The final numbers won’t be in for a while, but I was organizing my string reels for the ITF Pro Circuit Wake Forest Futures at Wake Forest University (USA F17) and thought I would provide this preliminary string check photo.
From left to right: Luxilon reels, Solinco reels, and all other reels (Head, Kirschbaum, Toalson).
At last year’s $15k Winston-Salem Futures, three racket companies dominated among the players. Together, Babolat, Head, and Wilson accounted for 81% of all the rackets I strung (recall not all players in the tournament strung with me).
At this year’s tournament, I saw much the same in the stringing room in terms of overall market share by the big 3, but a different ranking within them:
- Wilson – 45%
- Babolat – 34%
- Head and Yonex – 6% each
- Prince – 4%
- Tecnifibre and Pro Kennex – 2% each (i.e., one racket)
Babolat remained steady at 1/3 of rackets (same as last year), but Wilson overtook Babolat as the #1 racket, riding the success of the Blade.
I am really surprised to see Head not making more inroads with Djokovic and Murray as key endorsers and the Prestige being a classic player’s frame, but perhaps the overabundance of American players in the tournament (and paucity of Europeans) explains Head’s low numbers.
It’s good to see more male players using Yonex. I used to sell Yonex rackets and they were far superior to the big 3 in my opinion. The rise of Wawrinka and Kyrigos to replace Hewitt and Nalbandian is good for the company.
Three racket companies dominate competitive tennis: Babolat, Head, and Wilson. Together these three brands accounted for 81% of all the rackets I strung at the ITF Pro Circuit Futures of Winston-Salem recently.
By comparison, at the NCAA tournament they accounted for 94% of all the rackets I strung.
At the Futures of Winston-Salem, t he racket brands broke down as follows:
- Babolat – 33%
- Head and Wilson – 24%
- Yonex – 9%
- Gamma, Prince, Tecnifibre – 3%
The biggest surprise of the bunch was the Gamma RZR Bubba, a 137 square inch, sub-10 ounce racket used by Matt Seeberger, who won the Futures of Winston-Salem doubles championship with Julio Peralta.
In case you didn’t know, Seeberger also won two NCAA team titles, 3 NCAA singles titles, and 3 NCAA doubles titles playing for the D3 University of California – Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.
At the ITF Pro Circuit $15K Futures of Winston-Salem last week, I strung rackets for 34 different players.
33 players used all monofilament strings, including one who used a hybrid of two different monofilaments (Luxilon 4G S mains and Luxilon Alu Power crosses). One player used a traditional hybrid of Luxilon Alu Power mains and Wilson Sensation crosses.
Here are the brands of string we saw in our stringing room:
- Solinco – 38%
- Luxilon – 21%
- Babolat – 12%
- Yonex – 9%
- Pacific, Genesis – 6%
- Dunlop, Head, Tecnifibre – 3%
(Note that 3% = 1 racket.)
As I noted in my post on stringing at the NCAA tournament recently, the plurality of players using Solinco string is evidence of their success in connecting with junior and college players, and those connections seem to be percolating up to the lower levels of professional tennis now (which see a large number of junior and college players involved).
On the ATP World Tour, Luxilon is still the dominant string, but we do see more Solinco string there, too.
More in later posts on racket brands and tensions.
As noted previously (here and here), I recently spent 2 weeks as one of the official on-site stringers for the NCAA tennis tournament at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Although we had some competition from off-site stringers who aggressively solicited business away from us, the four members of the MOZI Tennis team still strung several hundred rackets. This included the women’s doubles champions from Alabama, and the men’s singles, women’s singles, and men’s doubles finalists (from Wake Forest, Stanford, and Texas).
Selfie delivering rackets to the NCAA men’s singles finalist
I personally worked on rackets for 49 different players from 27 teams. This included 18 women from 12 teams and 31 men from 15 teams. Although this is not a random sample of all players in the tournament, it is a fairly diverse group of players.
For these 49 rackets, the string tensions I observed were:
- Overall: 43 pounds to 63 pounds
- Men: 43 pounds to 59 pounds
- Women: 46 pounds to 63 pounds
- Overall average: 53.3 pounds
- Men’s average: 52.25 pounds
- Women’s average: 55.2 pounds
I find it interesting that even though men can generate more power on their own than women, women tend to string tighter than men. Part of this may be due to women generally using more open string patterns than men, but it is also the case that each player develops their own feeling for the optimal string tension for their particular racket and game. To wit: the highest recorded tension in our stringing room was 69 pound mains and 68 pound crosses.
Almost all of the players, men and women, used all polyester monofilament strings – 44 of 49 players. 4 players used hybrid stringing (monofilament mains and synthetic gut/multifilament crosses), and 1 player used all multifilament string.
A few string brands were most common:
- Luxilon – 31%
- Solinco – 20%
- Babolat – 16%
- Pacific – 12%
- Wilson – 6%
- Prince, Tecnifibre – 4%
- Head, Kirschbaum, Pros Pro – 2%
Pacific was overrepresented because I strung all of the rackets for Wake Forest men’s tennis team which has an agreement with Pacific.
Racket brands are even more concentrated than string brands:
- Babolat – 41%
- Wilson – 29%
- Head – 24%
- Dunlop, Prince, Tecnifibre – 2%
An amazing 94% of players used one of three brands.