racquets ever made. Easy to maneuver and flexible, this is a great racquet to start playing tennis with. The stronger and higher level you get you may find this too much power but for players who are not as strong this is a great option. The team is a lighter version
This racquet provides medium control and a high amount of power and the ability to create spin. This is a good racquet for all level of players.
This racquet is one of the most popular racquets around and for good reason. It provides great control for a player while still giving the player a good amount of power and pop on the ball. This racquet is for an all court player.
Here are some options from: Head
This racquet is light with medium power. Most beginners would have no problem with the weight of this racquet.
This is a high quality racquet for an advanced player offering great control. The thin beam offers some control and precision.
This is a racquet geared towards all court players who are looking to hit big groundstrokes. This is a little more player friendly than the Prestige Pro.
Depending on age, height/strength, and court size that a young player plays on will determine what length racquet they should use. Here is a chart with some general guidelines for racquet size* (Note* this is general, there are always differing scenarios that this wouldn’t apply. Scenarios like exceptional level, strength, or height are a few that come to mind)
12 & Older: adult size/27in.
If the child is playing on a 36ft. Red ball court then they must use a racquet that is 23in or shorter. It is not allowed to use a racquet with a longer length if they play in a sanctioned tournament.
If the child is playing on a 60ft. Orange ball court then they must use a racquet that is 25in. or shorter. It is not allowed to use a racquet with a longer length if they play in a sanctioned tournament.
If a child is playing on a 78ft. full length court in either green or yellow ball it is recommended to use a 26in. racquet or a full sized 27in. racquet.
Once you have tested out the racquet that you like and want to buy, now you need to find the best price. First check with your local tennis shop(club, tennis center, or local tennis store) and see if they are running any specials or deals that you can take advantage of. Next check on the racquet company’s website to see what the retail price is to compare. Next check on websites like www.tennisexpress.com or www.tenniswarehouse.com to see what price they have on the racquet that you want. Make sure you check all of these locations to find the best price/deal available!
This wraps up our Ultimate Guide to Tennis Racquets. If you have any questions about racquets or need a suggestion please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @LaunchTennis and I would be happy to help!
Head Coach at Launch Tennis