Welcome to part two of a four part series on tennis sent to us from and what is needed to perfect your game Sport Fitness Advisor while playing at a distance, which is so imperative given COVID-19.
This refers to the amount of deflection that the frame experiences after contact with the ball. Like we noted above, the stiffness of the frame has a huge impact on power.
Stiffer frames bend less after contact with the ball, which in turn means that less energy gets lost. More flexible frames, on the other hand, bend more, which translates to greater energy loss.
There is a common misconception among some players that flexible frames result in more power due to the catapult effect. However, this is not true.
The ball is usually in contact with the strings for about 3-5 milliseconds, which is not enough time for the catapult effect to kick in.
This means that none of the energy is returned to the ball. All of it gets absorbed by the frame. The less stiff the frame, the more the energy that gets absorbed.
The impact of frame stiffness goes beyond power. It also affects your control and comfort. When it comes to tennis racquet, there is a general understanding that to get more power, one has to sacrifice control, and vice versa.
However, this is not a hard rule. It depends largely on the type of player as well as their ability.
For instance, some advanced players might opt for flexible rackets because the player has developed a long, fast and powerful swing.
For such a player, a stiff racket would provide excessive power, which would result in too many long balls. On the other hand, a beginner or intermediate player might find better control in a stiffer frame that doesn’t experience lots of deflection on impact.
Similarly, experienced players who have short, compact strokes might also find more control from a stiffer frame.
Again, stiffer frames are usually deemed to be less comfortable than flexible ones, since they tend to transmit more impact shock to the arms.
It’s good to keep in mind that comfort is a relative factor that cannot be measured accurately – whatever feels comfortable depends on the player.
However, if you have arm or shoulder problems, its best to avoid extremely stiff frames.
Finally, you should note that the frame stiffness also has an impact on the amount of spin. Generally, stiffer frames lead to less spin, since the ball spends less time on the string bed.
This is an important factor that most recreational players tend to overlook. The string pattern and density plays a role in the overall feel and performance of a tennis racket.
String pattern and density is classified into two categories – open and closed.
Open string patterns experience more deflection upon impact with the ball, which in turn results into greater rebound. If you take two similar tennis racquets that are strung at the same tension, the open string pattern will feel “loose” compared to the closed string pattern.
Since the open string pattern has wider spaces between the strings, the ball tends to embed itself further into the strings, which gives open string patterns rackets higher spin potential.
On the downside, open string patterns are less durable. Since the strings can move more freely, they experience more abrasion, which increases the likelihood of breakage.
Closed string patterns feel “tighter” and experience less deflection on impact, which leads to less rebound energy. Owing to this “tightness”, closed string patterns also have less spin potential.
However, they are significantly more durable than open string patterns. If you prefer enhanced control and you are not particularly concerned about spin, your best option is a closed string pattern racket.
These rackets are also a good choice for hard-hitting players who want more durability.
Our pick for the best tennis racquet is the Wilson blade 98 18×20. This is a high end tennis racquet that is preferred by many professional players.
The Wilson blade 98 18×20 is lighter than most high end rackets and has minimal vibrations. The Blade 98 delivers stable and robust strikes. It’s good to note that the racket is head-heavy.
This helps provide more power on strike and direct driven shots deep into the opponent’s’ side of the court. Some testers noted the racket’s blade made it harder for them to feel the ball at contact.
However, the Wilson Blade 98’s stability, pinpoint precision, and friendly feel makes it the best choice for advanced and intermediate tennis players.
At 320 grams the Wilson blade 98 18×20 has a solid feel and delivers controlled strikes from back court. From our tests the blade 98 18×20 delivers shots of 47 pounds.
The racquet offers good maneuverability and stability. It also offers a solid backhand and a nice slice, something that most tennis players will enjoy.
The Wilson Blade 98 18×20 performs optimally in all parts of the court. The precision and control offered by the racket make it possible to handle hard and soft volleys even when close to the net.
The strong tight string pattern of the racket offers the best response to volleys and gives nice volleyed shots from behind the net.
When it comes to serves the Wilson blade 98 18×20 performs excellently, offering plenty of pace and spin on the ball.
The weight of the racket translates to a high swing weight, but the control that comes with the weight is totally worth it. The weight coupled with the tight strings sends the ball nicely through the court at a good pace.
The maneuverability, precision and control of the Wilson Blade 98 is also quite evident on service returns. You will also enjoy the solid but smooth feel on chip shots and slices.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
The strong tight string configuration creates a muted feel; some players feel disconnected to the ball at impact. Some players advocate for more weigh in the handle to improve maneuverability.
However, you will easily get used to the feel of the Wilson Blade 98 after a few hours of play. Other than these flaws the rocket is an absolute best for tennis professionals and enthusiasts.
Step Up Pick
Our choice for the step up pick is the Babolat Pure Strike 16×19. This tennis racquet delivers appealing levels of precision, spin, and pop. However, it comes with a box like beam, and is less stiff. It offers the feel and explosiveness of Wilson Blade 98 18×20, albeit with a softer drive.
The racquet has a less tight string bed in comparison to Wilson Blade 98 and a slightly thicker beam.
Babolat pure drive 16×19 is universally appealing with a good feel and fantastic control over the ball. These features give the racket a light but surprisingly stable response.
Just like most popular rackets, the Babolat Pure Strike 16×19 looks impressive on paper. Surprisingly, its performance is at par with the advertised specs and technologies.
The light, smooth feel makes the racquet feel like an extension of the arm. The string pattern and tightness level make the player feel the impact on contact with the ball.
Owing to its string pattern, the Babolat Pure 16×19 offers more power and spin. The relative lightness of the racquet gives it more spin on shots.
On volleys, the Babolat Pure Strike is quite impressive. The racket has a good handle and control which translates to easy offense. These features are commonly associated with heavy modern player rackets.
The Pure Strike delivers powerful shots from the baseline deep into the opponent’s court, and it does so with a pop.
On serves, the Babolat Pure Strike 16×19 gives a good spin and easy control. The shots come with decent acceleration and power.
The lightness of the racket gives it an excellent long, full swing on serves and returns. However, some players will be put off by the lightness of the Pure Strike. It can also be hard to customize.
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For those on a budget, the best pick is the Wilson Tour Slam, which is a smart buy for any tennis enthusiast or player. The Wilson Tour Slam is best suited for intermediate and beginner skill levels.
However, as one improves their skill to expert levels, it becomes necessary to upgrade to a higher end tennis racquet.
For a low price tennis racquet, the Wilson tour slam delivers decent performance with adequate control, precision and stability.
The Tour Slam is produced by a well-known brand, and it is just surprising that they decided to sell it at such a low price. This racquet is a must pick for beginners.
It is incredibly light with a large head to unleash powerful shots. The string pattern is tight and robust to provide the much-needed maximum power upon hit.
The design of the racket requires less effort while providing more power behind the swing.
However, it might be a struggle to keep the ball in-bounds, which will negatively impact the choice of style of play.
The Wilson Tour Slam has a built-in feature to absorb shock and reduce vibration, thereby improving control and stability.
The racket packs moderate weight allowing for powerful and lower effort hits. Apart from being very affordable, the Wilson Tour Slam is also sturdy and durable.
On the downside, individuals with small hands might find it to be too large.
The Wilson Tour Slam is the best choice for those who are new to tennis and are looking to improve their games. For individuals taking tennis for recreation, this racquet is the best pick.