After taking some time off this fall, I was getting back into playing and training hard. Unfortunately, I have not had good luck as for the last 3 weeks as I have had pretty bad plantar fasciitis. I had a mild case several years ago, but this is really uncomfortable and limits my movement. I’m trying to do different things to heal it, but I am always on my feet coaching. Hopefully, something will work to get me back doing what I love. In the mean time, I tried a few of the new racquets and have feedback on that as I’m sure many of you are looking at some of the newer racquets out there.
As some of you know, I have been using Head Radical racquets since I was in middle school. The first racquet I playtested this fall was the Prince Tour 98 ESP. I chose this racquet as it was a similar weight to my Radical and is also pretty flexy. I tend to like racquets that are not too stiff. I could definitely tell a difference in spin on my shots from the 16×16 string pattern! I had nice control in a very comfortable package, but felt I was just not quite getting enough sting on my serves and forehands that I am used to.
I then played with the new Wilson Six.One 95S. It is a smaller headsize than I’m used to, but that usually does not make much difference to me. This racquet also has a moderate amount of weight behind it and is a little stiffer. It has a 18×16 string pattern with extra mains compared to the traditional extra crosses. It is a crisp feeling racquet and I noticed good spin and a higher launch angle than I normally get with my strokes. The racquet had plenty of power but with good control, and was a good racquet to volley with, as most of the Six.One generations have been. It is a well rounded option and was possibly my favorite of the demos. One of my friends liked it immediately and will likely buy a few.
The next on my list was the Yonex VCore Xi 98. This racquet again has the specs that I usually look for, with a mid-11 ounce weight with a low swing weight, although with a 69 stiffness rating. This racquet has a 16×20 string pattern which is more what I am used to. I felt I was hitting with more control with this racquet, especially on my flat shots which I like to go for frequently. I actually really liked the way this racquet felt from the baseline — I will have to spend some more time with it again someday. It felt a bit too stiff for me, so I recommend going with low tensions or a softer string in racquets like these.
The last racquet I hit with recently was the new Head Graphene Radical MP. They discontinued my Oversize 107 model, which is disappointing to me. However, the MP is similarly made, and this year the string pattern is more open at 16×19 compared to the usual 18×20. This racquet, along with recent generations, is definitely stiffer than the older Flexpoint model I still use, and was much livelier. The Graphene, in a more polarized balance setup, is something I definitely noticed. I can see that I am hitting with more spin and hitting a heavier ball when I try to do so. The ball explodes off the racquet and can take some adjustment! The racquet has added to my serve speed as well, which is something I am looking for. I think this racquet could work really well with my game and help me in some ways if I can dial down the string setup to give a bit more feel. Though I liked the Wilson 95S, the Head racquet is the closest to my current racquet, and will probably be my choice going into 2014. Although the new Babolat Pure Strike and Pure Control look interesting…
I have to miss a big tournament coming up this weekend because of my foot (Robert Kendrick is playing), so I am very disappointed. Hopefully I can heal fast and give you some training updates for some winter tournaments!
Thanks again everyone.