2013 Tennis Racquets
The challenge to today’s racquet consumer isn’t that there are too few choices; it’s that there are so many. Go to Web sites of major retailers, and you can choose from more than 300 recent models, each with its own mix of specifications—from head size, shape, length and weight to balance, beam width and string pattern. Add in other key variables that affect performance and feel, such as string (according to the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, there are more than 800 strings on the market) and tension, and the permutations are seemingly endless.
And that’s not even starting to consider the plethora of manufacturer technologies, which can alter racquets’ playability even further. While most companies this year are integrating existing developments into new makes and models, several racquet makers are unveiling new innovations in 2013. Head, for example, has re-engineered its latest performance racquets with a cutting-edge material called Graphene, whose lightweight, super-strong properties, the company says, allows for optimal weight redistribution and enhanced power and maneuverability. Wilson, meanwhile, as part of its Steam line, has debuted Spin Effect, an unorthodox 16x15 string pattern that, when paired with a monofilament, increases string movement and spin. And Tecnifibre says they’ve brought their T-Fights up to the standards of the ATP World Tour, namely by tightening manufacturing variances and injecting the racquets’ handles with vibration-damping silicone.
Indeed, navigating so much information makes hunting for new sticks daunting. Thankfully, this year’s racquet guide gets a handle on all this wealth of excess. That said, don’t purchase a racquet solely on the basis of our recommendation—treat the reviews as guidelines of racquets’ strengths and weaknesses, and demo those that are appropriate. If you’re in the market for a new stick, we suggest that you sample at least a half dozen potential candidates, then elect the frame that plays best. The notion of a “perfect” racquet is illusory. Even so, racquets are all different; some will undoubtedly mesh better with your game than others.
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