There's no doubt that the pace of the world is increasing and it's also reflected in the game of tennis. You need to hit harder, swing faster for maximum spin and move at blistering speeds with shoes that are light as feathers. Brands are no longer talking about precision like in the days of the Prestige Classic. Now it's all faster, faster, faster, stronger, stronger, stronger.
Here are some products to prove my point:
Babolat Jet – new lightspeed shoe. It weighs 11.5 ounces (326 grams) but is still supposed to offer comfort and support. Like with all lightweight shoes, durability suffers.
Wilson Rush Pro 2 – It's not a brand new shoe line like the Babolat Jet, but Rush is in the new so I thought I mention it. These are not as light as Babolat Jet either, but a decent shoe. Mine lasted for almost a year before they tore.
HEAD Graphene XT Speed Limited Edition – This racquet is the latest edition of the Speed series that is endorsed by Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev. See this post for more on their racquets. I quote the product description: “The HEAD Graphene XT Speed MP was re-engineered with the world’s strongest and lightest material to make their Graphene XT racquets 30%* stronger providing an optimized weight distribution for a faster swing and more power.”
Wilson Burn FST 95 – I wrote about this racquet in a previous post. It's the model endorsed by Kei Nishikori and has what Wilson calls Fast Speed Technology and X2 Ergo Shaft. “These racquets feature the all new Fast Speed Technology (FST), which is an octagonal shape in the frame and a headlight balance that allows the racquet to move faster through the air.”
Babolat Pure Aero – perhaps the most popular racquet in the world, previously called the Babolat Aero Pro is now back with a FSI string pattern (more spin!) and “an update to the AeroModular “wing” shaft design, called AeroModular2, making the AeroPro series one of the fastest frames around.”
These are just a few examples of products talking about speed as their main selling point. It's obvious that this is product feature that is becoming more and more important, but some manufacturers are still mostly selling their “unique” materials. Prince has their TexTreme, HEAD has their graphene, Tecnifibre is all about Dynacore etc etc.
But we also have to put ourselves in the shoes of a tennis company. How do you sell more raquets? What marketing can you use? How can you push the envelope in industry where some professionals are still playing with 20-year-old racquets in fresh, new paint jobs?
Everything is faster these days, tennis racquets, the tennis business and the sport itself. You need to be on your toes to survive and it's maybe not strange that sometimes we wish we were back at slower and simpler times…