Best tennis racquets of 2015

The Tennis Warehouse playtesters are choosing their favorite gear of 2015 after a year of reviews. Today they weigh in on their favorite racquets of the year.

Yonex EZONE DR 98 and 100

Yonex EZONE DR 98 and 100

Considering the popularity of the EZONE Ai models, it comes as no surprise that Yonex scored well with the EZONE DR 98 and EZONE DR 100. Three playtesters chose an EZONE DR model as their favorite of 2015.

Andy on the Yonex EZONE DR 98: “Yonex took a racquet that was already my favorite on the market and made it EVEN BETTER!”

Brittany on the EZONE DR 100: “The update to my racquet of choice was excellently executed. Great combination of power and control, and I loved the spin potential and feel!”

Jason couldn’t pick just one, also choosing a Wilson Ultra model: “Yonex Ezone DR 100 or Wilson Ultra 100. The Yonex DR version offers a bit more stability than the Ai model, which is already my racquet of choice. It feels like my weighted up version without the additional weight added. And the Wilson Ultra 100 was a real surprise to me. It felt great from the get-go. Maneuverable, plenty of pop, spin friendly. What’s not to like?”

Babolat Pure Drive Plus Tour and the Pure Aero Tour

Babolat Pure Drive Plus Tour and the Pure Aero Tour

A longtime favorite, Babolat’s Aero line received an update this year, and the Pure Aero Tour in particular caught attention from our review squad.

Both Mark and Chris chose the Babolat Pure Aero Tour. Chris: “Rock solid stability, great power and exceptional spin. What’s not to like!? Every time I pick up this heavier version of the Pure Aero it feels like a natural fit for my game.”

Not to be ignored, the Pure Drive line also garnered a vote for its powerful response. Troy on his choice, the Babolat Pure Drive Tour Plus: “This racquet packs a ton of power, especially on serves! I love the extended length handle for my two-handed backhand and added range on my returns. The added mass in this Tour version satisfies my craving for plowthrough in a racquet. I really enjoy how this 2015 update, with the FSI string pattern, amped up the control to tame this beast of a racquet!”

Prince Textreme Tour 95 and the 100P were staff picks.

Prince Textreme Tour 95 and the 100P were staff picks.

Prince’s Textreme line also drew plenty of praise from the TW playtesters. Two players switched to the Textreme Tour 95 this year.

Sebastian: “My current racquet of choice is the Prince Textreme Tour 95 because of its solid and control-oriented feel. I also appreciate the overall comfort I get out of this Prince racquet. To maximize the performance of my racquet of choice, I would string it with a hybrid setup. To get the best possible blend of power, spin and feel, I would use Babolat RPM Blast 17 gauge in the mains and Babolat VS 16 gauge in the crosses.”

Karly: “I can’t say enough good things about the Prince Textreme Tour 95 — it’s a traditional playing racquet with extreme amounts of control, comfort, stability and maneuverability.”

Tiffani was also a fan of the Textreme Tour racquets, making the Textreme Tour 100P her pick: “I synced so quickly with this racquet. The racquet is comfortable on my arm, and the balance of power and control is just the right mix for my game. I just feel more confident during points when I’m playing with this racquet.”

Wilson Blade 98 16x19, Wilson Ultra 100, Wilson Pro Staff 97S

Wilson Blade 98 16×19, Wilson Ultra 100, Wilson Pro Staff 97S

Jason chose the Wilson Ultra 100 as one of his favorites, but other Wilson racquet families got some love, too.

Marco switched to the Wilson Blade 98 16×19 this year: “The blend of comfort, control, power, and precision is spot on for me in this racquet and it fits my game well.”

Although Michelle uses the RF97 Autograph as her go-to, she found a spin frame she liked. Michelle on the Wilson Pro Staff 97S: “This is the first Spin Effect racquet I really enjoyed hitting with as the spec falls into that of a ‘player’s frame’ and the string pattern doesn’t create any erratic launches off the stringbed but rather generates spin right when you need it. With a bit of customization, this was one of my guilty pleasure racquets of the year!”

Best tennis shoes of 2015

Each year the playtest team here likes to reflect on the gear they’ve reviewed the past year. We asked them to pick their favorites. Here are our picks of the best tennis shoes of 2015, as chosen by the Tennis Warehouse playtest team.

For men and women, it was a year dominated by adidas.

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Men’s tennis shoes
The adidas Barricade got two mentions, with Chris choosing the Boost version and Sebastian choosing the non-Boost option. Chris on the adidas Barricade 2015 Boost: “A great fitting shoe which offers class leading support, stability, traction and solid durability. The regular version is a great shoe, this Boost version adds really responsive cushioning to the mix.”

