Growing up, my first tennis racquet was only $15 from Modell’s Sporting Goods. I had gone through a lot of battles with that plastic racquet until the frame completely bent on me during a match. I had truly outgrown that racquet as I was hitting the ball so big that it literally bent and crumbled in my hand. So it was time for a new one, a real one this time.
My dad had a racquet that he had used for a while and he passed it down to me. It was the Wilson Jack Kramer Pro-staff with the orange wooden handle. I had built up quite the callus on my hand due to that racquet but I loved it. I was having great success with that racquet until my dad had the bright idea of switching me to a Yonex racquet. At the time Monica Seles was doing extremely well with that racquet beating Steffi Graf in Grand Slams.
So my parents purchased the $225 racquet for me and to say the least my game severely struggled. If you are familiar with the Yonex, the head of the racquet is oval shaped. Every other ball that I hit was off of the frame and I learned very quickly that this was not the racquet for me. I hated that racquet and never felt comfortable with it. It was unfortunate that I had to learn the hard way to never purchase a racquet without trying it out first. That was a $225 mistake.
After that horrible experience, we went to the tennis store and learned that I was allowed to borrow/try out up to five racquets at a time. They are called demo racquets. The cost was $5 for each racquet borrowed but no money was lost as all of the money used to demo a racquet went towards the purchase of my new one. Once I figured out the one that I liked, my game was back and I was unbeatable.
I had selected the Wilson 6.2 Hammer Stretch. I learned very early on that I am a Wilson guy and have been using that brand ever since. If you are interested in knowing which racquet I am using today, it’s the Wilson Pro Staff that Roger Federer uses, (the all black one). So yes, I am happy to say that I am back to my original roots from my younger days. I love this racquet!
When Purchasing a New Tennis Racquet, Consider These 4 Things:
Everyone’s preference is different. Some tennis players like thick grips and other prefer a smaller grip. I personally like a smaller grip as I feel that I can switch grips between forehand and backhand quicker and can maneuver the racquet the way that I like. To each their own so do pay attention to what type of grip size you like.
All of the racquet models look exactly the same but if you actually pick up a few of them, you will find that they all have a different weight to them. Some are heavier and others are lighter. I prefer a lighter racquet as I find that heavier racquets give me tennis elbow. There is nothing wrong with having a heavier racquet but do know that you are going to have to put in a lot of work to hit your shots. Most racquets have three levels of weight, so make sure you try all of them. You don’t want anything too light or too heavy. You’ll know which weight is right for you.
Strings come in different sizes which are called gauges. The typical gauges are 15 gauge, 16 gauge and 17 gauge. The 15 gauge is going to be more of a thicker string where the 17 gauge would be the thinnest. I am a big hitter and pop strings quite frequently, so I use a thicker gauge string to have my strings last longer. Some strings offer more spin and others will offer more control or power. Talk to your local pro-shop rep and they can help you figure out which string type you are looking for.
Every single racquet has a recommended tension range. The range is typically between 50 and 60 pounds. Some will be between 53 to 63. Every single racquet is different. How will you know? Each racquet has all of this information somewhere on the frame. Back in the day all of the information was in-between the throat of the racquet. Some brands have gotten creative and have placed this information on the head of the racquet between the strings. Recently, I have found it quite fun to try and find the specs on the newer racquets. They all have this information, you just have to find it.
I am not saying to never purchase a Yonex racquet as there are a lot of players out there having great success with that racquet. I just know it’s not the racquet for me. I am also not saying that all heavy racquets will give you tennis elbow. A heavier racquet may be just what you need to step your game up. Make sure you demo to find out.
One More Piece of Advice
Serious tennis players have at least two racquets that are exactly the same. I have found it very difficult to pop a string and then have to go to a completely different racquet. By the time you adjust to the new racquet, the match could be over.