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Old but Gold – Love for Vintage Racquets

by TN

Any of you readers who play around or use vintage tennis racquets from time to time? It can be great fun and sometimes it’s also beneficial to your game.

There are many “old but gold” tennis racquets out there. I don’t mean wooden racquets here, but racquets from the 80s and onward. As some of you loyal readers know, one of the most popular racquets on the ATP tour is more than 20 years old – the HEAD Pro Tour 630 (or 280 in the US). Now it is called PT57A and is used by Andy Murray, Gilles Simon and many more along with its cousin PT57E (based on the HEAD iPrestige racquet).

Obviously not only Murray and Simon use older racquet molds with new paint jobs. Most professionals on the tour still play with pro stock racquets based on older ones as you can see in this list of ATP pro racquets.

I am myself always open to testing older tennis racquets and I know some of them have pleasant playing characteristics. The HEAD Pro Tour 630 for sure, but also racquets such as the Wilson Pro Staff 85 as used by Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg and the HEAD Prestige 600 (used by Ivanisevic to name one and still played by Robin Haase today!).

HEAD was actually making loads of great racquets back in the days and I’m currently playing around with a HEAD Liquidmetal Radical Tour, which strung (this one has a thick leather grip) weighs around 355 grams and at only 6 pts head light is quite a beast to swing. I really enjoy heavy racquets however so it’s a fun ride for me so far.

The Radical series made popular by Andre Agassi (who played the HEAD Radical Oversize), and later on championed by Andy Murray, has a great heritage. There are a lot of fans of the various editions of the HEAD Radical Tour (the Bumblebee, the Candycane and the Zebra) and they still are all great playing racquets if you like a slightly heavier and more flexible sticks than the modern racquets of today.

In the picture below you have three great HEAD racquets. The HEAD iPrestige (Mid in this case), the HEAD Prestige Tour 600 (not as “classic” as the Classic) and the HEAD Radical Tour (candycane edition).

So you can definitely play solid tennis today with a 20-year-old racquet. Getting a whippy top spin shot with lots of racquet head speed is not going to easy for an amateur player with a racquet weighing 350 grams, but that’s not the only way to play tennis. Tennis has become faster over the years and racquet companies have tried to answer the question on how to maintain stability while dealing with increasing swing speeds and more spin-friendly strings. This is how racquets are becoming stiffer and lighter and dampening/stability materials like Countervail, Textreme, Graphene, and more, are becoming more and more important.

Racquets are supposed to give more power and stability, strings are supposed to give more spin and control and somewhere along the line the equation isn’t all that easy to maintain with lots players becoming injured. It’s not only the gear of course, the sport requires more from the body now than ever before. I think this is something for players and the ATP tour to think about seriously now. Just look at how the 2016 and 2017 seasons turned out. Rafa and Roger opted out of the second half of 2016 and Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Nishikori and Raonic all stopped play early in 2017! Players need to stay healthy for the sport to remain healthy and racquets and strings are a part of this too.

I get a little off topic here, but there are many good things to be said about older racquets and in many cases you’re fine playing a ten or twenty year old racquet today. Although it’s always fun to try new stuff too!

I will be writing about more vintage racquets in the future and will conducts some hopefully interesting oldie-but-goldie play-tests as well. Is there any particular racquet you like to see? Please comment below. I’m also curious to know what vintage racquets you’re using and why. Thanks for reading.

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Luis G September 15, 2017 - 19:23

Got a Pt 280 and I plan to change its pallet to my size, and then CAP it, it has the standard right now.

The RED Graphene CAPs actually looks great on it! Is that yours? Matches the lettering on the throat as well. I have a set in red and was thinking of putting it on the 25th Anniversary, but now im debating it on the 280. What about the IG clear on the PT? would it look bad or better? or would the red ones look better on the all black 25th?

Awesome racquet, yet to play with it until I do the changes and string it lol.

Tennisnerd September 16, 2017 - 15:55

Hi Luis,
Yes, it’s mine. I really like the look!

Not sure about the 25th Anniversary one, but I do like red grommets :) Should work with the black.

