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View Full Version : Are racquets getting better?


neverstopplaying
07-15-2009, 06:31 PM
New products = hype. Hype = sales.

I believe most companies try to make better products. Unfortunately these same companies come out with new products because they have to, whether or not these products are any better than previous ones.

Personally, I think that I have better racquets to choose from today than 10 ears ago. I can play with a lighter racquet (11.5 - 12oz for me), maintain flex overall (for better feel, volleys, and injury prevention) and racquets are reinforced in critical areas (for more power). I get higher racquet speed, a comfortable hit, maintain control and can add topspin with the lighter weight.

I'm a big fan of what's going on at Volkl/Becker, Dunlop and others (some).

Comments?

Dgpsx7
07-15-2009, 06:45 PM
There are only a couple rackets that I have seen from any company with improvements since the K90 came out(just using it as a 2 year reference). Those rackets are;
The KPS88(I can't believe how good it is)

The PB10 MId(as a long time Volkl user I am impressed)

and possibly the latest version of the RDS001(although this racket is too light stock)

Infl8edEg0
07-15-2009, 06:48 PM
That's a subjective question. You'll probably hear a lot of no's, but that's just what I think. I could honestly play as well with a POG as my KBT. I just have the KBT because I tried it first. So my answer is no, racket's aren't getting better. Sure there are good, new rackets released but that doesn't mean they're getting better.

klementine79
07-15-2009, 06:57 PM
In the past 6months I've had the opportunity to hit with....

Head Trysis 260
Head i.prestige mid
Pro Staff 85 - St.Vincent

I can say that modern racquets have definately dropped in a) quality control b) feel c) design/performance.

A veteran racquet ho infrequently shows up at my courts and when I get the chance I always ask if he wants to hit around... In the hopes that he is willing to swap a swing for a point or two.

He always seems to show-up with a different racquet too... Great for my Retro-Racquet-Demo sessions. He hasn't showed up in awhile though...maybe too hot.

louis netman
07-15-2009, 07:18 PM
Mfg techniques have improved, but materials are of lesser grade and there is a higher resin/other material to graphite ratio. High quality carbon-fiber (graphite) is very expensive. It's what gives the frame its "feel"...

please see this earlier thread:

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=43865&highlight=lesser+quality&page=4

BreakPoint
07-15-2009, 07:20 PM
IMO, they are getting worse. I think some of the racquets from the 80's and early 90's are way better than most of the new racquets today.

Commando Tennis Shorts
07-15-2009, 07:22 PM
Hmm, this got me thinking: What racquet companies have gotten better in quality racquet production in the past, say, decade?

I'm thinking Babolat...oh goodness, I can't think of any others that have gotten better over the past decade. Maybe Fischer? I don't know; I've never owned a Fischer. Not Yonex, not Wilson, not Dunlop, probably not Head. Hmmm, interesting indeed.

Of course that's not to say one company I've suggested is superior to any of the others, just talking about jumps in the past decade.

DonBot
07-15-2009, 07:31 PM
I think the problem is we remember our favorite raquets from the 80s and 90s and think things have gone down hill. I think Wilson put out huge numbers of crap tennis racquets in the 90s in fact I would include every hammer ever made into that category. Prince had some real losers in there too, I don't mind the vortexs but I know I was always in the minority. What I think is better about racquets today is there are more brands and more realistic options within the brands. But in terms of technology, all the speed holes, magnets computer chips, etc don't make them play any better than they did in the 90s. I do think the one area where there may be a leg up is in the paint, I have been really impressed with the ability of the k90 and the few kps I have hit with to really withstand a pounding and still look nice. Each generation of racquets will have the few gems and whole lot of garbage, you just have to keep your eyes peeled for what you like. My opinion is it is a little easier to do so now thanks to all of the brands out there.

dacrymn
07-16-2009, 10:08 AM
Donbot wins this one.

There's this thing called nostalgia. We tend to like to remember the best of the past. Plus, we didn't have these boards or this obsession back then, so I'm sure these things weren't discussed this much. Now, wilson's been branded with bad qc, babolat's been branded with bad feel, etc. Plus, the racket selections so much more diverse now, and brand/model following is so much stronger now. You just cant compare the two.

SlapShot
07-16-2009, 10:18 AM
Donbot wins this one.

There's this thing called nostalgia. We tend to like to remember the best of the past. Plus, we didn't have these boards or this obsession back then, so I'm sure these things weren't discussed this much. Now, wilson's been branded with bad qc, babolat's been branded with bad feel, etc. Plus, the racket selections so much more diverse now, and brand/model following is so much stronger now. You just cant compare the two.

