Dunlop CX 200 Racquets
The CX 200 Tour (18x20)—endorsed by Kevin Anderson—has been available for a few months now, and it will soon be joined by two new siblings to the family. The first is another Tour (left), which has a more open string pattern (16x19) and a little less weight. It’s not as demanding as the Anderson, with more spin potential and easier power, but is still designed for a precision game. The other addition is the CX 200+, which is a half-inch longer than the standard CX 200. The extended length is trickier to handle, but provides extra leverage and power on ground strokes and serves. Both frames, like all in the line, possess the updated Sonic Core technology with Infinergy—an elastic material that helps absorb vibration and boost the racquet’s rebound at impact. Players who like more traditional feeling frames—like classic Dunlops—but with subtle nods to the power and spin of the modern game should give these and the rest of the CX 200s a look.
LIFT23 Atacama Performance Crew Sock
Price: $10/pair; $25/4-pack
Lightweight, moisture-wicking, with just enough compression and padding in high-impact areas, these socks will keep your feet protected on-court, or during any athletic endeavor. Made with a combination of Sorbtek, Nylon and Spandex the Performance Crew keeps your feet dry and comfortable even in tough conditions. The name of the company comes from the founder’s goal of lifting up the 23,000 children in the New York City shelter system. Their number one requested item? Socks. For every pair of LIFT23 socks sold, a pair will be given to homeless charities;10% of the sale price is also donated to CURE Childhood Cancer. And for a limited time, readers can receive a 30% discount and free shipping on orders by using coupon code: Tennis. Not only will you get a quality sock, but you will contribute to worthy causes.
Luxilon LXN Smart
Price: $20/set; $290/reel
The trend among polyester users is to string in low tensions to mitigate the inherent stiffness of the string. It’s easier on the arm, but the downside can be lesser control. Luxilon’s LXN Smart is the first string expressly developed to best be played at low tensions, with a recommended range of 44 pounds +/- 4 lbs. The black string can be so loose thanks to its ability to adapt to a player’s shots: It firms up on fast swings to provide more control; when easier strokes and finesse are called for, the string softens for enhanced feel. I’ve tried LXN Smart strung at just 40 pounds on both stiff and flexible frames and it’s still highly controllable—not to mention rather arm-friendly—at that low a tension. It doesn’t quite have the spin of a shaped poly, or the tension maintenance of some firmer options, but its overall playability is impressive. The string arrives in January and will be available in 16g and 16Lg.
Mizuno Wave Exceed Tour 3 AC
Mizuno has established its brand in the running shoe category—not to mention baseball and golf equipment—but is a lesser known commodity in tennis. The Wave Exceed Tour 3 AC is high-performance stability shoe, seen on the feet of Top 10er, Kiki Bertens. The Wave plate located towards the heel helps disperse shock for better comfort, as well as support the ankle to prevent rolling and foot slippage. This makes for assured movement and changes of direction. The shoes are also exceedingly light—a size 11 carries just 13.4 ounces. The design is intended to strike a great balance between speed, stability and comfort. Interested buyers should note the shoe runs about a half-size long.
Price: $10/set; $100/reel
Enhanced spin and a softer feel are the benefits of this innovative new polyester string. Combining carbon fiber nano particles with co-poly materials gives the string surface a slight “gritty” feel, which helps produce big-time spin. The tiny carbon strands are 10,000x thinner than human hair, yet 100x stronger than steel. This enables the string to be both extremely elastic and durable. The string has the toughness expected of a traditional polyester, but with a springier and livelier playability. Tourna Grit is available in 16g, 17g and 18g.
A racquet that’s more flexible than a wooden Jack Kramer Autograph, but as stable as any frame on the market. That’s the impetus behind this entirely new line of frames from Wilson. Pictured here in its “car dazzle” prototype cosmetic, the Clash gets its name by combining the usually opposing traits of power and control, and flexibility and stability within the same frame. Designed to take advantage of the more vertical swing of the modern game, the racquet bends in a specific way to create a deeper ball pocket and enhanced feel, while still providing rock solid stability. The racquet offers plenty of pop and spin, but its primary intention is increased consistency to instill more confidence to go for shots and aim closer to the lines. There will initially be two models available starting in January; pricing for the frames have not yet been released.