How We Test: Racquet Playtesting at TENNIS
We received at least four samples of every racquet reviewed. Each model was strung with the manufacturer’s recommended string and tension to optimize the frame’s playing characteristics. The racquets were then distributed to playtesters based on their level of play (NTRP 3.0 to NTRP 5.0). TENNIS editors and recreational players participated in our evaluations, with TENNIS' racquet advisor Bruce Levine lending his expertise throughout the process. All racquets were playtested at tennis clubs around the New York metropolitan area. To read more about these clubs, click here.
Racquets were evaluated using a number of criteria, including power, control, comfort, maneuverability, and overall playability. Each tester was encouraged to try a racquet for as long as it took to get a feel for its particular playing characteristics. In some cases, testers returned to a frame a week after they first hit with it just to be sure that they liked (or hated) it.
We also compiled quantitative data—such as racquet length, weight, head size, balance, and beam width—so players can compare the frames’ specifications. (All values, unless otherwise noted, represent strung racquets.) This list of specs appears here.
It will take some time to digest all the information in this guide. But when you find that special racquet, one that feels like an extension of your arm, you’ll know it was time well spent.—J.D.
2012 Racquet Reviews
Continue to Page 2 for a comprehensive listing of our terminology as well as all racquets' specifications.
Click on the picture to expand the chart.
To make it easier to compare racquets, we’ve filled this chart with all the pertinent technical information. Head size
is the area of the racquet head in square inches. The bigger the head, the bigger the sweet spot, and vice versa. Length
is measured from the cap of the handle to the top of the head. Longer racquets give you more leverage on serves and greater reach on volleys; shorter racquets are more maneuverable. Stationary weight
is how much the racquet weighs when strung. A light racquet will be more maneuverable; a heavy frame will be more stable. In the Balance
column, HH stands for head heavy and HL for head light. Pt. stands for 1 point, which represents a 1/8th inch difference between the racquet’s balance and its midpoint. Swingweight
is how heavy the racquet feels when you swing it as measured by a Racquet Diagnostic Center; the lower the number, the greater the maneuverability. Flexibility
refers to the racquet’s construction. A flexible frame bends more and gives you additional control and feel, while stiffer beams offer more power but less control. We categorized frames as flexible, firm, stiff, and very stiff. Beam width
is a measure of the thickness of a racquet’s sidewalls. Some frames have a constant width (one number), while others taper from one width at the top of the head to another at the base of the head (listed as two or three numbers). Thick racquets tend to be stiffer and more powerful, while thin frames are more flexible and provide better feedback. String pattern
lists the number of main strings (up and down) first and crosses (side to side) second. The tighter a string pattern, the stiffer and more control-oriented the stringbed is; the more open the string pattern, the looser and more powerful the stringbed is. Ideal swing
is the type of swing for which the racquet is best suited. Typically, beginners have more compact, slower strokes and advanced players have longer, faster strokes. NTRP
recommendations will help you target racquets that are appropriate for your skill level. If you don’t know what your NTRP rating is, ask a tennis pro. (If you’re a beginner, start by looking for racquets that have an NTRP recommendation of 2.5 or 3.0.) Price
is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
For the full list of reviews, go to Page 1.