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New vlog about Classic Racquets

by TN

Let’s look at some of my recent racquet acquisitions in my new vlog about Classic Racquets. What’s a classic to you?

The definition of a classic racquet is perhaps a bit loose, but I think a “classic” is a racquet that has stood the test of time and can be enjoyed today and compete with what’s currently out there. You can go back 30 years to the HEAD Pro Tour 630 or 20 years to Babolat Pure Control or 10 years to the Prince Exo3 Tour 100 (for example) and you have three solid classics. In this video, I talk about some racquets I’ve bought and tried recently, which I all think deserve to be called classics racquets.

Watch my vlog about classic racquets

In the vlog I talk about the following racquets (with some brief footage of me using them):

Babolat Pure Control (2003 version). A racquet that has a strong following among tennis nerds. The response on my Instagram was quite strong for this racquet. I have not reviewed it properly yet, but I intend to do that in a not too distant future. I can for sure say, that I can see what the fuzz is about. It’s a control racquet with great feel and good plow-through and stability.

Wilson nCode nTour. A rare racquet to see these days with slightly surprising specs: 27.25 inches, 288 grams unstrung, 95 sq inch head size and 22 mm beam. I measured the swing weight on mine to 340 but it swings faster and is great for slapping flat winners.

Prince Pro Stocks. I compare my TXT141P-TK4C pro stocks (Ferrer and Andujar) with the retail Prince Exo3 Tour 100 18×20, which is used today on tour by Nicolas Kicker and has a strong fanbase around the tennis world thanks to its ultra-soft response.

Babolat Aero Pro Drive Original. I have talked about this legend before but sold it some years back and now bought it back again. It’s a racquet worth keeping. Great control for an Aero, raw but connected feel – it’s all there and that’s why Rafa still uses it.

I also briefly mention the Babolat Pure Drive GT 2009, which is one of my favorite Pure Drives. I use a cracked one in this video and still enjoyed it.

What are your favorite classic racquets? Anything I should try? Please comment below.

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3 comments

J April 16, 2021 - 4:33 am

I once binned a pro stock experimental Prince frame….akin to what you mention. In several pieces. Shame on me.

Big lover of the classic Head frames from Prestige Pro/Classic/Tour 600, Pro Tour 630, Radical original PT57 630, Zebra and Candy. I prefer Zebra of them all, my friend prefers Candy’s and has swapped from a very well known modern players frame to a brace of PT57B Candy’s.

The game is the game, perhaps it goes in cycles a bit and frankly I’ve known people who could beat me with a frying pan. You can say old is gold….but, essentially you can sometimes feel more modern frames have a wider sweet spot or ‘a bit more’. More….of what, is subjective and can sometimes feel ‘odd’ rather than ‘pure’.

A better player is going to hit off centre much less, and therefore some of the older frames really reward these players because the sweet spot is more ‘pure’.

But….there are some fantastic new frames and some that develop spin far easier or are more polarised which suits 2 handers and modern forehands more perhaps.

Once tried the Rafa aero pro, tighter central string pattern than the modern versions and a simpler frame lay up, more connected. It felt like I was cheating, and saw countless average players become far harder to beat almost overnight. Outrageous soon and power in the right hands. For sure the APD 2004 original is one of histories ‘game changing’ frames, not just because of Nadal. It changed a lot at lower levels of tennis too.

Personally I prefer Wilson Pro Staffs, a 16/19 in a PS doesn’t jump at launch angle like others, heft and head light, PWS….for serves, volleys and one handed backhands and easy net clearance, not a lot feels like a well sorted and set up Pro Staff, however, I had such terrible spreads of weight and balance points and QC from Wilson, and some dire dampening or colour schemes I went back to Head and have no desire to throw stupid money to Wilson for frames that are miles apart and unworkable to self customise within static weight ranges.

Top 5 classic frames/ranges that work in the modern game:

5: a: Prince Graphite Original 110. (Or 100)…and the new Textreme 95 variants.
b: Head PT59/59B Radical 690.

4: Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (classic, hyper, any NCode-Pro Labs and Slazenger Pro Braided P.A Variant). Find the lighter 313g?? Variant with 16/18…good to modify!!

3: a Babolat Aeropro Drive 2004 Nadal. As if that is now 17 years old. Shows in some ways how ‘technology’ hasn’t necessarily progressed, subjective and personal.

b: Yonex. Now I can only remember 90sw inch variants regs Hewitt and Rio’s, for example the Super RD Tour, but a 95 must have been about. Fore, Yomex is almost there again with the 95’s, perhaps a VCore Pro 95 would work very well.