Sebastian: “Favorite shoe of the year is the adidas Barricade 2015 because of its tremendous blend of support, comfort and stability.”

Marco opted for adidas’ lightweight offering for 2015′s best shoes: “I liked the way these adidas adizero Ubersonics played fast and light around the court. I felt really connected with my movement in them and enjoyed the lower ride around the court, too.”

Lotto earned a couple of mentions for different models. While Mark opted for the Lotto EVO Raptor, Andy preferred the Lotto Stratosphere. Andy: “These are some of the softest, most comfortable tennis shoes I’ve ever worn while still providing a glove-like performance fit.”

On Troy’s feet, you’ll find the Asics Gel Resolution 6: “I have been an Asics Gel Resolution fan since the initial release, and this sixth edition has been no disappointment. I love the blend of comfort, support, and durability that this shoe provides. There are many professional players, who don’t have footwear contracts, that choose to wear Asics tennis shoes!”

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Women’s tennis shoes
The majority of the women on the team also chose adidas shoes as their favorites of 2015. Karly on the adidas Stella Barricade 2015: “adidas found a way to blend durability and stability together in an ultra lightweight package, making them an outstanding pair of performance shoes!”

The Stella Barricade 2015 was also Michelle’s pick: “So much plush, step-in comfort! These shoes perform and look great on the court as they keep me quick and stable and offer high levels of durability.”

Tiffani opted for the adidas adizero Ubersonic that was released later in 2015: “I loved the fabric upper, and the super low ride and firm cushioning fit right into my preferences. I’m always looking for extra speed on the court, and these shoes are so light, I feel speedy around the court.”

Brittany chose the Lotto Raptor EVO: “I don’t have a single negative thing to say but I especially loved the cushioning and durability!”

3 Doubles Tips

Around here, we have been focusing in on doubles lately. Troy was awesome enough to  share with you guys 3 of his top tips when he steps on the doubles court.

Here they are:

Control the middle of the court:

By controlling the middle of the court, you will cause your opponents to go for low-percentage shots when trying to pass you. There are times during a match where I tend to struggle with this concept. During the heat of a match, I often times become fearful of getting passed with a shot down the alley. When I think back on most of my doubles matches, there is typically less than a handful of successful passing shots down the alleys. More times than not, by you and your partner controlling the middle of the court, you will cause your opponents to hit unforced errors when they attempt to pass you down the line. The old doubles adage: “Down the middle solves the riddle,” well that only works if there is a middle area to hit through!

Think high percentage:

This is definitely something that I have struggled with over the years, but have come to learn the more I play doubles. Having primarily a singles background, I typically would think of myself as a shot-maker. When I play singles, I attempt to hit near the lines more often than I should. As I converted to playing doubles more often, I was going for way too many low percentage shots. As I have developed a better thought process over the years, I have learned that high percentage shots, and getting as close to the net as possible is the key to being successful in doubles. For example, if I am in a situation where I am at the baseline, and both of the opponents are at the net, instead of trying to hit the low-percentage passing shot down the alley, I have learned to take go for more high percentage shots. Being that the other team is already at an advantage with both players at the net, a smarter shot would be to hit a topspin dipper down the middle between the two opponents with hopes of them hitting a volley that will allow me to hit a winner on the next shot. Another high percentage shot in this situation, would be to hit a topspin lob, to the backhand side of either player (preferably the weaker player). The key for me is to not try to force a winner when I am in a defensive position (the baseline); unless you have a forehand like Jack Sock…

Be positive and have a short-term memory:

When transitioning from singles to doubles, it is even more important to stay positive in a team dynamic or partnership. Out of the three tips I am touching on today, this was one comes most naturally to me, being that I have participated in team sports most of my life. Having experience playing quarterback in football, pitcher in baseball, and point-guard in basketball, I had to learn to make my teammates better by being a positive influence, showing leadership, and giving inspiration to those around me. I learned at a young age, that if your teammates aren’t positively influenced by you, then it makes it near impossible to be successful. In doubles I have found that, good communication and trust in my partner is what keeps a positive team dynamic, and ultimately gives us a better chance of winning. One of the worst feelings that I have experienced, while playing doubles, is the feeling of letting my partner down. When I play doubles I want my partner to feel as though he/she does not have to worry about me being upset or angry. One way that I might encourage my partner if I see them getting upset: “don’t worry, nobody hurt, forget about it, the only thing that matters is the next point, let’s go!” I feel that if my partner knows I am going to fight to the finish, than he/she will do the same.

Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you’re playing doubles,

Troy