I agree. Nostalgia is a funny thing. There are a lot of good frames on the market now, and the selection is HUGE. Personally, I've been trying to be picky with frames I want to demo, and the list is 8 frames long. And that's just working with "ideal" stock specs.

The problem with time is that is really does a great job of separating the wheat from the chaff, and for every PS85/PC600/PT280/POG, there's a Wilson Profile, Prince Thunderstick, Head Ti.Whatever, etc.

Personally, I've found myself drawn to many frames from outside of the Big 4 (Wilson, Prince, Head, and Babolat), and have spent time playing with Fischer, Volkl, and Dunlop, all of whom are making some fantastic frames nowadays (not to say that the Big 4 aren't).

Zielmann
07-16-2009, 10:20 AM
Agree with DonBot on the nostalgia point as well. But I want to throw this into the mix as well:

I don't think you can really look at a frame from 15 years ago and say it's any better or worse than anything made today.

What I'm thinking, is that part of the issue is that everybody's game is constantly changing. You may love a racquet for a while, then try something else and find it's better. And what are you going to try? The new stuff that's easy to get hold of. So a new frame might end up being better for you than your old frame. But this isn't because the frame is new: It's because the specs work better for you.

The trend for a while was that frames were getting lighter and lighter, and also larger. The market seems to finally be turning around and going back to smaller, heavier frames. So the reason that so many people think the older frames are better is that they like the range of specs they can get on those old classics. There's just not many choices out there right now for the player who likes racquets with those sort of specs. I'm thinking in the next few years, we'll start seeing more and more frames that could fill that category.

BHud
07-16-2009, 10:23 AM
The last major innovation - that still dominates today's racquets - is graphite. All other "new technology" is just fine tuning. Babolat is the only company I know of that really brought something different to the market in its Pure Drive series...but it still uses a graphite frame.

However, through this fine tuning, the racquets have evolved to accomodate various nuances and playing styles, especially as players age. So I would say racquets have gotten better in terms of accomodating a much wider range of players than 25 years ago.

canadave
07-16-2009, 10:26 AM
Some excellent points made here so far--very impressed.

I'll add one other thought in the form of a rhetorical question--what do we mean when we use the word "better"? Do we mean, that they are a higher quality of materials? (several people have speculated that the quality of graphite used over the years in racquets has gone down)? Or do we mean that they are quantifiably better in some areas like vibration dampening, longevity, etc? Or do we mean something else entirely?

Words like "better" are so slippery....so many ways to interpret them semantically.

Rhinosaur
07-16-2009, 10:29 AM
I think the problem is we remember our favorite raquets from the 80s and 90s and think things have gone down hill. I think Wilson put out huge numbers of crap tennis racquets in the 90s in fact I would include every hammer ever made into that category. Prince had some real losers in there too, I don't mind the vortexs but I know I was always in the minority.

Or in short, "Good Ol' Day Syndrome."

I played HS back in the early '90s. I loved my racquet (Dunlop), and certainly miss those days, but just about any racquet I can pick up at a racquet dealer these days is better.

I, too, thought it could get no better than the Wilson Hammer or the Prince Thunderstick. I wouldn't even give those racquets a second look if they were available now. But then you've got your Prince Graphite or Wilson Pro-Staff and maybe a few other racquets that have stood the test of time.

I think Babolat has made huge strides, wasn't even on my radar back in the early '90s for racquets. Demoing a few models next week to see if they are worth a switch.

jaap deboeck
07-16-2009, 10:29 AM
Unlike recent computer chips or new plasma TVs, a tennis racket is NOT high tech. Try an "old" Agassi Signature Limited Edition Radical with 1995 spec and get back to me - it blows the paint off the "high tech" light Radicals of recent vintage. Try the "ancient" TW (Chinese) Donnay 107 or a 12 year-old Fischer ceramics graphite comp 105. There has been little improvement to rackets that is not tied to light ultra stiff "game improvement" types. The advance is in "soft" poly mono string not rackets!

Gemini
07-16-2009, 10:31 AM
I actually don't have a lot of nostalgia personally. I do remember a number of frames that I liked/loved from the past and thought were great. But honestly, my awareness of my own physical state/conditioning makes it clear that I can't wield those kinds of sticks on a consistent basis and expect to be competitive. As an example, I'm not a fan of the specs on the Head Radical MP but after hitting the new Youtek version, it's on my list of racquets to consider as a replacement for my dead Fischer Pro No. 1s.

louis netman
07-16-2009, 12:14 PM
Pardon my exuberance, but anyone who cites nostalgia is living in a world of make-belief.

