What are the best racquets of 2019? Here is the yearly Tennisnerd post Gear of the Year 2019 to tell you.
2019 was a busy year for Tennisnerd. The competition in the market place is increasing for both strings and racquets, which means more new releases at a higher rate. It is simply tough to keep up.
Many companies send demos to us for review, but often we buy and trade racquets and strings. No matter how we got a racquet or string, we will always be unbiased in our opinion. That is the whole point of Tennisnerd. We are not here to sell racquets. Just a small reminder.
2019: The Return of Plush
Now let’s get to the exciting stuff. What are the best racquets of 2019 according to Tennisnerd?
The trend in 2019 was that plusher, tight pattern racquets are back in force. Yes, 18×20 and low stiffness ratings are still going strong despite the increased pace of tennis. Players love being in control of their shots and some flex does not only improve the connection to the ball, but also comfort. With more and more players suffering from tennis elbow and similar injuries the world over, this was surely the way to go.
The most impressive launch campaign when it comes to marketing was the Wilson Clash. The car dazzle prototype looked and played great, the idea of making a powerful racquet with a thick beam with a very low stiffness rating was quite unique. So the Clash wins the innovation category.I tested the Clash Tour, the Clash 100 and the Clash 98. They are all spin-friendly, relatively powerful and easy on the arm. The 98 will give you a bit more control, while the Tour is the most powerful one.
My favorite of the bunch is the Tour. It is the most stable one, which is important, especially since the flexibility of the Clash makes the racquets slightly different in feel. Wilson calls the Clash the “control” racquet, but I am not sure I would agree. Instead, I would talk about comfort, because that is the outstanding factor of the Clash racquets.
The flexible feel is an acquired taste, but you can’t get away from the fact that these are very nice racquets and bring something new to the market. The only real downside I found with the Tour was that the strings move a lot so you need to string quite high and stay up on your re-stringing.
Still, one of the best frames released in 2019. A bold new racquet that has already found a large following. Finally some innovation in the racquet industry.
2019 was the year that HEAD made a huge stride towards the feel most racquet nostalgiacs missed. The new Gravity line (click for my full review) brought spiral fibers into the Graphene layup and what a difference it was from some other Graphene frames.
Back was the flex and the comfort that we knew from HEAD frames dating from the Innegra line and backwards. HEAD has always been at the top when it comes to connection to the ball and the Gravity line took me right back to that.
I tried the MP, the Tour and the Pro and liked all of them, but although the Pro was my personal favorite, I think most player would be find the sweet spot in the Tour. It is the most balanced of the Gravity and has a little bit of everything.
The claim of the Gravity was a massive sweet spot and the head shape resembles the round style of the Prince Phantoms and although not exactly as innovative as the Clash, the Gravity line offered great performance, feel and comfort.
In 2019 Tecnifibre changed their logo and branding to celebrate their 40 years in business and with that, they released the aptly named TF40. The TF40 was a beautiful mix of an old school and modern frame, the soft feel blended with crisp power and a tight yet, relatively spin-friendly string pattern.
The TF40 is easy to recommend to players looking for something like a softer Pure Strike. A brilliant tennis racquet well-deserving to be one of the racquets of the year.
Read my Tecnifibre TF40 Review here.
Yonex VCORE Pro 97 HD
The Yonex VCORE Pro line has always been appreciated by advanced players. Some generations ago there was a so-called HD version, meaning High-Density string pattern, aka 18×20. In 2019 this came back with the Pro 97 HD. The model landed in between the 330 gram and the 310 gram and it was the best of the bunch.
Despite a tight pattern and a stiffness rating below 60 strung, the Pro 97 HD offered good power and some spin too thanks to the Isometric head shape. The racquet was plush, but still not a noodle.
Yes, this is still a somewhat low-powered racquet, but if you can generate your own power, it is simply a must-demo.
Read my Yonex VCORE Pro 97 HD review.
Prince Textreme Tour 100 310
Prince is one of the most steady brands when it comes to more control-oriented frames. Their Phantom and Textreme lines are both great examples of thinner beams and plusher string beds that can still work in today’s fast-paced game.
My favorite Prince frame of 2019 was the Textreme Tour 100 310. It wasn’t a racquet which specs I would normally go for with a 100 sq inch head and a 16×18 string pattern. But the Twaron material in the layup created a connected and comfortable feel and the open string pattern still managed to create a penetrating slice.
A very well balanced frame for a wide target group.
Angell K7 Lime
Angell is a small brand, but its owner Paul Angell worked as a racquet designer for Dunlop for 20 years and developed some legendary racquets in his time. This experience and knowledge have now been moved over to his own brand and the Angell Custom program is really impressive. You can choose your own specs and quality control is one of the best in the business.
In 2018 Angell released the K7 Red, a very impressive frame with a nice flex and a comfortable layup with aramid to dampen vibrations.
In 2019, Angell released the K7 Lime, an 18×20 version with 10 grams more weight compared to the Red. The K7 Lime is a very plush and enjoyable experience to hit with. Great for players looking for precision over power. With a bit of lead tape in the hoop, you have an absolute classic in your hands.
Wilson Blade 98 V7
I also want to mention the new Wilson Blade 98, which also was move towards softer, more responsive racquets. I thought this was the best Blade since the kBlade and was really impressive especially by the feel of this racquet.
A positive new player on the racquet market is Australian TenX who produces a control-oriented racquet with a 20 mm beam and a slightly longer length. The 27.5 inches will help to increase swingweight, stability and help you with the contact point on serves. The length might take some getting used to, but the racquet performed very well and the uniform flex of the frame offered a nice hitting experience. I am very curious about what this company can do with the xStrike which is their response to the Pure Drive.
Babolat Pure Strike
Talking about Babolat, what were they up to in 2019? Well, the new Pure Strike was a positive experience, although I am a bit disappointed that they persist with the high stiffness ratings and won’t consider a proper Pure Control line. I understand that it isn’t always commercially sensible because it is more difficult to sell control-oriented racquets, but I think it would make their range more appealing and logical.
I did like the Pure Strike 100, but it was a bit too powerful and dampened for me to use it successfully. The comfort was definitely improved though. I wanted to test the Pure Strike 98 and Babolat was supposed to send it over for a review, but sadly I never got one and then other reviews came in the way. This is a shame and I should hopefully be able to test this racquet in detail soon.
A great year for tennis nerds
Happy New Year everyone!