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Questions about pro stock racquets

by Tennisnerd
Ernests Gulbis tennis racquet

I often get e-mails about racquets and strings and other various tennis things. I thought I’d share a recent one about pro stock racquets.

“Recently I’m very interested in the topic of professional racquets. Unfortunately, the information I get is more like speculation and rumours. Here are my questions:”

1) Do all racquets – retail, professional – have their own production code?

Yes, all racquets have some kind of production code. Both retail and professional. All racquets are pretty much made for commercial purposes to start off. Pro stocks are normally just variations of a retail frame to personalize it to a certain players’ liking. If we take one of the most famous examples: Andy Murray enjoyed the feel of the HEAD Pro Tour 630 (pro stock code PT57A) but wanted a more open string pattern, hence HEAD created the PT57A2 for him. I don’t know any other players who use this pattern with the PT57A, but I’m sure there are a few. I do know that HEAD wants to stop the production of the PT57A, but a few stubborn pro’s still crave that uniquely flexy feel.

If we take HEAD as an example, one of their most popular pro stock racquets is the TGT 293.2 which is basically the pro stock mold of the HEAD IG Prestige MP. So they produce the hairpin for the player (weighs around 300 grams) and then they will add weight to, a customized grip shape etc to make sure the racquet fits the player like a glove. If you buy the HEAD IG Prestige MP in the shops, you’ll get it with the weight already added, making it perfect for some, too heavy for others and too light for a few recreational players. This is simply a task for the racquet company to find a spec that will fit the racquet and the player demographic well and most of the time they do a pretty good job at it in my opinion. The HEAD IG Prestige MP was 320 grams unstrung and could be played as is or with some lead tape and a leather grip. A pro would be fine using this retail racquet in a tournament, but they want all their racquets matched to the same spec and that’s what HEAD or a racquet customizing company like P1 does for them.

There is more mystery around some other pro stocks. For example Novak Djokovic’s racquet which has the code PT113B. What is underneath the paint? Some say it’s some form of Radical, either the Ti Radical or the HEAD LM Radical Tour that he used to play with (2005).

2) Is it a rule that each racquet brand has several versions – one retail and several different professional? And what are the main differences between professional and retail versions? Material, dimensions, stiffness of the frame? Something else? Or are they the same, except that pro stock frames are “empty” inside?

There are some pro stock molds that have so far never been available in retail form. One example is Wilson H22 (their imitation of the HEAD Radical line), but mostly a pro stock is used a “stripped-down” form of a retail racquet. With stripped down I mean ready for customization by a racquet tech. There is no secret material in pro stock tennis racquets. They don’t get technically better racquets, they’re just “empty inside” and then a racquet tech potentially adds silicone or foam in the handle, customizes the grip shape, and adds lead tape to it. This is nothing you can’t do yourself so no real magic involved.

Talking about available pro stock racquets – as you know Wilson finally launched the H19 (imitation of HEAD Prestige) in a retail version called the Wilson Ultra Tour).

3) This question is off topic.
I read somewhere: “….Kuerten’s strike technique is more RADICAL ….” What does this word mean? Could you please explain to me what is meant by the term RADICAL?

I don’t know if “Radical” is a way to describe Guga Kuerten’s technique, but his forehand was definitely more modern than most players when he broke through. He put lots of spin on the ball and was the first top player to really use polyester strings (Luxilon Big Banger). Personally, I enjoyed watching his fantastic one-handed backhand more than his forehand!

Do you have a question about tennis racquets? It might become a post! Just comment below.

***

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15 comments

Ilkka Nenonen November 24, 2017 - 2:38 pm

Hey!

I didn’t realize The Ultra tour is a retail h19. Considering that h19’s stiffness rating is usually 57, and ultra tours 63, doesn’t this make it a totally different racquet when talking about feel? Even though the frames dimensions (throat shape, beam width and head shape and size) would be the same.