Good luck and let me know how it goes. Cheers / Jonas

Max September 19, 2017 - 00:14

I wonder what are the differences between the PT57A and PT57E? Are they feel similar? Which one is better?


Luis G September 21, 2017 - 07:05


I put the Red grommets on the PT280, and OMG lol
eye popping toy
However, only 5-6g heavier than the standard grommets it had. I expected a bit more.

Estimating 360g+ strung with leather and overgrip.
What are your specs?
Also, planning to change pallet size, its a 5, I have 3s, do these have the Sorbothane strip under the pallets?
Do you know if they are easy to transfer to the new pallet if so?

Tennisnerd September 21, 2017 - 08:39

Hi Luis,
I always end up around 355-360 strung with leather and overgrip as well on PT 280 / 630. Yes, they have the Sorbothane strip, but I had no problem changing to regular pallets. It’s always hard not to break the old one however. Cheers / J

Manos October 13, 2017 - 12:41

Dear Jonas,

It will be interesting to have your thoughts about Volkl C10 Pro.

Tennisnerd October 13, 2017 - 14:56

Hi Manos,
Great stick. One of the all-time greats that does pretty much everything well.

Not really sure why I don’t own one of these to be honest…Cheers / J

Eric Kirsch April 5, 2019 - 13:35

I haven’t played tennis in since 2012. Why? Almost pulled the ACL…..when I play again, I will be stretching for a couple weeks before I start playing again. I played daily for years, then had life squeeze tennis out a little at a time before nothing for years. Found a head radical tour at a thrift store for 5 bucks. I have about 5 in the closet. This is what I need to get me out there to play…..head is my favorite because of grip is more rectangular and main strings are 18. Good for pounding base line rockets. Had the radical prior to this one….it had to much shock and gave me tennis elbow quickly….but the new one is much better technology…..so I’ll be assuming it will be a good racquet.

Nick August 6, 2019 - 16:21

Love your site and videos. I recently acquired a head candy cane os. It’s got some type of hybrid strings on it. I can tell what the crosses are (head syngut) but not the mains. They almost look like natural gut but idk. I really like the feel of poly string, it’s deadness. I’m not a fan of the ring and I use a plain old rubberband or gumband as we call it here in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA. I used to associate the flex of the racquet with something I didn’t want. That is until this candy cane racquet. I have an I.radical os too and it feels so different it’s crazy. Anyhow my question is what do you like stringwise on your candy cane? Thx in advance. Nick. B

Tennisnerd August 7, 2019 - 11:19

Hi Nick,
Thanks appreciate it! For a Candycane I would string it with spin-friendly poly and string it low to open up both spin and power. Solinco Tour Bite at 48 lbs perhaps? It is a very flexible racquet so firming it up a bit is a good idea in my opinion.

Cheers / Jonas

PS. If you feel like my advice is really useful, please consider becoming a patron for $2 at patreon.com/tennisnerd and get exclusive content every week. DS.

Stephen November 2, 2020 - 05:17

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Wilson Sting Midsize. I recently got back into tennis and couldn’t get comfortable with all the new racquets. Pick up my old Sting and voila! Is it me or does this antique have any worthy characteristics? If so, what are they and where can I find these same characteristics in a modern racquet? Thanks. I watch you on YouTube all the time and I respect your opinion and value your advice.

Randy November 1, 2021 - 23:25

I’m a big and mew fan of the Radical series. Because of who it’s designed for and what it is designed for. I don’t really yet play enough to have a style. I’m middle aged but athletic and strong. I like the idea of more feel and touch. I don’t want to be killing top spin and smashing the less athletic and older people I’ll play with. Some tasteful placement and a little drop shot a spin here and there is hard to be mad at though. Also I think it’s a better way to play for longevity. I have the Graphene XT. Currently it’s fine-I don’t know any better. But I’m interested in getting an older radical with more flex and touch etc like I hear they have.

The Youtek IG or The LM or even the Ti or I all seem good. I hear that the micro gel breaks.

What do you recommend especially for the price point?


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