We are all living in a throw-away society. There are way too many rackets being produced because they're so damn cheap to produce and companies keep finding ways to produce them even more cheaply... and the consumer continues to pay top dollar. Nice business model!

Plastic finds its way into just about everything, creating more profitability without any regard to where all this crap is going to end up. Trying drastically to find ways to ship it off into outer space, but not there yet ;-)

dacrymn
07-16-2009, 12:49 PM
Pardon my exuberance, but anyone who cites nostalgia is living in a world of make-belief.

We are all living in a throw-away society. There are way too many rackets being produced because they're so damn cheap to produce and companies keep finding ways to produce them even more cheaply... and the consumer continues to pay top dollar. Nice business model!

Plastic finds its way into just about everything, creating more profitability without any regard to where all this crap is going to end up. Trying drastically to find ways to ship it off into outer space, but not there yet ;-)

wait, so that means because companies (not people, specifically) produce more and with less cost means that...we can't look upon the past favorably?

What?

you do know that nostalgia is psychological, right? I don't know what plastic has to do with anything

bertrevert
07-16-2009, 04:28 PM
Are they perfecting anything?

It certainly seems that with the rapid changeover of claimed technologies, and the fact they are ditching them and not carrying them through, gives me the view that they are not perfecting them.

These technologies seem like one-offs therefore, and their worth just seems dubious as a result, moreover you cannot get any continuity if you go back to buy an frame after a while.

Having said that I thing that it is in materials that advances will come - it's just it's gimmickly at the moment. Either that or experimenting with the DNA of players! ;)

klementine79
07-16-2009, 06:22 PM
Are they perfecting anything?

It certainly seems that with the rapid changeover of claimed technologies, and the fact they are ditching them and not carrying them through, gives me the view that they are not perfecting them.

These technologies seem like one-offs therefore, and their worth just seems dubious as a result, moreover you cannot get any continuity if you go back to buy an frame after a while.

Having said that I thing that it is in materials that advances will come - it's just it's gimmickly at the moment. Either that or experimenting with the DNA of players! ;)


They have to compensate somehow for less graphite being used and the quality of the graphite which is being used.......

Graphite has gotten significantly more expensive than the rate of inflation would presume it to be... that or some dirty supply/demand tactics, as is involved with the diamond trade.....

Hey, wait a minute!!!!!....DiamondGel!!!!!!!..... The next big innovation... Diamonds, one of the world's hardest substances, fused with carbonized-gel at the molecular level, to create the most stable racquet known to man (until next year that is)...:p

BreakPoint
07-16-2009, 09:53 PM
I think Babolat has made huge strides, wasn't even on my radar back in the early '90s for racquets. Demoing a few models next week to see if they are worth a switch.
That's because Babolat didn't make racquets back in the early 90's. They were strictly a string company. They didn't start making racquets until the mid-to-late 90's.

BreakPoint
07-16-2009, 09:56 PM
Unlike recent computer chips or new plasma TVs, a tennis racket is NOT high tech. Try an "old" Agassi Signature Limited Edition Radical with 1995 spec and get back to me - it blows the paint off the "high tech" light Radicals of recent vintage. Try the "ancient" TW (Chinese) Donnay 107 or a 12 year-old Fischer ceramics graphite comp 105. There has been little improvement to rackets that is not tied to light ultra stiff "game improvement" types. The advance is in "soft" poly mono string not rackets!
Agree 100%. The TW Donnay Pro One Int'l, which was designed in the late-80's/early 90's is head and shoulders above just about every "new" racquet out today.

Cey
07-16-2009, 10:25 PM
Getting better? No.

What racquet companies should do instead of trying to make something better than a prostaff original or pc600 which they have failed to do many times. I would not really say they are getting worse though. The classic tour/player frames are still the best in that area but there is much more choice in other areas allowing players to chose frames that suit them the best.

The obvious for me sign racquets with new 'technologies' aren't better is that i would hit our 10 year old prostaff classic 95 over my dad's k6.1 95 any day.

imalil2gangsta4u
07-16-2009, 10:31 PM
Interesting topic to read.

kalic
07-17-2009, 12:13 AM
No. Over 90% of value of modern racquets are marketing. And you can realized that when you hit the ball very hard, against hard hitting oponent.

neverstopplaying
07-17-2009, 05:22 AM
Some excellent points made here so far--very impressed.

