One of the best ways to start this process is to talk to your partner(s), opponents, and tennis-playing friends to find out what they're playing with and why. This accomplishes several things quickly.
First, it gives you an idea of what is going on in the wide world of new tennis racquets. If, like me, you've been playing with the same racquets for several years, you'll be shocked and overwhelmed to hear all of the innovations that other players at your level are taking advantage of. Are you familiar with any of these terms: oversize head, ergonomic grip, arm friendliness, spin friendliness, super-size sweet spot? No? Me either. But some of the people with whom I've been talking, real players just like me, are throwing these phrases around like this is everyday conversation. They're playing with newer racquets and really believe in the new technology.
Second, I promise you – you are going to come across someone who has done a lot of the research for you. Take advantage of that. If that person happens to have a game similar to yours and is feeling good about their racquet, maybe your search for a new racquet will come to a quick and satisfying end. Even if they are not playing with your dream racquet, however, they can probably give you some tips on what to look for, where to shop and how to go through a few demo racquets.
Finally, find someone with a game like yours and chat them up about their racquet. What do they like about it? How long have they been playing with it? Why did they buy that brand? Did they try other racquets? Again, some of this information may help you shortcut your own search for a new racquet.
Now, be forewarned. Some people are playing very well with racquets that probably aren't the racquet that a pro or a tennis shop would put them with. I talked to a lady yesterday whose only reason for playing with the racquet she had was “I've just always played with Wilsons.” To me, that's as good a reason as any. My own cracked racquets started out as my husband's and I just took them over. So talking about racquets with other players is a beginning but, at least in my mind, is not the end of the quest. If I'm spending up to $200 on a new racquet, I'm going to do more than just talk to others. I'm going to put a little bit of time and effort into figuring out what is right for me.
And that's the next step – doing some “real” research.
© Kim Selzman 2010
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