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Home GearTennis Racquets What racquet to choose? Land of confusion…

What racquet to choose? Land of confusion…

by Tennisnerd

When you’re reviewing as many racquets as I do your head and arms go a bit crazy after all. Which racquet is your “home” racquet? What racquet do you bring into a tournament?

With all the testing going on at the moment it’s hard to now. Right now, I’m playing around with the Prince Phantom Pro 100P, the Babolat Pure Drive Tour Plus, the Angell K7 Red (review coming shortly) with various amounts of lead tape, the HEAD Liquidmetal Radical Tour and also a capped HEAD Graphene Radical Pro that I’ve borrowed from a friend.

Specs are basically all over the place with these racquets and so is my game.  I usually adapt my technique to the kind of racquet I’m using, a lighter, more modern frame, I grip it more eastern and try to ramp up the spin and racquet head speed (as well as I can, it’s not my natural game style) and with the heavier player frames I try to meet the ball further in front and hit flatter with a slower swing. This is the way I grew up playing tennis.

But right now I’m not sure whether I should use a modern frame that is around 330 grams strung or a classic players’ frame with 350+ grams strung. The dilemma is probably something a lot of players are facing these days. The power and spin of a modern frame is very alluring, but on volleys and for aggressive, killer tennis, the player frame is hard to beat. But it doesn’t give you a lot of free power when you’re defending and requires more preparation on each shot, which is what you need in the modern baseline game these days.

For many players, this decision might be easy, but with every other review I start to question my choices. Right now, I’m kind of deciding whether I should try to make the Angell K7 Red my main racquet or stick with the HEAD Liquidmetal Radical Tour that I’ve been using for a while. It’s definitely not an easy choice. Besides that I also have upcoming reviews of the Tecnifibre PS 300 which is a stiff, modern racquet and the Srixon Dunlop CX 2.0 Tour, which is a players’ frame that needs some lead tape in the hoop.

Maybe one of those two racquets will be the perfect blend in a frame that I’m looking for? It’s an impossible quest we racquetholics are on, but it’s also incredibly fun. In the end, however, it might not be the most suitable strategy for improving your tennis game.

My plan right now is to keep grooving and testing strings with the Angell K7 Red, give the Prince Phantom Pro 100P another chance, check back with the LM Radical Tour if it’s still as sweet as it was a month ago, and I’m also extremely curious about upcoming play-tests.

By the way, some new stuff for sale in the For Sale section

Where are you in your racquet journey right now? Any frame/spec that I need to try? Please comment below!

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17 comments

Blizzet February 4, 2018 - 5:55 pm

Hi Jonas,

Always fun reading your articles! Thanks alot! I agree that the journey never stops. Have the same dilemma and been trying a lot of frames. But have hit the DR98 quite long and gone back to it always after testing others. But now I have a Duel G 97 310 that I think tops the DR. Will also try string it as Chung in 16×19 soon. At the same time I have a Angell TC97 18×20 coming along with the older Ezone XI 98. Will be fun to see If 18×20 throws me off or not with the Angell. But Yonex are quite dense for being 16×19/20.
Old XI makes me interested since it is not as soft as DR. The old head shape also. We will see what comes out on top in this. 🙂

Reply
Tennisnerd February 5, 2018 - 1:18 pm

Hi Christian,
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, it’s simply too much fun to keep testing new racquets! I’ve heard many good things about the Duel G 97 310 and I do love the Angell TC 97 18×20. Curious to hear about Kyrgios’ weapon, the XI 98. Please report back with your findings! Cheers / Jonas

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Kirill February 7, 2018 - 4:36 pm

Hi Jonas,

Love your blog, especially this piece, which resonates, as I’m stuck too. So I thought I’d ask for some advise.
I loved the feel of the RF97, but the balance was a bit off for me and it wasn’t as maneuverable as I’d like (and too heavy to mod).
I then bought the BLX PS90 to try, as it was quite cheap and that’s my current racquet, but I only have the one. The issue for me now, is that with it’s current grip too small, I’ve increased the size, but now the weight is up at 375gr.
I can buy a second one of the correct grip size, but that would throw off the balance and weight, or I could search for another racquet that would suit me, i.e. heavier, somewhat flexible players’ stick, with a smaller head and an open string pattern. I’m currently thinking either a pair of modded Duel G 97 310s and strung at 16×19 or two Prince Tour 95s.
Would you, as the esteemed TennisNerd have any advise?

