After doing a little on-line research into tennis racquets, I think I've figured out what I'm looking for. To start with, I'm currently using a Babolat AeroPro Drive+ that I bought a few years ago. I went with this racquet because, honestly, it was what my husband was already playing with and I didn't know enough about racquets to find something more appropriate for myself. I knew his Babolat was a decent racquet and I was using it while demo-ing other racquets so I just stuck with it. And that way I had two Babolat racquets – his and the one I bought!
I have liked this Babolat but now I think its probably too advanced for me (this is, after all, the “Rafael Nadal racquet”). I'm sure there are plenty of racquet innovations that could help me that I'm not taking advantage of. So, to figure out what kind of racquets I might now be interested in, I first looked up my current racquet's specifications (I just Googled “babolat aeropro drive specifications” and found them easily). Here's what I'm thinking:
Head-Size – My current racquet has a 100 square inch head. Racquets now go up to as much as 118 square inches. Head size is important because the power you can achieve with a racquet is directly related to head size – a larger head provides more power than a smaller head. It also gives you a larger hitting area and a much larger sweetspot. While I don't think I want to go all the way up to 118 inches, which might be a little unwieldy for me, I definitely want to take advantage of what a larger head-size can do for my game and go up several inches.
Length – My racquet is 27 1/2 inches long. Racquets usually range in length from 27 to 29 inches (the legal limit). A longer racquet means a longer reach so I definitely don't want to go down in length.
Weight and Balance – My racquet weighs 11.3 ounces and is considered “head light,” meaning the weight is balanced more toward the mid-point or handle of the racquet. Here is what the Tennis Warehouse website has to say about this type of racquet:
Heavier, head-light racquets– preferred by most professional players, these racquets are often referred to as being “traditionally weighted and balanced” racquets. They typically weigh 11-13 ounces and are balanced 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches head light in order to retain maneuverability. In most cases, these racquets are also referred to as “player’s” racquets because they are generally more control-oriented and designed for players who provide their own power.
Yikes! This is definitely not me! I think what would be more appropriate for me is a lighter racquet, more head heavy, which will supposedly give me increased maneuverability.
Frame Stiffness – I know this is an important factor, especially as it has to do with how much power the frame helps transfer to the ball and how much vibration it can send up your arm. But honestly, I'm overwhelmed with what I'm looking at so far so I'm not going to worry about frame stiffness too much yet. (But you can if you want to and look on-line at the resources given in my previous post – A New Tennis Racquet: Doing Some Research.)
String Pattern – Ack! I'm not even going to think about this one! (But you can read up on this on-line if you care to by, again, going to my previous post.)
Cost – This is not a factor that anyone ever lists as an important consideration when deciding on a new racquet. I guess that's because they would probably have to recommend you buy the most expensive racquet possible. But it is something to consider, especially if you plan on buying two racquets to carry around so you always have a back-up ready in case of emergency. My opinion is that my racquet is my most important piece of equipment, even more important than a cute tennis bag (!), so I'm willing to spend the money to get what I want. Just know that there are great racquets available in all price ranges so don't be deterred in your search by the expense.
Where does all of this leave me? Well, I've looked on-line now for some racquets by manufacturers I like. But I plan to talk to the racquet guy at the pro shop when I go to pick out some demos to get some specific recommendations. The good news is – at least I'll know what to ask about and won't sound like a moron. I hope. So my next step is now here – getting some demo racquets.
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