Question of the Day: Advice for Seniors

by: Justin diFeliciantonio | October 04, 2012

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I am a senior (69 years of age) doubles player, NTRP 3.5. I have a good forehand, but my backhand needs work. I’m wondering about my racquet. I currently play with a Dunlop Aerogel Rush: It’s extra long (27.5 inches), and has a 108 sq. in. head size. I find this racquet to be a little unstable against heavy hitters, even leaded up at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. I’m trying to decide between the Völkl V1 MP and the Völkl Organix 4. As reviewed both racquets, I would appreciate any insight you might have. I am leaning toward the V1 because of its reputation as a fine racquet, but the Organix 4 is also very enticing. Thanks.—Louis Rizk

A racquet’s stability, Louis, is largely a function of its weight. Lighter racquets (~<10 ounces) are much more prone to twisting on off-center impacts than heftier racquets (~>11 oz.), all else being equal. So it’s not surprising that your Dunlop Rush tends toward flimsiness when challenged by a big ball; at 9.5 oz. strung, the Rush is a featherweight that’s designed for maneuverability and easy swings—not stability. 
(As Rod Cross and Crawford Lindsey note, in Technical Tennis, not only do “light racquets twist more easily than heavy racquets,” but also “racquets with a small head twist more easily than racquets with a large head. In fact,” C. & L. add, “that is one of the reasons that large head racquets became so popular when they replaced wood racquets. Because large heads twist less, it became easier to keep the ball in play.”)
So what should you do? The most cost-effective solution is to add even more lead tape to your frame. I’d guess that your previous attempt failed because you didn’t use enough tape, or because you applied it incorrectly. 
Basically, what you’ll want to do is weight up your frame by about an ounce—to ~10.5 oz.— without changing its (slightly head-heavy) balance. (This will involve adding weight to the 3 and 6 o’clock positions, as well as the handle.) To do this, I’d recommend that you consult with a qualified racquet technician. To locate a technician near you, check out the USRSA’s (United States Racquet Stringers Association) stringer search here.
If, on the other hand, you’re committed to purchasing new frames, and are looking for a Völkl, I’d stray away from the V1 MP and Völkl 4, as both sticks are smaller and less powerful than your current spec. Instead, demo the Völkl Organix V1 OS. (For a review of the racquet, click here.) It’s extra long (27.6 in.), and has an oversized (110 sq. in.) head size—both of which are comparable to your Dunlop Rush. But the V1 is also 10.5 oz and 2 pts. HL, that is, heavier and a tad bit more head-light than your Rush, which together should increase stability without sacrificing all of the maneuverability you’ve become accustomed to.
Of course, keep in mind that whatever gains your new sticks afford you in stability, there will always be some loss in maneuverability. But that’s the price to pay for playing against a big hitter; to compete, you have to pack some mass.
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