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Knowing your racquet spec

by Jonas Eriksson

If you are lost on what racquet to use, one part that will make the journey easier is knowing your racquet spec.

I published my MRR-list (match-ready-racquet list) a little while ago. That list became a bit broader than intended because I am testing so many racquets that it makes sense for me to readily be able to switch from a 95 to a 100 sq inch racquet. But that’s obviously not perfect. I have a racquet spec range and to optimize my own performance and play on the court, I need to stick to that and not have too many options. Knowing your racquet spec is key to finding the right racquet.

Sometimes you think you know your tennis and what you like and then suddenly a racquet comes along and throws you off. I never used to enjoy playing with tweener sticks (100 sq inches, light, powerful), but once I found the Babolat Soft Drive that changed a bit. Arguably, that is softer than most tweeners, but I also started enjoying stiffer frames like the Dunlop FX 500.  Sadly, the Dunlop vibrates a bit too much for my arm and I have had to rethink that option for the MRR-list. I have also noticed that I hit my one-hander less consistently with a 100 sq inch racquet. And I feel that the sweet spot of most 95 sq inch racquets is too small for my level of tennis.

Rethinking my racquet spec

That’s why I am rethinking my MRR-list and spec range a bit. This is where I’m currently at:

305-320 grams unstrung
32-33 cm balance strung
16×19 (tight), 18×19 or 16×20
97-98 sq inches
20-23 mm beam
RA of 62-65 strung
325-330 SW

I have been swayed by quite a few racquets this year. Here are some comments on them.

HEAD Pro Tour 2.0 – Great feel and control – small sweet spot, too low trajectory
Wilson Ultra Pro – Great feel, control, and excellent for customization – Smallish sweet spot, a bit low-powered
HEAD Extreme Tour – Nice power and spin, a bit too powerful, also some instability unless customized
Heysil Tour 98 – Great feel and control, a bit low trajectory, smallish sweet spot
Dunlop FX 500 – Easy to use, powerful, controlled launch – too stiff, a bit too much power
Wilson Pro Staff 97 – Great feel, control, easy to manuever –  looking for a bit more power and stability
HEAD Radical Pro – Great feel, control, easy to maneuver – looking for a bit more power and stability
HEAD Graphene 360+ Speed Pro – Large sweet spot, good stability – feels a bit slow through the air
Prince Phantom 100P – Great feel, large sweet spot – Lacks a bit of power and stability

Confidence in your gear

All of the above are racquet I could take into a match and feel pretty confident with. I have no qualms recommending them to other players. There are always pros and cons with every racquet you choose. The key is finding one that feels right from the get-go, doesn’t open a glaring weakness in your game, and allows you to play freely with confidence. You can never get everything in a racquet.

It’s pretty clear though that I need a bit of pace but not too much, a bit higher launch angle than most 18×20 patterns, decent comfort (no arm-wreckers), and a good-sized (but not enormous) sweet spot.

Right now on my list of becoming the match-ready-racquet number one is:

Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT – Some pop, some spin (16×20), good feel, good comfort – pretty heavy (320g unstrung)
Tecnifibre Tfight RS 305 – Feels fast, decent spin (18×19), good power, nice feel, not sure about comfort…(review to come)
Yonex Ezone 98 Tour – Stable, solid, good spin (tight 16×19), decent power, good comfort, but a bit muted and slow
Wilson Pro Staff 97 V13 – Nice feel and comfort, some pop, good control – lacks a bit of stability

The Heysil Tour 98 and Radical Pro 2021 are still on the list. The Heysil is very good, but I sometimes struggle with the low trajectory of the tight 18×20 and the Radical Pro is also great, but feels a tad unstable (smaller sweet spot). The Radical might play a bit better with some customization, but right now I enjoy its speed through the air and I obviously don’t want to make it sluggish.

It’s pretty clear to me…

That I have a racquet problem! Joking aside, that’s a part of Tennisnerd. But I still want a frame or two that feels like home in serious match play. Testing new frames in every session can become a chore and can be quite tedious and frustrating as you can’t find your best tennis that way.

That’s why I think sticking to a couple within the same spec range is a good idea in general. My deadline is to have a fresh new and shorter MRR-list by the end of the year. If you are curious about the process – watch this space. And if you need help choosing a racquet, check out my consultation service.

Where are you in your racquet journey?

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Stanislav October 21, 2020 - 16:08

Try to find Yonex RDS 001 98 sp (315 gr unstrung) if it possible. Big sweet spot, good access to spin, so crisp with right string and very good for 1 hand backhand. I sold mine, and so regret. Few weeks ago I bought European version (no sp index) but it’s more muted (actual weight 223 unstrung), feels real more havie.

James October 21, 2020 - 18:32

Thanks for doing what you’re doing and keep it up!
I’ve combed the blog going back to beginning and spent many hours here not working :)

A few thoughts occurred to me on your struggle to “find a home”.
* The “problem” is in your head. To solve it, You could take one pick from your MRR list tomorrow and stick to it long term. Make a decision resist any temptation to consider alternatives. It’s your racket with all it’s pros an cons. You’ll adapt your playstyle to it and your game will improve a bit after a while.
* Doing the above will inevitably cause future racket reviews to become comparisons to chosen home racket. That can be considered both good or bad. Bad because you will become more partial to rackets similar to what you have grown accustomed to. Good because it will provide some reference point.
* Your reviews are one persons opinion. And i’m not trying to undermine your opinion in any way here. Focus more on the word “person”. In world of tennis that is your height, age, speed of swing and other movements (greatly related to your weight), amount of past training and also some mental characteristics like speed of cognition, aggressiveness, tendency to get nervous, strategic ability, etc etc. Your preferences are most likely suited to other similar persons. My point here is that what does not work for you can be just right for someone else with different body and mind. And my point here further is that it would be quite ok to acknowledge that and review rackets from the perspective of what suits you best.
* To make the reviews more objective and weigh on all the aspects of a given racket, you would need more playtesters of some basic kinds. For example, quite common types of club players are (besides your kind – mid-sized fast mover) a slow moving big guy (fat people love tennis too!), tall guy with lots of swing power, tireless teenager from tennis school (potential pro), middle aged woman with no power (very common), senior citizen who has played for a long time but cant generate power any more.
* I would say it’s quite alright to review rackets from your own POV and compared to your chosen one. Doing objective reviews that consider all aspects is just too involved and there would have to be some sort of financial motivation to do it long term. That would of course immediately call into question the objectivity of such reviews.


Pedro October 21, 2020 - 20:46

For me head youtek ig prestige PRO is the best!
Mine is customized with 348g, balance in 32.5cm.
Could you review this racquet?
It would be nice!

Rokas October 21, 2020 - 21:53

I think we sometimes use the term “small sweet spot” too liberally, i.e. small head size=small sweet spot. For example after playing about 70 hours with it, I do not think that among the very few flaws of PT 2.0 small sweet spot is one of them. Actually, I find it not only big considering it’s head size, but even in comparison to rackets with bigger head sizes as well which i used for some time (for example IG Radical Pro, Vcore 97 PRO, Grapehene 360+ Prestige MP, Vcore 95 D). Even lab data at TWU shows, that PT 2.0 have a sweet zone of 18 sq.in. Prestige 360+ MP has 16 sq.in, same is Vcore97, IG Radical Pro has 17 sq. in. Even the entire Gravity line has a smaller sweet spot, if we believe TWU data (which sound very counterintuitive for sure). That calculation method is far from perfect there, since it also includes zones in the lower hoop, but I would really be curious to know, which frames in your opinion have a bigger sweet spot among 95’s?


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