Keeping Up With the Playtesters…Winter Olympics Edition

Here at Tennis Warehouse we are anxiously counting down the days until the BNP Paribas tournament in Indian Wells! So to pass the time until then, we are keeping tabs on the ATP and WTA tournaments going on, but have also found ourselves fixated on the Winter Olympics around here! You may have heard the shriek from our office that we let out when we watched Shaun White’s two runs in the Half Pipe the other day! Not to mention, we have all been rocking some red, white and blue apparel and are learning about new athletes, not to mention we are intrigued by the winter sports and determined to try and perfect them ourselves.

So I asked some of my fellow playtesters 3 questions about this year’s Winter Olympics:

  • Favorite Winter Olympic Sport to watch?
  • Favorite Olympic Athlete?
  • If you could compete in any winter sport, what would it be?

Check out their answers and be sure to check out some of our patriotic gear!


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Keeping Up With The Playtesters…

It is playtest season here at Tennis Warehouse! Which means we are furiously playtesting new racquets daily! Which brings about this week’s question for my fellow playtesters,

“If you can’t use your ‘go-to’ racquet of choice, what racquet will you use?”

Here’s how they answered…
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Keeping Up With the Playtesters

I always get a bit bummed the couple days after a Grand Slam ends. For two weeks straight I had hours on end of awesome tennis to watch (good thing Davis Cup is back in action this weekend), and now football is the only thing I see when I turn on the TV (which, isn’t a bad thing, go Niners, it just isn’t tennis!). Anyway, to recap our US Open picks, my picks were knocked out by the 4th or 5th day of the US Open, while Karly and Jason were the only two playtesters who called the US Open 2013 Champions — and Tiffani was oh, so close with her Gasquet pick! This week, since I don’t have any live tennis to watch today, I decided to bug my fellow playtesters and ask them,

“Who from the WTA or ATP would play doubles with? (We already answered the mixed doubles question, so stay within your gender on this one!)”

Check out their answers! Continue reading

Keeping Up With the Playtesters…Round 4

This week I wanted to ask the Tennis Warehouse playtesters about some of the rituals they have during tournaments. With such varrying styles of tennis, it is interesting to see the similarities and differences between each of our playtesters!

So when asked,

“Where can you usually be found during the 5 minutes prior to a tournament match?”

Here is how our playtesters answered…(If you have any questions for the playtesters, email them to:
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Keeping Up with the Playtesters…round 3!

This week I wanted to know what items the playtesters have been favoring over the summer months. If you have a question you want answered by the playtesters, be sure to email us and let us know what you would ask the playtesters! (

TW Playtester Favorites - Summer Edition

Check out what our TW Playtesters had to say when asked,

What is your favorite tennis related item or accessory this summer? Continue reading

Keeping Up With the Playtesters…round 2!

This week’s question is a fun one. As you may or may not know, our playtesters are a competitive bunch, so check out how they answered when asked,

If you could pick anyone from the ATP/WTA to play MIXED doubles with, who would you pick and why?!

photos courtesy of Cynthia Lum

photos courtesy of Cynthia Lum

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Keeping Up with the Playtesters!

Welcome to the first installment of Keeping Up with the Playtesters!

Everything you ever wanted to know (and more) from our team of playtesters at Tennis Warehouse. Feel free to email in any questions ( you have and want answered, whether it be about equipment, apparel, court rituals, tennis, etc.!

So let’s get to it!

Question: What is your favorite pump-up/pre-match song?
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Meet the Playtesters- Michelle Heidbrink

We are back!

I have a special blog on the newest member of our TW Playtesting Team, Michelle Heidbrink! Michelle played college tennis at the University of New Mexico and followed that up with an Assistant Coaching position there. Michelle is currently an Assistant Web Editor here at Tennis Warehouse. She has just started playtesting racquets, strings, and shoes so keep an eye out for her on reviews. You can find her first video appearance in our LoveMatch video. Check out her interview below.

