Babolat Maxi Team Backpack ($100)
While portable and more manageable than a full-size racquet bag, backpacks can often lack adequate space. Not so with the new Maxi Team. This backpack—not slated to hit retailers until February 2018—has the volume to carry everything you could need (and then some) for a day at the courts. A padded, large main compartment is deep and wide enough to house two frames, as well as extra clothes, towels or other soft gear. A second compartment has numerous internal mesh pockets for a can of balls and/or beverage, a zippered pocket to secure other accessories, as well as a secured pocket for a tablet or laptop. A zippered, ventilated pocket on the bottom of the bag can house a pair of sneakers and/or sweaty garments. And two zippered, external pockets keep smaller items protected and accessible.
Endeavor Exceed Tech Tee ($68)
High-performance athletic apparel doesn’t get much more lightweight than this shirt from Endeavor. The Evotek knit fabric has Trizar mesh strategically place in high sweat zones for superior moisture wicking and ventilation. Even during long matches in warm conditions, the shirt never clung to the body, and felt almost like wearing nothing at all. Its design has anatomical seams and stretch fabrics for a sleek, trim profile. It hugs the body, but isn’t distracting or restrictive. However, if you’re often between sizes in athletic wear it may be wise to opt for the larger one. Whether on-court or in the gym, this shirt will exceed expectations.
Lacoste Lounge Pants ($42)
They’re certainly not for performance, and probably not even for post-match attire, but when you get home from the courts these lounge pants are about the most comfortable thing you can put on. The Colours Unicolor pant has an elasticized waistband and a lightweight cotton/spandex construction with pockets on both sides. The Signature Woven Pant (left) has the Crocodile logo throughout its 100% cotton design, no pockets and a drawstring for adjustable waist fitting. We were partial to the lived-in, cozy feel of the Colours model, but either feels great when you’re just hanging around the house.
Having already produced the popular Tour Bite and Hyper-G lines, Solinco adds to its stable of strings with this upcoming impressive co-polyester. Another future release—this one won’t hit shelves until the second half of 2018—the charcoal-colored, softer for a co-poly string, has an edged/textured design, allowing for greater playability, spin generation, and power. The performance still promotes a high degree of control and is best-suited for heavy hitters and experience poly players. The company likes to include all range of players—juniors, recreational, professional—in the development and testing of new prototypes, and this particular model drew immediate praise. In fact, Sloane Stephens had it in her frame when she won the US Open.
Tecnifibre Rackpack ATP Pro Bag ($100)
Players who like their bags to be the picture of orderliness will love this new bag from Tecnifibre. Unlike a typical racquet bag, the Rackpack is shaped more like a duffel, but the unique handle system allows the versatility to be carried as a backpack or over a shoulder. It has five internal compartments and two zippered nets to make sure everything has its place. As assembled, it holds up to four racquets in the middle compartment; but since the compartments (racks) are in place with Velcro, they can be removed to make room for additional frames. The ventilated external pocket is perfect for sweaty clothes, and is big enough to carry two pairs of shoes. The bag is made of Ripstop fabric which is tough and water-resistant, yet remarkably lightweight and comfortable to transport. Storage capacity is a little limited, and the bag doesn’t hold its shape or sit on the court quite like a classic racquet bag. But if you like to know your strings, drinks, grips and extra shirts are exactly where they should be, this is the bag for you.
Polyester string fans will want to test out this pair from Volkl. The V-Torque Tour ($11/set) has a twisted, six-sided shape that really grabs the ball and rewards big swings with heavy spin production. Although not soft, it’s got a more comfortable response and better pop than a typical poly. As such, it’s not quite as durable—I got just about two weeks out of a set of 17g—but that does take the guesswork out of whether the string has gone dead. The V-Pro Blue ($8/set) offers a firmer, lower-powered response without quite the same access to spin. However, bigger hitters will appreciate the heightened control and impressive toughness.
The 3D Body Revolution by Donald Driver
Full disclosure: I’m co-author of this book. Gratuitous self-promotion aside, whether you’re in need of off-season conditioning, or simply just looking to get in better shape, here’s a blueprint to achieve your fitness goals. Throughout the pages, Driver, the Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver, relays his infectious energy to motivate readers through the three ascending levels of his high-intensity, muscle-building programs. The meal plans are based on smart, simple principles for a healthy lifestyle. No quick fixes or diet fads—just clean, sensible, sustainable eating practices. If you’re looking to kickstart your exercise regimen to shed a few unwanted pounds and improve your on-court performance, this book will show you the way.