Thanks,
Kirill

Reply
Tennisnerd February 7, 2018 - 4:50 pm

Hi Kirill,
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, the RF97 is a heavy beast, too heavy for my liking too. Your two ideas with Duel G 97 and Prince Textreme Tour 95 sounds like a great choice both of them! Then you can add some lead tape without making the racquets too heavy to swing. I’d recommend you trying a weight around 340-345 grams. There are pro’s that play with this weight and you’ll get a stable yet manoeuvrable response. I honestly think 375 grams is pushing it a bit! 😉

Good luck! Cheers / Jonas

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Mike Won February 13, 2018 - 6:11 am

Hi Jonas,

I really enjoy reading your various writings on the site. A friend referred your site to me last year, and it’s been very fascinating to say the least.

I was a long time Head Radical user and until recently, went back and forth between the Liquidmetal and Microgel MP versions. I recently demo’ed the Babolat Pure Drive, Wilson Blade 98 (18×20) Countervail, and Wilson Pro Staff 97. I tried the Pure Drive a few years ago and liked it then, but did not like it at all this time around. I thought I would like the Blade because the specs are close to the Radical, but I really didn’t like this version at all. I tried the Wilson RF97 last year and liked it, but found it too heavy, so I thought I’d give the Pro Staff 97 a try. I really enjoyed the Pro Staff 97 and the local pro shop gave me a great deal, so I had to buy it! I think the title of this piece couldn’t be more appropriate!

Keep up the good work, and best of luck to you with figuring out which racquet to make your main stick.

Thanks!

Mike

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Tennisnerd February 13, 2018 - 8:13 am

Hi Mike,
Thanks for your kind words and your comment!

Completely agree about the Blade 98 CV version, a complete lack of feedback for me and I really liked the previous edition.

Hope you get along well with the PS 97! One of my top hitting partners swears by that stick so I’m sure it has some solid qualities!

Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Olivier Drinkwater February 13, 2018 - 3:05 pm

I’m looking for a racket that has amazing control. By that, I mean the ball doesn’t fly off the racket when playing aggressive full stroke shots. And the racket doesn’t twist or hurt my hand on contact with shots. I need a racket that is going to help me be really consistent on groundstrokes through practice. I’m a powerful player who plays high-level tennis. I want a racket that allows me to swing big without fear that the ball will go long easily. Obviously, I need to return big serves and groundstrokes too. Plus serve really well and hard. I also need a racket that doesn’t hurt my arm and shoulder. So a racket that deals really well with vibration and shock. Could you please recommend me rackets to buy that fit this criterion? In order of recommendation and with recommended strings and tension too?

Reply
Tennisnerd February 14, 2018 - 12:06 pm

Hi Olivier,
I understand what you mean. There are various choices, but low-powered and comfortable racquets are not that common these days. Without knowing what head-size, brand or other specs you prefer here are a few good options:

Prince Textreme Tour 95 or Prince Phantom Pro 100P
Wilson Ultra Tour
Srixon Dunlop CX 2.0 Tour (Ltd)
Older (pre-Graphene) HEAD Prestige or Radical racquets are all good in this respect.
ProKennex Ki Q+ Tour Pro
Tecnifibre Tfight 315 Ltd

For maximum comfort I would go with a Poly + Natural Gut hybrid. But if you want to maximize spin in a decently comfortable package I’d go with the Solinco Hyper-G strung at 23 kg or Luxilon Alu Power strung at 22,5 kg. Both string should go nicely with either racquet.

Let me know what you end up with and how you like it.

Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Olivier Drinkwater February 16, 2018 - 8:42 pm

Hi Jonas,

Many thanks for your response and for your website as well. I’ve read loads of stuff on your website and I find your page on ‘What the pro’s play to be very insightful and unique to find on the internet. It’s made me realise that I need to be playing with a heavy racquet with a very high swing-weight if I want to play at pro standard. I’m thinking of getting the Roger Federer racquet (RF97 Autograph) with Solinco Hyper G 16 at 57lbs. This is what Michelle uses at Tennis Warehouse and she seems to be a fairly similar player to me although she is a female and perhaps lower level and less physically strong with a more compact flat swing.

Reply
Tennisnerd February 17, 2018 - 9:14 am

Hi Olivier,
Not all pro’s play with a massive swingweight so you need to find something that works for you. The RF97A is a good racquet, but it depends on your game style. If you play with big swings with lots of racquet head speed, a lighter racquet than that would work better. Guys like Verdasco, Kyrgios and Goffin all play with racquets around 345 grams strung and I think even slightly lower than that is fine. I’ve moved from 360 gram racquets down to around 336 grams strung and I’m fine even against heavy hitters who play on the ITF Tour.

So the RF97A can work for you, but don’t think too much of what specs other players use, find a racquet that works for you and your game!