2: Head Ti Radical, Liquidmetal Radical and Microgel Radical. Aka the mythical PT113B, sort of. Works for Novak and without it we might not have had the Wilson Blade developed.

1: Head PT57. Spawned from the investment/development in the Agassi contract and first swung (630 bumblebee) I believe by David Wheaton in 1993. Developed into different lay ups, ultimately 6months later the PT630, PT280 aka Pro Tour. Muster, Kuerten, Murray, Karatsev, countless pro’s in A, A2,3,4,5,6 or custom lay ups as well as PT57B (twin tube) B10/B12 eg lay ups…

Special Mention: Wilson Pro Staff 88 St Vincent (aka retail Pro Staff Original 85) Pro Staff Tour 90 and subsequent variants. Won more grand slams singles titles than any other frame. First introduced by Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in early 1980’s and basicall still used by Roger Federer until 2015 ISH. Notable others…..Mary Pierce, Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier.

However, the PS85/88/90 is surely too small for the modern game. And I was reliably told that Donnay actually had a similar looking black frame, similar weight and size that was ‘better’. But, one Mr Bjorn Borg, retired. There was one on eBay for $50 recently!

Final mention, PT10 Prestige 600. In Prestige Classic form, possibly the best paint job ever on a frame, and frankly both the most beautiful sweet spot and also probably for a while the most used racket on tour in the late 1980’s and through the1990’s. But, again, I don’t think it works with the modern game.

I wonder if there are frames by Donnay, Pro Kennex, Schnawert, Yamaha, Kneissl, Volkl, Estusa et all that would work….or at least molds that haven’t already been bought and redeveloped. Pro Kennex Destiny = Babolat for example.

Successful Dunlop’s are all, sort of PT57 ISH. A Max 200g wouldn’t work, V throat shape needs to be wider.

I know. I’ve just thought of a frame that could really rip both power and spin. But, the brand went west and became Pacific.

Fischer. The Kafelnikov frame.

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Tennis Lion April 16, 2021 - 10:14 am

Good idea to concentrate on useable classic frames from the last 20-years or so. We can all dream of hitting 85 sqi 400g frames from the 80s, but it’s not going to work against modern players with much more spin these days.

The Pro Staff 5.1 Surge is interesting. It was Wilson’s answer to the Pure-Drive back in 2004, and is a little less stiff and has a bit more control. Also the Slazenger Pro-Braided and Pro-Graphite (original checkerboard, with ridged grip) have a magic feel, but I can’t find them anywhere unfortunately. And the Dunlops like MFil 200 still play fine. TBH I think the Ultra Tour is already a bit of a classic, with a tiny bit of lead in the hoop.

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J April 17, 2021 - 3:20 am

Yes, I remember that Surge thing, was like yellow red and black or something and possibly used a modded pro kennex destiny mold too…..who knows. The Chinese factory do, I guess lol.

Yes Dunlop made some really decent frames, Hot Melt 100,200,300g perhaps being up there for me, they sort of filled the gap left when head switched from PT57 to PT113 type radicals. But, a bit like the H19 Ultra tour, aren’t quite the same. Whether that is better or worse, is just personal preference.
You could argue that ‘other’ brands of cols, aren’t ‘the real thing’ but, some people prefer other brands.

For everyone who wishes the PT57 frames or PT2.0 were more ‘modifiable’ to ‘their’ spec, the Wilson Ultra Tour is a very good option, what is it, 305g? Again, lead tape and or leather can fix all these personal preferences keeping it within the sort of 335-345g finished static string weight range. The 16/19 Dunlop CX200 is also decent for these mods as I believe it’s lighter than the 18/20 variant.

Most people, even decent level players are often unaware of what ‘their’ spec even is, and a lot are good enough to not really care, but perhaps they should as retail variances in some frames has been woeful at times. I guess retail frames are a sort of ‘average’ of where a manufacturer feels a racket fits in its target market.

Back on topic Donnay used to have some frames, something like a VST Formula Pro…… aerodynamic frame with open ish drill pattern and mid plus head…maybe a mold like that would work.

However, I’m pretty sure it’s all been done before shape wise and so manufacturers have probably already purchased rights to many molds for future experimentation and development with different lay ups of materials.

The skill sets that the big 4 have are what needs aspiring to. And no frame or technology can magic that into your game.

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