ATP vs WTA Racquets

by TN

I often get the question if recreational players should copy WTA player specs over the more demanding ATP specs. Let us look into ATP vs WTA racquets.

I generally do not think you should imitate anyone, especially not professional tennis players, but if you would like to base your specs on a pro, it is better to use WTA player specs because they are usually lighter and more forgiving. But let us dive deeper into the specs of the different tours, ATP vs WTA racquets.

I used a sheet of collected ATP and WTA player racquets on this page. Inactive players on the sheet are not from the “good old days”, but a mix of players who retired in the last ten years.


(I talk at some length about the numbers above in the video below)

There are a few conclusions we can draw from this:

1. Swing weights are moving downwards on both tours

2. Static weight is also moving downwards

3. WTA players do not play with much lower swing weights than ATP pros

4. The difference in WTA vs ATP is a lower static weight but a more head-heavy balance.

5. WTA players use larger head sizes on average.

6. Doubles players use racquets with a higher static weight but a more head-light balance than ATP singles players.

These are somewhat broad generalisations but over the years I have found them to ring true. And most retail racquets sold these days are more towards the WTA player style than the ATP style.

What can you learn from this?

I have tried to dig deep into my own game these last few months and I can not shake the feeling that I:

1. Play better with a slightly lower swing weight than I thought (320-325)

2. Really appreciate the bigger sweet spot in a 100 sq inch racquet

3. Do not find that the extra precision I get from a smaller head size benefits my game as much as the extra free power and spin from the larger head size.

My current setup is definitely more towards a WTA style player than an ATP, but my swing weight is still lower than the average pro on both tours. Although there are a few 340+ SW racquets I really love to play with: the PT57A 16×19, the Dahcor AK97S, and racquets like the HEAD Graphene 360+ Prestige MP  – I can not be as consistent with my depth and power with those racquets.

I definitely feel like you can get a pretty connected racquet with a large sweet spot these days without going below 100 sq inches. The Diadem Nova and the new Graphene 360+ Speed MP are two good examples of this. Reviews to come.

What are your thoughts about this? Cheers / Jonas

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7 comments

Steve Sprengel February 28, 2020 - 01:13

3 words: Hyper Sledge Hammer !!!!

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Jack February 28, 2020 - 11:55

People should demo racquets and buy what makes sense to them. Then move on to trying STRINGS, the most important part. Materials, tension, hybrid…. That will make the biggest difference.

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Leonardo A MacKnight March 4, 2020 - 10:34

GREAT article! Thank you for the info 🙂

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Florian March 28, 2021 - 16:03

Hi Jonas,

great website, thanks for your wonderful work!

Do you know which racket (and specs) Karolina Pliskova and Kim Clijsters are using? I’m always wondering if it really is a “regular” Pure Drive, since they play pretty flat strokes, especially Pliskova … (or are they using a VS?)?

And what would be a tuning option for a Pure Drive that suits a flatter game style? (I like it since I have arm issues and cortex really helps… but I struggle with control. )

Thanks and kind regards,
Florian

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Steve k June 6, 2021 - 00:30

Florian, I seem to notice that Karolina Pliskova uses an oversize Pure Drive. I myself chose to hit a flatter game style. I try to hit my forehand as flat as Connors, and my one-handed backhand is mostly flat, with only slight topspin. My first tennis instructor, Ben Chu, said that he would teach me a Don Budge style backhand, and he did!
My tuning option for a flatter game style is to use a lively multifilament such as Tecnifibre NRG2, in 17 ga. at about 57 lbs in a Pure Drive. The relative lack of spin from such a string doesn’t matter, since you are hitting flat! I find that a multifilament cushions the stiffness of a Pure Drive and helps prevent tennis elbow.
We have dry weather all day long where I live (I play at the Berkeley Tennis Club), so I have been using VS 17 ga. at about 54 lbs in my Pure Drives. This string lasts about 9 months of play, since I hit so little topspin (only on crosscourt passing shots). For some reason, a heavy spin serve doesn’t wear out strings like a heavily topspun forehand (Andrei Rublev’s, for example).
I seldom struggle with control, since my groundstroke style is to hit a very controlled, almost mechanical stroke, like Jimmy Connors. (All the aggression comes in the footwork – like Messi) Anyway, for anyone with elbow issues, I would recommend either multifilament or natural gut. The price of natural gut is $42.95 plus $25 for the stringing, not much more than the US copay for a visit to a specialist MD, usually an orthopedic surgeon. They are great consultants. Don’t fear the surgeon!
The past year or so of COVID shutdown has limited my on-court time for playing tennis, so I have been doing spider drills, half-hour walk-runs and some of the physical training that the WTA and ATP players use. As a result, I can now sprint the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds like I did in high school! Not bad for a middle-aged guy like me.
Good luck, and let us know the results of your experiments.
Steve k, from Berkeley, California

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Steve k June 6, 2021 - 00:46

My current racquet is a Pure Drive Plus strung with 17 ga. VS at 54 lbs. Static weight is 12.7 oz., or metric 360 g. Swing weight is 379. The way I control this racquet is to hit my groundstrokes with a very controlled swing, like Connors, or like Chris Evert.
I let the racquet do the work. Also, I am a retired carpenter and have considerable grip strength and upper-body strength.
Steve k from Berkeley, California

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Florian June 8, 2021 - 10:31

Hey Steve,
thank you so much for your answer!
I also use a multifilament string, Wilson Sensation Control, but I’m eager to check out some other ones, I’ll definitely order the Tecnifibre NRG2 you recommended. And maybe the Kirschbaum Gut Feeling for which I read some great reviews.
I have elbow issues because somehow a bit of my bone was broken/loose, it got removed, but the problems remained – but only when I mishit a backhand/backhandvolley/serve with a streched arm, like on a streched backhand volley. I loved to play with my Head Pro Tour 630 and Head Prestige Tour 600, which were pretty small and stable frames. The Pure Drive isn’t that stable when I mishit, which is bad, but it’s good for my elbow 😉
Thanks again for your advice and all the best!
Florian

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