Good luck and let me know how it goes! Cheers / J

Reply
Olivier Drinkwater February 16, 2018 - 8:42 pm

The Roger Federer racquet is the heaviest racquet with the highest swing-weight of a high-level retail racquet, so it’s the closest I can get to a heavy racquet from retail. I can then add a little lead to it if I need more weight/swing-weight. I think the extra weight of the retail racquet will give me more control and lower vibrations to the arm than lighter racquets, but will pro level power. With the Solinco strings strung high, it will give me good control and comfort and not be too expensive to re-string every 3 weeks. I don’t think I’ll have any physical issues with the weight because I’m a physically strong player that plays full swing shots so I don’t think it’s an issue. I’ll be able to serve big and volley really well. What do you think of my choice? Do you think it’s the best?

Kind regards,

Olivier.

Reply
Olivier Drinkwater March 6, 2018 - 12:24 am

Hi Jonas,

Having bought the RF97A, I found that I really didn’t like the racket at all. It was too heavy and uncomfortable and I was having the same issues that I had with my Babolat Pure Drive and Pure Strike where they were rather uncomfortable and too powerful. After this, I decided to take your advice and get the Prince textreme Phantom Pro 100p. I have to say that this is a fantastic racket and I absolutely love it. It’s really comfortable, great feel and control oriented which I love. However, there were two issues that I encountered when using the racket. The first one was that I strung the racket with Luxilon Alu Power Soft at 50lbs (your recommendation) and I found that this tension for this string to be far too low. I found the string to play very trampoline-like where a lot of returns and groundstrokes were springing long. I read so many reviews saying that the racket was underpowered when in fact I found that racket to be very powerful for me personally. I feel the racket needs to be strung at 53/54 lbs with those strings or at 51/2lbs with Solinco Hyper G. Perhaps Solinco Hyper G is a better choice of string which you also recommended first.

Reply
Tennisnerd March 6, 2018 - 3:51 pm

Hi Olivier,
Yes, I think you need to play with a different poly. So called “soft” polys are usually quite powerful so I would recommend normal Luxilon Alu Power or Solinco Hyper-G instead! I would still try 50-51 lbs then. Let me know how it goes and good luck on the court! Cheers / Jonas

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Olivier Drinkwater March 6, 2018 - 12:25 am

Hi Jonas,

You also recommended Prince Textreme Tour 95 which relates to the other issue I encountered. I find the 100 sq inch frame of the Phantom 100p to be less precise/accurate on serves and shots as well as more powerful than say a 95 sq inch head size. Thus, making me think that that racket may have been slighter better for accuracy and control, particularly on serve. The only issue for me would be if I was mistiming the ball so that the racket twists in my hand where I’m hitting mishit shots, making errors, and feeling uncomfortable with the racket because the small head size caused less forgiveness on racket-head shot accuracy and timing. However, I feel this could be remedied through a lot of practice getting use to the smaller head size whereby after a bit it proves better than a larger one.
So my question is: Should I continue using the phantom pro 100p with a higher string tension and/or with Solinco Hyper G strings, or should I get the Textreme tour 95 with similar strings and tension?

All the best,
Olivier.

Reply
Tennisnerd March 6, 2018 - 3:59 pm

Hi,
I think the racquets you mentioned are both great sticks. But I would stick with the Pro 100P and get used to that one and find the correct string for now.

The more time you use a racquet, the more you will understand what it does to your game and the better you will play with it. Sounds to me like you’re playing well with the Phantom 100P so no need to change just yet. Although buying a new racquet is always fun!

Regards / Jonas

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Olivier Drinkwater March 6, 2018 - 7:07 am

Another issue I have is that when I practice doing a lot of hard flat serves, my right shoulder feels painful afterward. This still was the case with the phantom pro 100p, though perhaps less so than other rackets I’ve used. It also still has some vibrations though less for sure. My question is whether the Wilson Blade 98 18v20 CV would reduce shoulder pain even more than the Prince because of the countervail? Serves are a big part of my game and I like to be able to practice a lot without injury. People complain about CV in term of lack of feel and overly dampened response, but could that easily be solved by more practice with it? Raonic uses countervail, does that help him serve more without injury?

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Tennisnerd March 6, 2018 - 4:05 pm

Hi,
Have you seen a physio for your shoulder? Sounds like an injury to me and I’ve had that same pain after sessions.

I didn’t like the Wilson Blade CV 98 to be honest and it will definitely be stiffer than your Phantom Pro 100P despite the countervail.

Besides going to a physiotherapist, getting some treatment and working on your shoulder strength, I would recommend playing a relatively light racquet.

The Prince at 310 grams and 329 SW is not really super-heavy so you should be fine there, but if you have it customized to a higher weight I would consider changing to a lighter stick to ease the burden on your shoulder. But start with the talking to a physio so you don’t injure yourself more.

Pain and injury prevention is key to be able to enjoy tennis for a long time. I would also recommend a longer warm-up with a focus on your shoulder.

Take it easy / Jonas

Reply

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