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Tennis Racquets on a Budget

by Jonas Eriksson

It is expensive to buy new racquets. But you don’t always need to do that. You can work with what you have. This is “Tennis racquets on a budget”.

Some tennis nerds collect racquets, some buy, trade and sell racquets all the time. But not everyone can keep buying new racquets all the time. Most people won’t have the money, time, or interest to do that. But they still want more out of the racquet they have. That is why I wanted to create a series of posts called “Tennis on a budget.” Let’s start with tennis racquets on a budget.

A new tennis racquet can cost up to $250. And if they don’t offer a demo program, you don’t even know if you’re going to like it or not. Yes, you can sell it used, but you are likely to lose a chunk of money doing that. That is why there other ways to look at improving your gear.

The used racquet market

I am not a collector. I can’t afford to have 200 racquets in my office. Also, I am more of a minimalist and believe that unused things collect dust. So there are two reasons I don’t have the number of racquets you would think I have. Part of the deal of being able to do Tennisnerd is that I sell or trade many of my racquets. I rarely buy brand new racquets from a store.

Instead, I try to keep my eyes open for used racquets. There are plenty of sites. I am sure you have your local online marketplace where you are. In Sweden there is Blocket, in Malta we have Maltapark, in the Netherlands they have Maarktplats and in some countries, they even have dedicated racquet forums with a for sale section like Tennis Warehouse forums. You also have other global sites like eBay and Stringforum.

The used racquet market is HUGE. If you have a bit of patience, the racquet you’re looking for will likely turn up.

Why do you need a new racquet?

This is an important question to ask yourself. If you want a change, that’s fair. If you’re using a midsize racquet and want to get something that is easier to use, that’s a good idea. If you’re playing with a Walmart racquet – yes, you need to buy a new racquet.

But there are also ways you can work with what you have. Buy a roll of lead tape (cheap) or balancer tape and customize the racquet for more power/stability. Change the strings for more spin, control, feel, depth. Your racquet might be fine after some customization.

I have picked up racquets for as little as €15 and made them into really nice frames. Yes, they might have a paint chip here or there, but nothing structural that affects the playability of the racquet. I change the grip to my favorite HEAD Hydrosorb Pro, put on a Yonex supergrap overgrip and change the strings and the racquet can feel as good as new.

Sometimes we want a little “pick-me-up”

Buying things can feel good. It can feel like a kick of inspiration and something to get excited about. But beware that it can be short-lived. You might be fine with what you have. You need to approach it with a clear head.

If you want to buy a new racquet, there are always sales to look out for. My buddy at All Things Tennis offers a 5% discount and a free stringing if you use the code TENNISNERD and he sells the quality frame Mantis Pro 310 at a great price. Pro Direct Tennis , Tennis-Point, and most other brands also offer racquets on sale. I mentioned Mantis as a quality brand that offers racquets at a lower price point. TenX Pro and Angell Tennis are also smaller brands with reasonable pricing.

So you don’t need to break the bank to find a new or used racquet. You need to be creative and keep your eyes open. And if you don’t know what you need, check out the Tennisnerd consultation service.

Did you ever buy a racquet you regret? Or what was your best racquet purchase? Please comment below!

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Tennis Lion May 22, 2020 - 21:36

Although many shops allow demoing, using their rackets is always a bit restrictive as you don’t want to damage them, and you rarely get to fully learn a frame. At the same time I think you really do have to use a frame for a good few sessions each to understand its full characteristics. Therefore, if you are just staring out, I recommend buying 2 or 3 2nd hand frames with quite different specs just to understand the possibilities.

For example a small headed heavy racket (probably flexible), a large headed light racket (probably stiff) and something in between. If you give those three a go for a few months in various conditions and against various players, then you’ll get a better idea of what works for you and what you want out of a racket. It should be possible for less than $200 to find three fine condition used frames or models that were out no more than 3 years old. You may find that one of those three is fine to take forward, or that a new version with similar specs to one is the way you want to go.

A very good one to look out for is when tennis shops sell their used demo frames, typically when the new models are released, because some are often still in their wrappers. Despite the latest marketing, the essential features (size, weight, swing-weight, flex) don’t change much over the years.

Tennis Lion June 4, 2020 - 20:16

Good recommendations on cheap rackets, Mr Goran Becker! I came back to tennis last year and picked up a new $40 cheapo Wilson to start with. It actually felt great, but in session three as I hit a big smash, it cracked at the throat! I then went on to buy a $30 Prince racket, which also felt great, but after one session there was a permanent rattle sounding like something was loose inside the handle and lower frame. So lesson learned, I feel the quality control of cheap rackets is going to be very random. The best thing to do is buy a 3-5 year old frame reduced to half price as they normally are at most online tennis shops. I got a used Volkl V-Sense 10 320g for $85 recently. Or for an even lower priced option look for a reliable second hand / ex-demo supply. As you said, with new strings / grip and a bit of rubbing alcohol to clean it up, a decent second hand racket can probably be snagged for about $60 too. Some retailers even mark products as ‘used’ just because they have taken the plastic wrapper off.

Tennisnerd June 4, 2020 - 21:07

The V-sense should be a nice stick – completely agree that you can find both used and new racquets for a good price.

Hans Eggink June 5, 2020 - 07:13

I’ve been trading and collectIng vintage rackets for over a decade now and have had my best bargains found in recycling stores here in the Netherlands for prices as low as €1,50.
Recently I found a mint Head Instinct Liquid Metal in 9.0/10 condition, a nice 8.0/10 Prince Rebel Lite Ti and Phycon Ti OS.
On Marktplaats I found 150 new old stock Mizuno rackets (Ivan Lendl, Pro Classic, Pro Reactor, Pro Diffusion and the Japanese made Pro 9.2) for next to nothing.
If you are knowledgable you can find loads of rackets at bargain prices…..even cosmetically best up frames can be revived with a bit of TLC such as my 2 Wilson K Factor Blade 93 rackets…..bought for €2,50 each. After a fresh stringbed, grip and clean up they now permanentLy reside in my tennisbag…:)

Tennis Lion June 10, 2020 - 18:27

The V-Sense 10 325g is highly recommended. My specs are 340g strung but the balance is still really head-light. Probably about 9pts strung, so it must have been a bit light to start with. Very plush and manoeuvrable with classic Volkl feel. It’s not a power stick, but doesn’t feel unstable either. I thought about buying the V-Feel 10 320g at first, but that’s still twice the price. Hopefully, Volkl will consider making the V-Cell 10 an 18×20 because precise control is the only missing element in their tour type frames in my view.


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