Why a Professional Should Match Your Rackets, Part 2

My previous post on why a professional should match your rackets was one of my more popular posts. So, here is Part 2.

Just so no one thinks that there was something unique about the Head rackets we looked at last time, here are four rackets from a racket package delivered from Wilson. Rather than showing the different swingweights as I did before, check out the static weight of these four Six-One 95s.

The lightest of the four is 328.3 and the heaviest is 336.6 grams — a difference of 8.3 grams. As noted before, this is surely within the manufacturing tolerance for a mass produced item like a tennis racket.

But to maximize your tennis game, you should consider having a professional match your rackets so that the only variable in your tennis game is you.

Wilson 228

Wilson 331

Wilson 334

Wilson 336

Why A Professional Should Match Your Rackets

Ever wonder why you like one of your rackets more than the others? They’re the same rackets, with the same strings strung at the same tension, after all. What could be going on?

Remember that tennis rackets are mass produced commodities and there is an acceptable level of variation in the outcome of the manufacturing process.

For example, we received a package of with four Head Prestige Midpluses this fall. Before stringing them and turning them over to our player, we took the specs of each racket. Below you can see photos form the Alpha swingweight machine we use. The difference in the swingweight between the lightest and heaviest rackets was 13 points, and none of the four rackets were the same.

Lesson: don’t assume that because you have the same make/model of racket that they will be exactly the same. If you have one racket you like more than others, you should have a professional match your rackets to that one in terms of weight, balance, and swingweight.


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Pacific X Force Powers HS State Champion

In this post, I am going to do a little personal bragging on my son, Paul — but it also has a business angle. So, the business angle first: Pacific tennis.

Pacific ATP Image

Paul recently switched to the Pacific X Force racket. In 2009, Pacific acquired Fischer’s racket sports division and has been producing Pacific rackets with Fischer technology since then. The X Force is a 98 square inch, 295 gram (10.4 ounce) racket with a head light balance and soft feel.

Paul Pacific

Using the X Force, Paul teamed with Chad Hoskins and won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A doubles championship.

2012 NC State Doubles Champions

Paul’s team, RJ Reynolds High School, entered the team tournament as two-time defending champions. As described in the Winston-Salem Journal, Paul saved 3 match points and won 14-12 in a third set match breaker to help Reynolds defeat Raleigh Wakefield for their third straight NCHSAA 4A Championship.

Paul Backhand

Go Demons! 3 Peat!

Team Photo

Back row (L to R): Coach Brad Fisher, Oliver Otero, Jack Riazzi, Avery Hale, Paul Yamane, Thomas Edmundson, Chad Hoskins, Coach Christofer Wiley.

Front row (L to R): Nicholas McDaniel, Nate Rowell, Jimmy O’Brien, John Kretzchmar

Bag Check: USTA National Clay Court 12s

What rackets, strings, and tensions are some of the best 12 and under tennis players in the United States using? Stringing at the USTA National Clay Courts 12s at Hanes Park has given me some insights. Through 3 days of stringing, here is what we saw in terms of rackets. (More on strings and string tensions in the coming days.)

The most commonly used racket brands at this tournament are:

Babolat –32.3% of players stringing with us

Wilson –32.3%

Head –17.6%

Prince –6.0%

Tecnifibre – 6.0%

Yonex –6.0%

Brands not seen in the stringing room include Dunlop, Volkl, Donnay, Solinco, and Pacific.

Most popular racket models are the Babolat AeroPro Drive (including the lighter “Team” version), Wilson BLX 6.1, and the Head YouTek Speed. This is not at all surprising as these are the models endorsed by Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic, respectively.

The millions in endorsement dollars paid by these racket companies translate rather directly into racket choices by junior players. Of course, junior sponsorships help, and to be sure Babolat, Wilson, and Head are among the most liberal in doling out free and reduced price equipment. But many (most?) of the kids playing at this tournament could get full or partial sponsorship from any of these companies, so their choices are instructive.

One of the most interesting developments I notice in the decades since I was a junior tennis player is the decline of Prince among competitive juniors. Only 6% of players we strung rackets for used Prince. In the 1980s, if memory serves correctly, all of the cool kids played Prince. Now it seems to be more of a racket for recreational players and country clubbers.

I was happy to see a few players using Tecnifibre and Yonex, both of which make fine equipment. Compared to the Babolats and Wilsons of the tennis world, I suppose both of these companies must be content to be niche players. At 6% of the market each at this tournament, that may be right where they want to be.

Bag Check – Jan 27 – Wake Forest Men’s Tennis

Wake Forest’s men’s tennis team is getting ready to head to Lexington, KY this weekend for the National Team Indoors qualifying against Minnesota, and then the winner of Kentucky vs. Michigan.

Wake’s team has an exclusive deal to play Pacific strings and the players use seven different Pacific strings in their set-ups.

Here is what the guys will be carrying with them for these matches (tensions are on an electronic constant pull machine; if two strings, the first string listed is main string and second string listed is cross string):

Steven Forman – Head Liquidmetal Prestige MP
Pacific X-Force 18g and Pacific Power Line 16L (62#)

Carlos Salmon – Babolat Pure Drive Roddick
Pacific Poly Force 16L (60#) and Pacific DuraTech 16 (60#)

Jason Morgenstern -Babolat Pure Drive Roddick
Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power 125 (64#)

Iain Atkinson – Babolat Pure Drive Roddick
Pacific Poly Force 16L and Pacific Power Line 16L (58#)

Jon Wolff – Babolat Pure Drive Roddick GT
Pacific Poly Force 16L (59#) and Pacific Poly Power Pro 16L (57#)

David Hopkins – Wilson K6.1 95 (18×20)
Pacific Poly Force 16L and Pacific DuraTech 16 (53#)

Chad Brady – Head Microgel Prestige MP
Pacific Poly Force 16L and Pacific Power Line 16L (53#)

Tripper Carleton – Wilson K6.1 Tour
Pacific Poly Force 16L and Pacific DuraTech (53#)

Danny Kreyman – Tecnifibre T-Fight 320
Pacific Poly Force 17 and Pacific Power Line 16L (45#)

Zach Leslie – Babolat AeroPro Drive GT
Pacific Poly Force 17 (45#)

Amogh Prabakar – Babolat Pure Drive
Pacific Poly Force 16L and Pacific Poly Force 17 (57#)

Conner Sherwood – Babolat Pure Drive
Pacific Poly Force 16L and Pacific Power Line 16L (59#)