In the TW playtesting office, we often find racquets we like. Sometimes we switch. Sometimes we have what I’ll call an affair, which means we play with that stick for a few months then return to our original “racquet of choice,” and recently one of the playtesters found his Holy Grail, that coveted match made in heaven.
For me, tennis has been a journey. I’m still learning my way, and that is not likely to change. There are many aspects to this journey, from equipment to tournaments and everything in between. Today, let’s talk racquets.
My tennis journey began at age 15, shortly after quitting life as a competitive gymnast. My younger brother was a competitive tennis player so it was easy for me to head out to the courts as well. I not only picked up my brother’s sport, but also his racquet: the Prince CTS Lightning 110. This started a pattern. I played with what I was given. I had no reason for liking this one or disliking that one. Next up in my racquet history: Prince CTS Synergy 28. This was one of those “affairs” I described earlier. I liked the Synergy because Jennifer Capriati played with one of them (the Synergy DB 26, if I recall correctly), and I wanted to pound balls off the baseline just like her. It was, however, painfully obvious to my dad that I wasn’t Capriati-like, so he sent me back to the Lightning.
As my game developed, I was allowed to move on to the ProKennex Silver Ace, again my brother’s racquet. I stuck with it through high school and into college, when I regrettably hung up my sticks and didn’t play for a few years. Post college, I wanted back into the game. I thought I shouldn’t play with the Silver Ace any more; I felt I needed more oomph as I was starting over. This time around, I couldn’t use my brother’s racquet, the Prestige Classic 600. Can we say too demanding? He recommended the Babolat Pure Drive. I went with the Plus length, again on his recommendation. I liked the racquet because it gave me the extra juice I needed. After a while, I complained I was hitting my forehand late. He told me to get the standard Pure Drive, and I did. I liked this, too, but now I can’t help wondering if I had tried several racquets on my own if I would have gone in a different direction.
Fast forward. Job change lands me at Tennis Warehouse. Yes! As part of the playtest team, I began to hit different racquets. A lot of them. I developed a sense of what I truly liked in a racquet. I do like extended length racquets, but the swingweight needs to be manageable so I can whip through when I get caught. Headlight balance is preferred. My sweetspot for weight is 11 to 11.5 ounces, and I like racquets that have some flex, not too stiff. Now I’m the master of what I get to play with, and I certainly am lucky to have plenty of options every day. My current racquet of choice is the Yonex RDS 003, but it’s been discontinued. Lately I’ve been flirting a lot with the ProKennex Black Ace 98 and earlier had an affair with the Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour. What I’ve learned is that I must demo racquets, as many as I can. This is truly the only way to find my way to racquet heaven. Like I said, this journey isn’t over, and I’m sure there will many more stops along the way.
I’ll check back in with you and reflect now and then on my tennis journey. Please feel free to share your tennis travel stories with me, too!
Until next time, Happy Hitting!