By Bob Wright – Pro Tennis Instructor
If you have never demoed a bunch of racquets in a short time, you’ve been missing out on a great opportunity for comparison shopping.
You can try different head sizes, dense (18 x 20) string patterns versus open (16 x 19) string patterns, wide frames or narrow frames, heavier or lighter frames, slightly different head shapes. Some racquets are even a little longer than the normal 27” length. About the only things you can’t test are string type & tension, & grip size.
When it comes to tension, generally the tighter the strings, the more control you’ll have. Conversely, the looser the strings, the more depth (not power) you’ll get. Looser strings can make it more difficult to control your shots. If you have long powerful swings, you probably don’t want your strings loosely strung. You already are able to get depth on your shots.
A heavier racquet will generally give you a little more power because the weight will help you hit through the ball. However, a racquet that is too heavy for you will slow down your swing & cause you to often hit balls late, therefore, missing your targets.
Most racquets have an oval-shaped head. If you’ve ever used a racquet with a teardrop head shape, you likely discovered that it moves the sweet spot upwards slightly. This can certainly help your serve since most people hit a little above the center of the racquet face when serving. You can easily find the sweet spot on any racquet by dropping a ball near the center of the racquet many times in quick succession (bouncing the ball back into the hand that dropped it). There will be an area on the racquet face that is a little bigger than a tennis ball where, relatively speaking, you can hardly feel the ball on the strings. Outside of this area you’ll feel much more vibration.
OK, back to demo day. I personally enjoyed hitting with different people & helping them determine what features suit their own style of play or what characteristics they like in a racquet. Just remember, if a racquet ticks all your boxes of weight, balance, length, head-size, etc., if it doesn’t feel good to you, you need a different racquet. Feel is the most important aspect of the racquet. If it feels good, even if you don’t control your shots immediately, stick with that racquet.