I'll add one other thought in the form of a rhetorical question--what do we mean when we use the word "better"? Do we mean, that they are a higher quality of materials? (several people have speculated that the quality of graphite used over the years in racquets has gone down)? Or do we mean that they are quantifiably better in some areas like vibration dampening, longevity, etc? Or do we mean something else entirely?

Words like "better" are so slippery....so many ways to interpret them semantically.

Since I started the thread, I'll provide my initial intentions. In no way and am I referring to the various gadgets that often get interpreted as technology. However, there is continual research in materials, and manufacturers have many more options in terms of refining racquet weight, flex/stiffness and in different parts of the frame. this is real technological advance. The game is definitely changing with so much more topspin and poly strings. Personally I believe that I'm playing better with my DNX10MP, M-fil 300, Pure Storm, RDD002T and I'm anxious to try out my AK90s and PB10MP that just arrived. No gadgets here, just evolution in technology

I've played with or own most of racquets of the 90s that are talked about much here: PS85, PS95 (one of my favs), POG mid, PT630 (my absolute favorite), were better in the sense that they were well manufactured and give an overall appearance of more quality. However I can't play 3 sets for 3 days in a row with my 370 gm PT630. It was this discovery that led me to give more consideration to the modern racquet.

Lighter, well engineered flex/stiffnes, I believe overall "better" for today's game. I play at an indoor club that hosts several of Quebec's top 10
under 18 - they're all playing with modern sticks and would never ever look at some of these classics that I brought to the club.

onkystomper
07-17-2009, 06:28 AM
A lot of research that is done by these companies is into how to make racquets cheaper to produce / use less of the expensive materials in order to increase profit margins NOT in order to improve the racquets themselves or give you & me a better racket... just a thought

backhand
07-17-2009, 06:39 AM
If by "better" you mean easier to produce a decent hit, yes. If you can find an old Pro Staff, POG, or Pro/Prestige Tour to hit with, you'll be surprised how unforgiving they are. (Also how solidly made they are, which can feel heavy and plank-like at hacker velocity.)

If "better" means capable of higher performance, no way. There's a reason that most pros use basically repainted versions of above. If you know what you're doing, you can get better feel, precision, predictability out of them.

red7flag
07-17-2009, 07:06 AM
I am sort of a dinosaur being in my fifties. I remember buying wood racquets as a kid. You felt the weight, but it was not listed. You looked at the grip. And that was about it. When I got back into tennis in August of last year, I was astounded by all the statistics the new racquets had. Weight, SwingWeight, Flex, beam, etc. There are now player racquets, tweeners, and beginners. Racquets that are best for all court or baseliners. Modern vs classic style racquets. Racquets for. Then, there are the model numbers that seemed to work differently depending on the manufacturer. Then there were designations used by a particular manufacturer. An example would be Head's L1-10 and S1-10. L being long swing or players racquets and S being short swing or tweener/beginner racquets. Once I read enough reviews (TW and Tennis.com) and threads, then put that together with playing some of the racquets, I was able to get some reference points. I get a lot better at predicting the feel of a racquet from these stats. We just never really had this when I was young. There are a lot more choices and you can dial in a racquet to your game better with that knowledge. Better, not sure about that. More choices, for sure.
Tony

backhand
07-17-2009, 07:20 AM
Yeah, I learned on a Kramer Autograph, can relate. But I also think there's a more insidious side to all the choices we get off on: They create a perpetual dissatisfaction, constant reminder we can find a better stick, get closer to the holy grail. All about seducing us into consuming. Or do you think companies provide all these "different" cars and tennis racquets and breakfast cereals just for the Freedom of Choice (cue patriotic music)?

BHud
07-17-2009, 07:21 AM
Yep...I remember when Wilson's tournament player's racquet line-up was based on 4 racquets in 3 different weights:

Jack Kramer Model - Light, Medium, Heavy
ProStaff Model - Light, Medium, Heavy
Stan Smith Model - Light, Medium, Heavy
Billie Jean King Model - Light, Medium, Heavy

I started with Stan Smiths as a junior and ended up with Kramers...all lights (which were a bit over 12 ounces).

My 80 year old mother (who used to play a lot of tennis in the 70s) picked up my new Pure Drive Roddick at 11.8 ounces and couldn't believe I could play with such a light stick...my how things have changed.

Gemini
07-17-2009, 08:23 AM
Hey, wait a minute!!!!!....DiamondGel!!!!!!!..... The next big innovation... Diamonds, one of the world's hardest substances, fused with carbonized-gel at the molecular level, to create the most stable racquet known to man (until next year that is)...:p


DiamondGel.. Sounds like a prescription for the stiffest racquet ever. Guaranteed tennis elbow.