The most tactile experience in the game of tennis serves as a constant connection between the player and the equipment. The grip.
We select our equipment with care and the grip serves us no differently. But the options can overwhelm, from overgrips to replacement grips and cushioned to grooved. Then comes the tacky question. And not to mention the absorbency. While many players stay loyal to their racquet brand when selecting a grip, we’ve run through some of the most popular grips available from a variety of providers to offer up suggestions for what you may want to get your tennis hands on.
Typically the most popular choice for their lower cost and ease of replacement, selecting an overgrip allows the opportunity to fatten the grip slightly or create an even greater amount of desired texture or dryness level.
• Babolat VS Original: Used by Rafael Nadal, this is the thinnest overgrip offered by the French brand. The non-tacky texture has a dry feel from the outset, which stays dry even during sweat. This is an ideal grip for a player looking to create a different texture for their grip without changing the size.
• Babolat Pro Tour: While Nadal may use the VS, the vast majority of Babolat-sponsored pros opt for the Pro Tour, a tacky grip that increases in its tacky feel as you sweat. Babolat praises its high-absorption ability, which the grip does seem to back up during play.
• Dunlop U-Sweat: Enjoy the soft—and non-tacky—feel of the U-Sweat. Designed with the ability to absorb well, expect a dry feel even when sweaty, all while retaining a soft feel that makes it seem cushioned, even without an extra level of cushioning.
• Head Prime: A porous PU surface over a layer of fibers helps grab the sweat for a dry feel and allow the Head Prime overgrip to stay substantially dry when sweaty. And it all comes without a tacky experience. Expect a comfortable feel, especially from an overgrip.
• Tourna Grip: Used by about half of all touring pros, no other single grip has as much domination in the grip market. Using a proprietary fabric—not the popular PU that can be tough for sweat to penetrate—the Tourna wicks sweat away from the hand and gains tackiness when wet. A more cloth-like texture than a PU-based grip does cling to your hand, growing tackier the more you sweat and creating a unique grip experience.
• Vokl V-Tac: Designed for an ultra-thin feel that comes high in tackiness and absorbance, the grip—which is available in a highly visible neon yellow—has a somewhat slick tackiness about it, creating a unique tacky feel that comes smooth.
• Vokl V-Dry: Designed with a “technical finish” the dry feel offers adequate grip from the start. The grip does become absorbent when wet, proving the ability to remain in-hand even when sweaty. The dry feel remains, as the grip grabs the sweat, rather than produce a tacky sensation as many others do.
• Wilson Pro: Used by both Roger Federer and Serena Williams, you get a touch of cushion in this overgrip. The grip becomes sticky when wet, so expect a mixture of comfort and grip throughout your play. And this grip comes in nearly every color of the rainbow.
• Wilson Luxilon: Using a moisture-tack technology and fabric from Japan designed to increase in tackiness as you sweat, the Luxilon grip was designed for humid conditions. The soft feel of the fabric is unlike any other grip on the market. The Belgium-made product also comes in a gray color that is only matched by the company's Big Banger strings, putting this grip in a completely unique tactile and aesthetic category.
Players who want to strip the racquet down to the bare handle and create the grip of their choice will go for the more all-encompassing replacement grip.
• Babolat Syntec Pro: The best-selling replacement grip for Babolat, this is the version that comes on all the Pure Drive and Pure Aero racquets. With a medium cushioning and absorbent experience with a tacky feel, expect this grip to get more tacky as it gets wet.
• Babolat Skin Feel: The thinnest of the Babolat replacements, the grip accentuates the handle’s bevels and reduces grip size by half a size. Loaded on the Pure Strike line, don’t expect cushioning, but the grip becomes tacky as it gets wet. A nice mix of not-too-tacky when dry to extra tacky when wet. Thin is the key here.
• Dunlop ViperDry: A mixture of materials and a unique construction make the ViperDry a clever option. Using a PU skin layer over foam and a non-woven layer on the bottom, porous holes on the top layer allow this lightly tacky grip to better absorb sweat and stay dryer longer. This also comes in a thinner overgrip option.
• Dunlop Gecko Tac: With a PU outer skin over a PU foam and microfiber baselayer, the Gecko Tac is available in a full-cushioned replacement grip or thinner overgrip. Advertised as super tacky, we classify this as a medium tacky feel.
• Head Ultimate: With a micro-texture surface for added comfort and PU foam imbedded for additional cushioning, expect a comfortable, cushioned feel. The only downside on the Ultimate is the risk of a bit of slippage when sweaty.
• Vokl V-Sense Pro-Perf: Perforated to create breathability, this PU replacement grip offers a slight bit of cushioning in a somewhat slick feel. Meant to grow tacky when wet—all while drying through the perforation—the V-Sense never grows overly tacky during the process.
Tim Newcomb covers shoes and apparel for Tennis. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.