Brand loyalty in tennis is strong for many players. It’s like Apple vs Samsung. Which racquet brand should you choose and why?
Every industry has a battle of the brands and it’s no less fierce in tennis. The main manufacturers fight over the top players to endorse as well as how to best reach the retail consumer. One way to do that is to create smart marketing and sponsoring the right players, but in the end, it all boils down to the product. Is it good? Which racquet brand should you choose and why?
Luckily, the quality of the different products is more or less the same across the different mainstream racquet brands. For quality control, I would still tip the hat towards Yonex as they seem to pay extra attention to the weight and balance factor. But for most players that might not be a huge thing.
I have made a post and a video about all the mainstream tennis brands on this website (and YouTube). I will link to them below.
Having worked in marketing for more than 20 years, I find brand loyalty interesting to study. There are some amazing examples outside tennis of building a brand that stands the test of time. There are many examples, but the above-mentioned Apple, Rolex, Red Bull, Nike, and Mercedes-Benz for example have all done a tremendous job in terms of brand building (not putting any value in the product they put out).
In tennis, the biggest brands are Wilson, HEAD, Babolat, and Yonex. There are other brands just outside this quartet such as Prince (which has an iconic history but a tumultuous past), ProKennex, Tecnifibre (still have to do a post/video on Tecnifibre which is owned by Lacoste), Volkl and Dunlop. Clicking any of the links will lead you to more information about that particular brand.
Some players have always used one brand of a tennis racquet and are not keen to change. Why? There is a specific feel around a certain brand of racquets. It’s hard to describe but if you have tried many racquets you notice it quite quickly. The construction, technologies used in the layup, racquet mold will give a brand of racquets its flavor. Another key thing to keep in mind is that the grip shapes and sizes vary slightly between the different manufacturers. This is the most challenging part of my life testing racquets – switching in between brands forces me to adjust my grip, which can take some time to get used to and trip your game up a bit.
I don’t have any brand loyalties in tennis. I want to give you an unbiased opinion of whether I think the product is good or not. I treat the testing as I would have received a blacked-out racquet without any connotations or history to it. That’s my main aim. But I know many of you have a strong connection to certain brands. Keen to hear which one and why below.
This is how I see the brands in one paragraph. They obviously offer a wide range of racquets and I’m generalizing, but this is how I see the brand heritage.
How to choose? Well, it is all down to what feels right to you. You need to demo and see for yourself. If you have arm issues, I’d recommend checking my posts on the best comfortable racquet, if you want power, check out my thoughts around the best power racquets, if you want spin, check out my spin racquets video, if you are an attacking player, check out my favorite racquets to attack with here, if you mainly play doubles, you’d want to check out my thoughts on the best racquets for doubles. And don’t forget that strings are at least 50% of the racquet. There is plenty of content about tennis strings on Tennisnerd. Here is my video and post about The Best strings of 2020.
Lots of power and spin, stiff feel, wide-bodied racquets, for modern players who hit with lots of spin. Players using Babolat racquets will tell you who they are for. Just look at Rafa, Moya, Fognini, Thiem – all explosive players taking big cuts at the ball. Read more about Babolat tennis racquets here.
Power and precision. Crisp/stiff feel for attacking players who like to get to the net. Think Pro Staff (click to watch my video of the history of the iconic series). A brand with a strong history of players using their racquets such as Federer, Serena, Sampras, Edberg, Courier, Evert, Laver, yeah the list goes on. Read more about Wilson tennis racquets here.
Control and feel. Known for racquets like the HEAD Pro Tour and Prestige Classic, it’s a line connected to flexible racquets where you are very much connected to the ball. The brand offering the widest selection of racquets. Players include Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Muster, Guga Kuerten (the list is loooong). Read more about HEAD tennis racquets here.
The brand likely taking the biggest market share in the last couple of years. Modern frames with their signature Isometric head shape for a bigger sweet spot. Similar to Babolat in not offering too many models, but keeping a feel and control-based line in the VCORE Pro racquets. Players include Denis Shapovalov, Hubert Hurkacz, Frances Tiafoe, Marcelo Rios and many more. Read more about Yonex tennis racquets here.
A brand that stands out for its history but also innovative thinking. Prince have remained true to their idea of staying different and creating something unique for the player. Iconic racquets include the Prince Graphite OS, but they do push the envelope with frames like the Vortex or Ripstick, while also keeping it classic with racquets like the Phantom 93P. The only top player using Prince these days: John Isner. Read more about Prince tennis racquets here.
Used to be called Major back in the day. Now owned by Lacoste. They have built their own niche in the middle of Babolat (stiff/power/spin) and Wilson (attack-oriented control frames). Solid players endorsing the brand: Medvedev, Swiatek.
All about arm comfort thanks to their innovative Kinetic technology. Actually, the brand creating the Pure Drive racquet mold (called Destiny), which was then sold to Babolat. Read more about ProKennex here.
Current key lines: Ki Q+5, Ki Q+5 Pro, Ki, Ki Black Ace
The German brand has been around for a while and has created iconic racquets like the C10 Pro, which is still going strong today. I have sadly not tried a modern Volkl frame in quite a while. It’s on my to-do list! Read more about Volkl tennis racquets here.
Current key lines: V-Cell, V-Feel, Pro, Classic
A rejuvenated brand with a solid tennis history. Easy to understand racquet lines and some solid players endorsing their frames like Kevin Anderson (CX), Miomir Kecmanic (SX) and Jack Draper (FX). Read more about Dunlop tennis racquets here.
This turned into a monster post, but I hope it gives you an idea of the main racquet brands in tennis and what they can offer you. Which brand is your favorite and why?