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View Full Version : 3.5 Player Racquet Recommendations


bs406
01-27-2012, 01:02 PM
With the amount of racquets out there, looking for one is overwhelming. I am currently a 3.5 male player who is very athletic and fast and can play either aggressive or counter-puncher against hard hitters. I have a nice top spin forehand and a flatter backhand. My serve is terrible (have only been playing about 2 years) and I am looking for a racquet that will complement my game and help me learn to put more spin on my serve. I currently use the Wilson BLX Pro Open and it is ok, but I am not thrilled with it. Does anybody have any recommendations for racquets they think may be good for me? I really appreciate the help!

ATP100
01-27-2012, 01:07 PM
Add some weight/lead to it. It will hit better.

Overheadsmash
01-27-2012, 03:13 PM
That's a good stick - try some different string setups and tensions. In the end though, lessons and practice are what will help the serve and the groundies.

drkplayer122
01-27-2012, 06:43 PM
what is your current string setup? The strings play a big part in your game.

recreationalplayer
01-27-2012, 07:04 PM
Babolat Pure Drive 107. A much under rated racquet. Years ago I used Wilson but the Babolat's have a feel and playability that Wilson can't match. Compaired to Babolat, Wilson is like playing with blinders, or playing blind folded. The new Pure Drives have just been released so this is the right time to try one.

ArliHawk
01-27-2012, 07:12 PM
Demoed the Pro Open and I loved it. Use the APDGT and I love it.

RacketFever
01-27-2012, 08:46 PM
Try the exo3 tour 100 or the rebel 98

pheonix6579
01-27-2012, 08:55 PM
What are you trying to achieve by switching frames?

bs406
01-28-2012, 08:06 AM
I use Luxilon Big Banger for the mains and Wilson NXT for the crosses. I guess I am wondering if anybody has any recommendations for a racquet that may complement a 3.5 players game moreso than the BLX Pro Open. My big weakness is the serve though. I've taken a few lessons, but I just find it a really tough shot to be consistent with (especially the top spin serve - which seems like such an unnatural motion to me). I end up losing matches I should easily win because my serve breaks down on me.

Teski
01-28-2012, 08:21 AM
I use Luxilon Big Banger for the mains and Wilson NXT for the crosses. I guess I am wondering if anybody has any recommendations for a racquet that may complement a 3.5 players game moreso than the BLX Pro Open. My big weakness is the serve though. I've taken a few lessons, but I just find it a really tough shot to be consistent with (especially the top spin serve - which seems like such an unnatural motion to me). I end up losing matches I should easily win because my serve breaks down on me.

That's not going to change a ton with a new racket. A few lessons isn't going to cut it either. It takes lessons and a TON of practice. The serve is the hardest thing to get down, and the 2nd serve is the toughest. For all we know you're swing on your serve could be fine, but your toss could stink and that would throw you off.

The Pro Open is a great stick. I'd stick with it and get some more input from a pro. Get a video camera and video yourself serving so you can see what you are or aren't doing.

seekay
01-28-2012, 08:55 AM
That's not going to change a ton with a new racket. A few lessons isn't going to cut it either. It takes lessons and a TON of practice. The serve is the hardest thing to get down, and the 2nd serve is the toughest. For all we know you're swing on your serve could be fine, but your toss could stink and that would throw you off.

The Pro Open is a great stick. I'd stick with it and get some more input from a pro. Get a video camera and video yourself serving so you can see what you are or aren't doing.

This is great advice. I'll add that when I demo'd the nPro Open a few years ago, I found that it helped to add kick to my topspin serves. I haven't hit with the BLX update that you've got, but the version I used seemed like a great stick for a 3.5 player wanting room to improve.

fuzz nation
01-28-2012, 01:02 PM
I think that the good news and the bad news are sort of the same here, depending on how you look at it. There are a whole bunch of racquets out there that are potentially good for you, but you also don't have to assume that there's one best option. There's not. That means that if you find something your like, you should give it a home and get your focus back on developing your skills.

As long as a racquet isn't so crazy heavy, feather light, or somehow so uncomfortable that it's a significant distraction to you when you're on the courts, you're in business. Use whatever is cozy for you. You don't necessarily even need a different frame, but if you've got that itch and you need to scratch it by doing some shopping, then I certainly recommend a go with the demo program from TW.

Don't be afraid of trying heavier alternatives to your current racquet. The stability can be a big plus just as long as the heft isn't completely unmanageable. In terms of any capacity to "help you learn", I'd say that a frame with some more weight can reward better technique. If you're arming the ball too much and not hitting with a good "kinetic chain", you'll probably feel it after 15-20 minutes of work on the grinder with a hefty racquet.

