Heavy Hitters: Racquets That Raise RPMs

by: Jon Levey | April 06, 2021

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Babolat Pure Aero, Dunlop SX 300, Yonex VCORE 100

Topspin is a valuable commodity on a tennis court. At its base function it provides safety to your shots to maintain consistency. Which is swell, but nobody strives for basic. A more aspirational goal is spin-laden strokes that manipulate the ball, feel heavy and are challenging to return. To do that, it helps to have a racquet that’s a willing accomplice. 

The frames on the list are no substitution for stroke mechanics. Applying copious spin to the ball takes proper technique. If you’re still married to a closed stance and an Eastern grip, no racquet will transform the spin level on your forehand from regular to Rafa. But if you’re looking to add extra rotation to your shots, one of these racquets will definitely help.

Babolat Pure Aero
Those players you hate to play because their shots are always jumping up around your shoulders? They use this racquet. Ever since its launch the Aero has practically become the gold standard in spin production. The thick, stiff, variable beam flattens at the throat to reduce wind drag and increase swing speed. To put that racquet acceleration to good use, wider spacing between the cross strings as well as oblong-shaped grommets at the top and bottom of the head create more string snapback. Where most racquets peak at 10, the spin volume on the Aero goes to 11. 

Dunlop SX 300
From the frame shape to the spin boost grommets, many of the specs and characteristics of the SX 300—the “S” standing for spin—resemble the Pure Aero. (What is it they say about imitation?) In other words, it too presents a platform that’s ripe for putting work on the ball. Dunlop’s Power Grid technology offers a string pattern that is denser in the center than much of the competition in this category, for a greater emphasis on control. But it’s also wider in the upper half—where most advanced players make contact—for added power and spin. So it’s a best of both worlds scenario.

Head Graphene 360+ Extreme Tour
Any Extreme frame is a capable spin producer, but this new model brings a different twist (racquet humor!) to the franchise. Stepping in for the Pro, the Tour is thinner, lighter and owns a smaller head size in comparison. The string spacing isn’t quite as spread, but it still boasts the 360 Spin Grommets which allow the main strings greater movement. Where the Pro could be overly powerful and clubby, the Tour is quick and controllable. Not only is it proficient at putting work on the ball, it brings more versatility to the court as well. 

Prince Phantom 100G
In addition to spin, most of the racquets on this list also pack a pretty good punch. This Prince delivers more of an openhand slap. But what it lacks in power—and some torsional stability—it makes up for with a buttery, classic feel, accurate targeting and loads of spin potential. The razor-thin, flexible beam seems to torque as it cuts through the air and snaps up the back of the ball. Combined with the wide open 16x18 string pattern, it’s ideal for spin players who value comfort and control with their rotation. String it up at a low tension with a thin gauge to give it more pop and put an even bigger bite on your short angles.

Volkl V-Cell 8 (300g)
I can’t honestly say that I recommend everything about this latest 8 from Volkl. It lacks the connected feel I’ve come to expect from the brand and can be quite unruly. But from a pure spin production standpoint, the gang’s all here: easy acceleration; 16x18 string pattern; grommet system that encourages snapback and extra spring. The result is a racquet that’s short on subtlety, but long on ground strokes and kick serves with tons of jump. Players who really like to hit a heavy ball through the court—and their opponents—should check out the beefier 315g version.

Each passing generation of the VCORE builds on and raises the racquet’s spin capabilities. The 2021 model includes a new frame geometry and strategically placed nozzle grommets—there’s a definite grommet theme in spin racquets—for more string movement. Depending on your playing style there are two worthy options: Baseline-centric bashers will appreciate the added forgiveness of the VCORE 100, while the thinner beam and heightened precision of the VCORE 98 should appeal to more skilled all-courters. In addition to their spin prowess, the frames also have a solid, comfortable feel at contact. 

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