A few months ago I stopped my racquet search (for the time being, you racquetaholics know exactly what I’m talking about) to go back to a racquet I used to play on and off years ago – the Head Pro Tour 630.
The Pro Tour 630, or PT630, or PT57A as it’s called in its pro stock mould form, was created in 1995 and marketed heavily by Thomas Muster and Gustav Kuerten among others.
It’s a 95 inch control racquet with a distinctive flex (usually measured as an RA rating) and after Muster’s and Guga’s victories, it’s still popular today with players like Murray (16×19) version, Simon, Haas and many more.
The PT630 is very different from the modern sticks of today. It’s heavier in stock form than most racquets (around 325 grams unstrung) and with the way it flexes it isn’t very powerful. Still, it has a unique feel that players can’t get enough of and that’s why many pro’s are not looking to change their racquet – only the paint job.
Head Pro Tour 630 offers an almost unique feel and should appeal to players looking for control and arm-friendly racquets. This is far away from the norm of today’s modern tennis racquets which are usually stiff, light and large (100 inch headsize)
Babolat created the niche of stiff, light and large racquets used by so many young players today and other manufacturers (such as Wilson and Head) have followed suit trying to cram more power into their racquets. However power comes at a price.
Power and speed are things that attract people to tennis so this makes sense from a marketing point-of-view – just compare it to cars – but the problem with powerful and light racquets is that they can contribute to players learning the wrong technique and arming the ball instead of getting the whole body involved in hitting a relaxed, yet powerful shot.
It’s not easy to control all the power in a Babolat Pure Drive for example. You need to make sure you create a good amount of top spin due to racquet head speed to make a racquet like that thrive. Most professional players add silicone to the handle, lead tape to the head and then balance and weigh each of their racquets identically to suit their preferences. You won’t find many professionals playing a retail racquet without any sort of modification or customization.
So a lot of what you see players using on the court is a form of marketing. It’s painting over older models with the paint job of new ones and sell technologies that sound great, but who rarely has actual value when it comes to racquet performance. That’s why I play with a 20-year-old racquet, because I like the weight, the feel, and I think it makes me play better. It is also refreshingly “technology free”.
More to come on tennis racquet technologies…