Tennis Radar: Modern Classics

by: Justin diFeliciantonio | June 13, 2012

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TENNIS.com

In this edition of Tennis Radar, we take a stroll through the Hall of Frames and look back at four classic racquets: the Head Ti.S6, Prince Graphite Oversize, Völkl V1 Classic Midplus, and Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85. Though perhaps past their prime, these retro sticks can still pack a punch—and surprisingly enough, can still be bought new.

*****

—Head TI.S6

HeadPRICE: $80
HEAD SIZE: 115 sq. in.
LENGTH: 27.75 in.
WEIGHT: 8.9 oz. (strung)
BALANCE: 8 pts. HH (strung)
BEAM WIDTH: 28.5mm
STRING PATTERN: 16 x 19
IDEAL SWING: Short to Medium
NTRP: 3.0 to 4.0

If you play in a beginner or intermediate doubles league, chances are you’ve come across an opponent brandishing—or have yourself brandished—a Head TI.S6. The stick was launched in October of 1997, and that next year became the top-selling racquet in the world. Featuring titanium alloy for a light-weight construction, the TI.S6 was, at the time, the lightest tennis racquet ever made. Nearly 15 years after its release, the stick remains a club favorite, because of its generous sweet spot and easy power and maneuverability.

From the Archives: “The sense of ‘weightlessness’ you’ll feel the first time you pick up the…TI.S6 will immediately conjure up all sorts of advantage-you situations, like hitting running crosscourt forehands with ease or fending off screaming passing shots. For senior players who maybe don’t get around much anymore, it could be a fountain of youth dream come true.”—Gear editor Bill Gray, in the January 1998 issue of TENNIS magazine

*****

Prince Original Graphite Oversize

PrincePRICE: $129
HEAD SIZE: 107 sq. in.
LENGTH: 27 in.
WEIGHT: 12.2 oz. (strung)
BALANCE: 7 pts. HL (strung)
BEAM WIDTH: 19mm
STRING PATTERN: 16 x 19
IDEAL SWING: Medium to Long
NTRP: 4.5+

The first Prince Original Graphite was introduced in 1980, and soon became racquet of choice for rec. players and pros alike. (Michael Chang famously wielded the frame, as did Gabriela Sabatini and Andre Agassi.) As an oversized player’s frame, the Graphite was and remains unique. Its hefty weight, head-light balance, and thin cross-section provide classic feel, while its added head size allows for extra margin. With its distinct access to both power and control, it’s no wonder that stick keeps on seducing players today.

From the Archives: “I would caution against trying to overpower the ball with the Prince Graphite. Its powerful and responsive frame, together with its longer strings, catapults the ball toward your opponent—making hard, uncontrolled strokes unnecessary and counterproductive. Concentrate on a controlled stroke and let the racquet provide the power.”—Gear editor Tracy Leonard, from the July 1980 issue of TENNIS magazine

*****

Völkl V1 Classic Midplus

400161PRICE: $159
HEAD SIZE: 102 sq. in.
LENGTH: 27 in.
WEIGHT: 10.8 oz. (strung)
BALANCE: 1 pts. HL (strung)
BEAM WIDTH: 25-22-28mm
STRING PATTERN: 16 x 19
IDEAL SWING: Medium
NTRP: 3.5 to 4.5

Introduced in 1994, the Völkl V1 Classic was the first of the now-ubiquitous “tweener” frames, blending the characteristics of beginner-intermediate and advanced players’ sticks. The V1 debuted with several novel technologies, including Big Grommets (aptly described) and Dual Dampening Grips, a new form of shock absorption in the handle. What ensued? Easy, controllable power and added comfort upon impact—a combo that’s still a hit with club-level players, as is the V1 Classic itself.

From the Archives: “A virtual extension of the arm. Takes orders well and carries them out even better.”—Gear editor Bill Gray, in the March 1995 issue of TENNIS magazine

*****

Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85

WilsPRICE: $149
HEAD SIZE: 85 sq. in.
LENGTH: 27 in.
WEIGHT: 12.5 oz. (strung)
BALANCE: 10 pts. HL (strung)
BEAM WIDTH: 17mm
STRING PATTERN: 16 x 18
IDEAL SWING: Long
NTRP: 5.0+

Since its release in 1983, the Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 has established itself as one of, if not the, epitomic player’s frames of the modern era. It’s no surprise the Pro Staff was companion to Pete Sampras and, in his younger years, Roger Federer; substantial weight, extra head-light balance, and a classic beam make for a solid, scalpel-like feel—that is, if you’re skilled enough to connect with the stick’s penny-sized sweet spot. Compared with today’s standard, the Pro Staff’s 85 sq. in. head is conspicuously small. But anachronism or not, the stick continues to be the consummate tool of the tennis purist.

From the Archives: "Wilson designers have come up with a wonderful serve-and-volley frame in the Pro Staff Midsize [83 sq. in.]. That's because it's balance extremely head light for excellent maneuverability at the net and it's quite stiff."—Tracy Leonard's testing notes, in the June 1985 issue of TENNIS magazine

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