Courtship: The 7 Best Tennis Rackets

Never let it be said that tennis is not a manly game. Sure, there isn’t a lot of bone crunching going on, but there is Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova grunting and groaning the day away, which you can’t beat no matter how nice your stick is. Long maligned as a game for pale hemophiliacs in white shorts, tennis has come back in a big way and if you aren’t ready to play with some knowledge of the game and a good tennis racket you’re going to miss the bus. That’s why we’re here.

Picking a good one usually depends on your play style. Heavier rackets are slower, but give you more power. Lighter rackets offer maneuverability, but you won’t be able to hit a grand slam. Smaller racket heads concentrate power while larger ones help newer players get a hold of the ball. If you play at the net, you need something light, fast, and large, while baseliners need heavier rackets that give them power and help them drop spin on the ball. You must find the right mix of power and precision to suit your personality. To help you, here is our 7 best tennis rackets.

Prince O3 Red

Prince O3 Red

Pros: Works for any play style
Cons: Very light

Takes All Comers: Since most of the best tennis rackets run in the $200 range, we wanted to give the entry-level buyer something that would give them quality and control without ruining their budget. Prince rackets generally cater to a slightly less affluent clientele, but they still make incredible, versatile stuff for the price. Their original Red is a great place to start. No matter what kind of play style you have, the large sweet spot sunk into the friendly 105 square-inch head is a bargain at twice the price. The 9.9oz weight works well for anyone with tennis elbow or the casual player who needs to adjust to moving a racket around. Whether you are a baseliner needing speed and power or a net player that wants size, the Red is a very solid, if not particularly flashy or sexy choice. [Purchase: $80]

Babolat Aeropro Drive

Babolat Aeropro Drive

Pros: Versatile
Cons: Stiff body

Baseline Battler: This is top spin guru Rafael Nadal’s racket of choice. It has a very stiff body that allows for better ball feel on each hit and can help improve control for those looking to tighten up their game. Aero is still using their wing shaft design in conjunction with an 11.2oz weight for fast speed both from the back court and for quick exchanges at the net. It has a 100 square-inch head with a nice, big sweet spot which makes is good for players of any experience level. While you’ll be able to move the ball with precision, you can also really flatten it out. Even from deep in the back court you can rack up some fairly vicious speed to cut your opponent off at the knees. [Purchase: $194+]

Yonex EZONE Ai 98

Yonex EZONE Ai 98

Pros: Excellent defensive racket
Cons: Poor spin capabilities

Good Vibrations: Beginners need not apply with this oddly-shaped modern tennis racket. The 98 square-inch head has the same iconic – which is to say strange – shape that Yonex has been pushing for years, yet this one feels much more normal for intermediate and advanced players. The sweet spot is larger than usual, but still smaller than many choices. It’s a bit weighty at 11.5oz but Yonex seems to have used the extra weight to good effect with their Dual Shut System which uses the grommets near the handle to dampen bad vibrations for cleaner hits. It actually seems to come alive the harder you swing so it works well for playing an aggressive defense. While it shines against power hitters, trying to get the top spin to make a really heavy ball just won’t work. [Purchase: $199]

Wilson Prostaff 90 BLX

Wilson Prostaff 90 BLX

Pros: Powerful
Cons: Heavy

Heavy Hitter: It should not be a shock that Roger Federer’s racket of choice is one that only a true surgeon of the court can use effectively. It has both a postage stamp-sized 90 square-inch head and a 12.6oz body that will feel like swinging a hammer to the uninitiated. The reason for the added weight is basalt graphite placed in the handle. It gives experts a better feel for the ball and helps counter-weight for really deep, powerful swings meant to stick the ball in the chain-link. Using this will feel like jumping into the deep end of the pool, but if you can master it, you can use anything. Net fighters and spin doctors will both have a lot of difficulty doing battle at the net while back court clubbers will find it to be a deadly weapon. [Purchase: $159+]

Volkl Organix V1 Pro

Volkl Organix V1 Pro

Pros: Brings off-center shots under control
Cons: Un-specialized

Best for Beginners: All right, most beginners aren’t going to want to drop $200 on a racket, but if you want something that is very forgiving no matter what type of player you are or what type of player you want to become. The overall feel is very plush, though it bears a deceptively high stiffness rating. It’s friendly with spin and minimizes how many of your shots go rogue over the fence. It allows you to move from power hitting to finesse games with ease and gives you a chance to find what feels best without pressuring you in one direction or another. Especially kind to off-center hits the 99.5 square-inch head gives you plenty of real estate for while the 11.3 oz weight makes it good for quickdraws. [Purchase: $190]

Head YOUTEK Graphene Radical Pro

Head YOUTEK Graphene Radical Pro

Pros: Excellent ball placement
Cons: Limited Power

Net Worth: The Radical Pro was what was sitting in Andy Murray’s hand when he rocked Wimbeldon, so it damn sure deserves a place in your bag. At 11.5oz it is a nice mid-weight racket, though thanks to the way its balanced it moves like a much lighter piece of equipment. On power swings you are going to notice some sluggishness, but barely enough to make a difference. This is definitely a control players racket with its 98 square-inch head which allows for decent serve speed but sluggers won’t get the crushing power they desire. For smooth operation when making a net play, it works wonders and allows for sniper-level ball placement. For pure power it’s not a winner. [Purchase: $190]

Head YOUTEK Graphene Speed Pro

Head YOUTEK Graphene Speed Pro

Pros: Very stable
Cons: Doesn’t dampen vibrations enough

Hunter/Killer: This 11.7oz beefcake is what the attack-happy Novak Djokovic uses to great effect. It is made for speed with the weight distributed toward the ends so that it aids movement in any direction. The 18×20 string arrangement is unusual, but geared toward flat hitters who want to be able to aim their slams or throw a little english onto a powerful stroke. This is probably the best one you can find if you like to attack the net rather than hanging back at the baseline. The 100 square-inch head is a little on the large side for catching sneaky balls that would otherwise get by you. The racket is extremely stable and balanced when moving, but you’ll definitely catch a few bad vibrations as you use it. [Purchase: $186]

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