Cheers

-Ilkka

Reply
Tennisnerd November 24, 2017 - 2:40 pm

Moi!
I think the listed RA of 63 is too high, it feels much softer than that. I played a pro stock H19 and a Ultra Tour side to side and couldn’t really feel any difference. So to me, the Wilson Ultra Tour is pretty much a H19.

Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Saša Stani? November 25, 2017 - 4:22 am

Hej:)

Thank you both for these comments, I really was wondering since I just started testing Ultra Tour. Seems very light and flexy, will customize though.

Bye

Reply
Luis December 4, 2017 - 9:18 pm

im sure there are stiffness variations to H19 just like the many versions of PT57

Reply
Tennisnerd December 6, 2017 - 9:39 am

Yes, there are!

Reply
Robin March 8, 2018 - 4:23 pm

Hi Jonas,

There is a difference between the ultra and h19. I got them both, and the h22 and head tgk223,2. You have more easy power and feel with the h19 then with the ultra. Even if you bring them to the same specs. And more precision! The h19 is just a superior frame. And its more comfortable. I felt it right away due to my arm and shoulderinjury.

And Gustavo Kuerten was one of the first players with poly, next to Andre Agassi!

I always used big banger alu power, love it, but i recently switched to the Diadem Solstice Power 17, better for my arm and plays great!!

Greetz Robin

Reply
Tennisnerd March 9, 2018 - 11:37 am

Hi Robin,
I didn’t find much difference of the Ultra and the H19 when specced the same to be honest. But most H19s are RA 58-59 and the Ultra Tour is 63 RA strung so it is a bit stiffer on the purpose which can impact comfort and precision/power. However, for a retail racquet it’s a really nice stick.

I agree with you about Diadem Solstice strings, really nice! Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Omar August 27, 2018 - 11:23 am

Hi Robin,

Just a quick question: what Head stock model is Andre Agassi currently using (as per his training video on Udemy)? It looks like an oversize version of Murray’s PT57a with the Radical paint job. Thanks and keep up the great work on the site. Omar

Reply
Tennisnerd August 28, 2018 - 10:40 am

Hi Omar,
Andre is using what I guess to be his usual HEAD Radical Tour Oversize in a HEAD Graphene Radical Pro paint job. Thanks for your kind words.

Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Omar August 27, 2018 - 11:25 am

Sorry, previous email was meant to be directed to Jonas not Robin. My apologies! Omar

Reply
aa?xxxaa September 23, 2018 - 7:37 pm

nice to know ??? aaaaa

Reply
Javier September 24, 2018 - 1:45 am

When a player plays with an older racquet like Carlos Moya or Fabio Fognini both play with the babolat soft drive, how do they get news bumpers/grommets, since those racquets are not in production anymore? Do they get new bumpers/grommets from a racquet technician who made for the racquets?

Reply
of August 31, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Do you know if Popyrin still uses the PT57A? I saw a picture from earlier this year where he used a racquet with a 16×19 string pattern but no way of telling whether it’s a PT57A or some other pro stock mold under the Graphene Touch Prestige paintjob.

Reply
Tennisnerd September 2, 2019 - 7:19 am

Hej Oskar,
Yes, he does as far as I am aware. We have mutual friends and have met in Marbella so I can ask to make sure, but he loves the PT57A.

Hälsningar / Jonas

Reply
pbeam September 10, 2019 - 9:52 pm

I know about a rather more “involving” (on the behalf of manufacturer – one of the major brands) story, or example – about pro stock racquets and how they are developed and customized.

I do not entirely agree with the statement given as a part of your answer to the question 2. – where you state the following:

“This is nothing you can’t do yourself so no real magic involved.”

in regard to customization of the stock racquets (stripped down from the beginning) done by the companies.

The reason for writing this is that I happen to know about the story (first hand) of at least one former player and how the company customized the racquet he was using, and produced an entirely new stick for him, same materials and look, but completely different feel (at least in swing), based completely on very extensive, customized measurements they have taken for that very player.

I had a chance to try that racquet and it felt unlike any other stock form racquet produced for the mass-market, it was way, way better.

Reply

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