Click Here to View Video

Click Here to View Video

How long have you been a playtester: 2013
Racquet of Choice: Babolat Pure Drive
String of Choice: Kirschbaum Spiky Black Shark 16
Shoe of Choice: Babolat Propulse 4
Apparel of Choice: Nike

When/Why did you start playing tennis?
I started playing tennis when I was 5. My parents had just bought a weekend condo in Palm Springs and decided to take up tennis, so they got an hour lesson with the local pro, they took the first 30 minutes, while I got the second half of the lesson. The rest is history! I started tournaments at age 8 and have loved it ever since!

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Britt’s Playtester Spotlight- Mark Boone

Hope everyone has recovered from their Thanksgiving break! Mark Boone is my next victim playtester I got to interview. I keep Mark very busy playtesting racquets, shoes, and strings.

Hours Spent Playtesting this week

7 hours
Playtesters you hit with: Troy Lara, Spencer, Sean Hemmer, Mike Marquez
Type of Playtesting (singles, doubles, drills): sets of doubles, singles cross court patterns, singles 11-point service games, singles 10-point tie breakers
Playtesting Court: TW indoor, SLO high outdoor courts

What racquets are you playtesting?

Wlson BLX Steam 99S, upcoming Dunlop racquet

I am working with the new Wilson BLX Steam 99S, and playing quite a bit with an upcoming Dunlop racquet. The Steam 99S is a top notch frame with a very open string pattern. The example we have been swinging has the Luxilon 4G poly in the low 50 pound range of tension. As is; I love it for the most part. I am perhaps a more accomplished table tennis player than tennis player, and this racquet lets me play a more ping pong style. The ball comes off the strings differently than all of my other frames, which tend to be heavier, and with dense patterns. Forget what I have to say about it, the reality came in the form of comments from other players who I often hit with. They all agreed that my ground strokes were more effective; with crazy angled, spin shots/ very ping pong like. The only knock I can give this frame is a subjective one; it was a bit too light on serve, being in the low 11 ounce range. I was effective on the ground/ volley attack, but my serve was attackable.

The upcoming Dunlop racquet has the specifications that are right in my range. It was paired with an yet to be released poly from ISOSPEED called Black Fire, which was in the low 50 pound range of tension as well. I thought it felt like RPM Blast, but smoother around the edges. I use the Head Prestige MP for the most part, and this frame is a seamless transition for me. No frame makes my second serve any better, but this one does complement my entire game.

Editor’s note: Mark just gave you another sneak peek of the new Steams that will pre-sale January 1, 2013. In addition, find out more information on the upcoming Dunlop racquet in the next month.

What shoes are you playtesting?

adidas adizero CC Feather II

Traditionally, me and light shoes are not too compatible. I wear though shoes pretty quickly, so I stick to the sole warranty variety. I consider a shoe that is under 15 ounces to be light, so I believed that I would go through these like a hot knife through butter. Not the case; the new adidas adizero CC Feather II’s are lighter than 15 ounces, and adidas has walked the fine line between the shoe’s upper being too stiff, or flimsy. It has become my favorite light weight tennis shoe, as it delivers the stability that the heavier shoes provide, better than average durability, and top notch comfort, which I thought to be previously impossible to combine.

Editor’s note: The adidas adizero CC Feather II will be available for pre-sale on Dec. 14, 2012.

What strings are you playtesting/hitting with?

ISOSPEED Black Fire 16

Currently, I am not testing any strings, but since the ISOSPEED Black Fire is not yet available, and I played with it for several sessions, I can give somewhat of a review on it. As I mentioned above; the Black Fire in the upcoming Dunlop racquet played great. The Black Fire felt great for several hours of play, easily grabbed a hold of the ball, and maintained its tension, so I definitely will add this string to my list of favorite’s.

Editor’s Note: The ISOSPEED Black Fire 16 will be available on December 21, 2012.

Thanks for reading this week’s installment. Check back next week where I interview Tiffani and she will give you some sneak peaks on more upcoming racquets.

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Britt’s Playtester Spotlight- Andy Gerst

Up next we have Andy. Andy is playtesting a wide assortment of tennis goods from racquets and shoes to strings and something extra special for November. Let’s check in with our newest playtester and see how he is doing.

