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Gear of the Year: Part 2

by: Jon Levey | December 28, 2019

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Tags: The Pro Shop

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Adidas SoleMatch Bounce
Admittedly, the SoleMatch Bounce did not impress me right away. It looked sharp—although the outrigger on the lateral side is distracting—and felt reasonably comfortable. Yet it had the same initial wide feel of other recent Adidas shoes that I didn’t find supportive enough. The lacing system also proved a bit tricky, however once I was able to create a locked-in fit it afforded more rear foot and ankle security than I found from models such as the SoleCourt Boost and Adizero Ubersonic 3. The Bounce cushioning in the midsole is not as springy or plush as Adidas’s Boost technology, but the lower profile created more court feel and responsiveness for quick changes of direction. The Adiwear 6 outsole features an all-court herringbone design that was particularly dependable on slippery clay courts. 

Dunlop CX 200

This is the second go-around for this franchise since the Dunlop/Srixon partnership. The first incarnation was impressive, and this latest is another step in the right direction. Infinergy, a very light and highly elastic material, has been added to expand upon the power and dampening qualities of the Sonic Core already in the frame. The increased comfort and lower vibrations encourages players to hit harder, cleaner shots. The Power Grid String configuration produces a pattern that’s dense in the middle of the racquet, and wider at the top—more control when contacted in the center, and more power when you don’t. The line also gets additions of a friendlier Tour model with less weight and more open string pattern, and an extended version for extra leverage and plow through. From an aesthetics point of view, the black and red matte coloring and less cluttered graphics are big improvements, while the previous 2.0 tag line gets expanded to 200, recalling Dunlop heritage. 

Head Gravity
This brand-new line from Head feels like something out of the company’s past. The tear-drop shaped head gives the frame a wide sweetspot with respectable power potential, but it’s the plush feel at impact and precision that are so notable in its performance. It’s composed with Graphene 360+ technology—graphene is placed at strategic locations around the frame for power and stability, while spiralfibers in the hoop promote a cleaner feel at impact. Of all the graphene incarnations Head has rolled out, I found this one to produce the most satisfying feedback. Combined with the softer flex of the Gravity, there’s a solid, warm response that has escaped recent models which could feel hollow and sterile. The Pro model (pictured), with its substantial weight and 18x20 string pattern, was one of the best Head playtests I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. But there are various siblings of differing weights and playability to satisfy most playing styles. 

Powerbeats Pro
If you’re in the market for truly wireless workout headphones, the Powerbeats Pro checks all the right boxes. Every function you need to manipulate your music is housed in the earbud, meaning your phone is a bystander. The adjustable earhook design provides a comfortable fit with absolute security. And the music sounds great with dependable connectivity and exceptional battery life. Being an Apple product, you can shuffle seamlessly between your iOS devices signed into your iCloud. They’re also IPX4 certified, making them sweat and water-resistant. Unless your workout entails getting sprayed by a hose, it will stand up to almost any conditions. They’re not cheap ($250) and probably not a model for everyday use, but if you’re looking for a gym (music) buddy, they’re worth the splurge. 

Theragun G3/G3 Pro

Play tennis long enough, and the repetitive stress is bound to cause an injury. A few years ago, I was suffering from a nasty bout of chronic inner elbow pain. I stumbled across the Theragun G2 and it did wonders to help solve it. Now, there’s seldom a match or workout where I don’t use it to help lubricate joints and muscles. The gun provides percussive therapy to relieve pain, prep for exercise and speed recovery. The new G3 models improve performance with a 50% quieter experience—the earlier model sounded a bit like a drill—two speeds, an ergonomic, multi-grip design and increased power. There is a half-dozen attachments available designed to target specific muscle groups. The G3 ($399) comes with a built-in rechargeable battery with up to 60 minutes run time, two color options and 40 lbs. of force to satisfy most athletes. While the G3 Pro ($599) has two swappable batteries, an adjustable arm and 60 lbs. of force which makes it great for serious competitors and rehab specialists. 

Volkl V-Square

If spin is at the epicenter of your game, you’re going to want to try this shaped poly. Thanks to the four sharp edges of its cross section, V-Square takes a firm grip on the ball before releasing it with heavy rotation. It lacks some of the pinpoint control and connected feel of Volkl’s popular Cyclone, but on the plus side V-Square is slightly more forgiving with deeper pocketing and more pop. So, if you’ve found Cyclone too stiff, V-Square is friendlier and more powerful. And from the looks department, the lava color is a real head-turner. 

Wilson Triniti Ball
Tennis players are creatures of habit. One area they can be rather particular is ball choice—they may sooner trade in a spouse before abandoning their preferred brand and model. There’s no guarantee you’ll love the way Wilson’s new Triniti ball performs—it does have a slightly deader feel and hollower sound than the usual suspects—but the impetus behind its creation earns it high marks. Simply put, the newly designed core and felt of Triniti is built to last. According to internal testing, it maintains its liveliness four times longer than their previous models. That means Triniti can endure multiple sessions instead of cracking open a new can each time you hit the court. Speaking of which, the new design allows the balls to maintain performance without the need of a pressurized plastic can. Triniti is housed in a fully recyclable package, made from recycled materials. Yes, it’s more expensive ($5.49/container), but longer use and less landfill waste are worthy tradeoffs. 

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