TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.
Hello Justin, I am a 52-year-old 4.0 player. I currently use a Head Microgel Radical Midplus. I hit a flat forehand and a one-handed backhand. I’ve recently started to play a lot more doubles, and noticed everyone uses an oversized racquet. What would I stand to gain or lose by going to the Radical OS or another oversized racquet? I like the control, comfort, and feel of the MP, and it doesn’t bother my tennis elbow. But I have noticed that I mishit more often now that I’m playing doubles frequently. I usually string with natural gut when I can. Thanks.—Carl Claybrook
Fewer mishits, Carl, are exactly what you should expect to gain from switching to an oversized stick, simply because it’s bigger. While the Radical MP has a 98-square inch head size, the Radical OS has a 107, giving it nine extra sq. in. of string space to connect with the ball. Although this extra margin will have little to no effect on service speed and spin potential, it can, for obvious reasons, improve your return game. And that’s half the game in doubles, isn’t it? Especially at a 4.0 level, the team that puts all their returns back into play, with quality, is a tough one to beat.
As for what you’d stand to lose: Maneuverability, maybe. Depending on their weight, balance, and overall head size, some oversized sticks, compared to midsizes, are a bit awkward and unwieldy. Which can reduce your reaction time and cost you in quick-fire exchanges at the net. But because the Radical OS’s specifications are, apart from head size, nearly identical to its MP counterpart, I don’t think you’d notice a severe loss in maneuverability if you switched. Sure, the feedback will be different enough to take some getting used to. But I think, given your skill level and the state of your competition, the Radical OS is worth a playtest. Try it out with your friends over the course of a few weeks, and judge your performance; if you’re more competitive, why not give it a whirl?
Otherwise, keep stringing up that natural gut! It’ll do your elbow good. Good luck.