Hours Spent Playtesting this week: 10
Playtesters you hit with: Chris, Siobhan, Brittany
Type of Playtesting (singles, doubles, drills): All of the above
Playtesting Court: Mostly the TW Indoor Court

Wilson Blade 93 2013 Racquet

What racquets are you playtesting?
Wilson Blade 93, 98 16×19 and 18×20, Babolat AeroPro Drive and AeroPro Drive Plus, Wilson Steam 99 S

One of my favorite things about being here at TW is trying all the new equipment, and all of the new racquets I’ve been playtesting recently have been awesome. The new Wilson Blade line was much improved from previous versions, and the racquets are just solid all-around player’s frames. The 93 has the best feel of them all, and I think Wilson has created a “modern classic” midsize racquet with it. It’s got the great control and feel that you want from a midsize, but with just enough pop and crispness to stack up against the modern game. The 98s are also great feeling, too, with the 18×20 version being my favorite of the two. They replicate the great feel of the 93, but with a larger head you get a bigger sweetspot and more forgiveness.

The Babolat AeroPro Drives were a surprise for me. I’ve always considered myself a bit of “purist” when it comes to racquet technology, so I have steered clear of Babolat racquets in the past, preferring the more classic, smaller player’s frames. However, from the instant I started hitting with these, I realized what all the fuss was about. Tons of power, spin and forgiveness from all over the court, and the new versions of these racquets with the Active Cortex dampening technology gave them more feel and comfort than past versions. These have quickly become two of my favorite racquets to hit, with the slight edge going to the extended length version.

If the AeroPro Drive’s were a surprise, the new Wilson Steam 99S blew my mind! This one is definitely a game changer! The extreme 16×15 string pattern lends itself to unmatched (and I mean unmatched!) spin potential. I feel like I can totally swing out on the ball, and it always drops in the court like a pelican hunting for fish in the ocean. They have a crisp, yet comfortable feel, and provide more than enough control from all areas of the court. As people start trying these racquets I think they are going to be the new craze in the tennis world!

Editor’s note: Andy just gave you another sneak peek of the Babolat AeroPro Drive and AeroPro Drive+. They go on pre-sale Nov. 23. The new Steams will pre-sale Jan. 1, 2013. The Wilson Blades are currently available for pre-sale.

What shoes are you playtesting?
adidas adizero CC Feather II

Currently I’ve got my feet into the new adidas adizero CC Feather IIs, scheduled to be released in spring 2013. These are great! They are super lightweight, and with the ClimaCool addition they have awesome ventilation, too. But even as speed-oriented shoes, they provide more than enough support and stability for aggressive movement. I just started playing with them last week, so I don’t have much to offer on the durability side, but if they are anything like the previous version they should hold up just fine.

Editor’s note The adidas adizero CC Feather II will be available for pre-sale on Dec. 15, 2012.

What strings are you playtesting?
Luxilon ALU Power 16L, Head prototype

Ah, my favorite thing to playtest!  We’ve been playtesting the ever popular ALU Power in different colors and at different tensions, and this remains one of my favorite strings ever! I tend to prefer the shaped polyesters for added bite on the ball, but when it comes to a standard round-shaped poly, it doesn’t get any better! It’s got a crisp, lively yet comfortable feel with just the right amount of feel and control. Ah, perfection! Look for that review to come out in the next couple weeks.

My boy, and resident string expert Jonathan (or J-Dub), likes to throw random polys my way, and this week he’s given me a Head prototype string, which I’m really liking! He won’t spill any more info, so I don’t know what it is, when/if it’s coming out, or who’s endorsing it, but all I know is I’m a fan!  It’s a grey-ish color and shaped, and provides a really nice lively, comfortable feel. I’m thinking Tourna Big Hitter Black 7, but not quite as rigid feeling (as I think it has only five sides compared to the Tourna’s seven). I hope Head gets good enough feedback from people to put this one into mass production.

Movember Mustache

Are you playtesting anything else?
Movember mustache

The only other item I’m playtesting currently is my Movember mustache, which I think is a great addition to my game. It flutters in the wind to provide a little more propulsion when running down Chris’s drop shots, and then when I jump in the air it flares out like Batman’s cape, allowing me to get a little extra hang time on my jumping overheads. More importantly, it’s MAN-tastic!

Editor’s Note: (Un)fortunately, this playtest will end at the end of November.

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