I think that RacketFever made some decent suggestions and you could maybe look at the Storm models available from Babolat, the Speed and Prestige options from Head, and even something like the Black Ace 98 from ProKennex. Softer racquets (with lower flex ratings) will probably have more inherent control and comfort. Not a bad feature since it can save you from needing to tone down your racquet with any poly strings, but pay attention to the flex in the racquets you sample. A very soft racquet may seem especially dead and push you to overswing with it too often. That's no fun for strokes, but can be downright aggravating when trying to pop a nice serve.

Fed Kennedy
01-28-2012, 01:04 PM
Pure drive. Your serve will automatically improve. It sounds stupid but its true.

bs406
01-28-2012, 01:28 PM
Thanks for all the advice guys - I really appreciate it. I need to stop worrying so much about the racquet and focus on improving my technique, toss, footwork etc.. I just wish this stupid thing called a job would stop getting in the way of playing and practicing tennis :)
I have to say from somebody who is naturally athletic and played every other sport growing up except tennis, I truly wish I had picked up this game when I was younger. I thought I could just pick up tennis and be good based on athletic talent alone - boy was I wrong....One final question, does anybody have a recommended string pattern and tension you think would help?

drkplayer122
01-28-2012, 02:57 PM
Thanks for all the advice guys - I really appreciate it. I need to stop worrying so much about the racquet and focus on improving my technique, toss, footwork etc.. I just wish this stupid thing called a job would stop getting in the way of playing and practicing tennis :)
I have to say from somebody who is naturally athletic and played every other sport growing up except tennis, I truly wish I had picked up this game when I was younger. I thought I could just pick up tennis and be good based on athletic talent alone - boy was I wrong....One final question, does anybody have a recommended string pattern and tension you think would help?

Do you mean string setup? If you want a new setup, you can try using BHBR or BHB7 and maybe the NXT in the cross. I use MCS. The BHBR and BHB7 can definitely help you with producing spin on all your shots and they are great producing controlled power.

RyKnocks
01-28-2012, 05:50 PM
Head YT IG Radical MP

Or any of the MP radicals for that matter.

JackB1
01-28-2012, 08:23 PM
the BLX Pro Open is actually a perfect racquet for a 3.5.
you could also try the Becker DC Pro Open. It immediately improved my serve.

Faithfulfather
01-29-2012, 05:55 AM
I have a BLX Pro Open in 9.5 condition that I will sell you for $90 shipped.

Captain Tezuka
01-29-2012, 06:27 AM
Thanks for all the advice guys - I really appreciate it. I need to stop worrying so much about the racquet and focus on improving my technique, toss, footwork etc.. I just wish this stupid thing called a job would stop getting in the way of playing and practicing tennis :)
I have to say from somebody who is naturally athletic and played every other sport growing up except tennis, I truly wish I had picked up this game when I was younger. I thought I could just pick up tennis and be good based on athletic talent alone - boy was I wrong....One final question, does anybody have a recommended string pattern and tension you think would help?

Hey,

OK well here is some advice ok?

A few questions.

Do you like playing with spin?

Is string durability important to you or do you break strings often?

Is playability more important i.e. the feel of the ball on the strings?

For tension you should generally start somewhere in the middle of the recommended tension range. e.g. your racquet's recommended tension range is 50-60lbs then you should string your strings at 55lbs and go from there.

Remember Low Tension increases ball dwell time and power. High Tension increases control and decreases dwell time.

Go with your current racquet or go instore and ask I did and well my current stick plays ok although it might be too light. :)

-Tezuka

P.S. Thanks to TW for the Strings Guide on which I regurgitated some information. :)

bs406
01-30-2012, 10:56 AM
I definitely like playing with spin - I wish I could generate more topspin from my backhand side. I tend to hit it flat, but can generate good angles that way, however inevitably I hit it into the net a lot doing that. My strings usually last about 3 months, then they are on the verge of breaking, but I'd rather restring more often and play with better strings.

When I played at the 3.0 level, I basically won all my matches by just being consistent and running balls down forcing my opponents into mistakes. At 3.5 that strategy isn't as effective and I have been looking to add a little more pop to my shots as well as hit with more topspin and to hit deeper into the court. Many players at the 3.5 level struggle with heavy deep topspin shots (as I do myself - especially to my backhand side). I guess I'm not really sure what I should adjust my tension to - I currently have it at 55. I am a fairly consistent hitter and am able to control the ball fairly well, but I have trouble keeping up with the bigger hitters at the 3.5 level. Sometimes they can hit me off the court and no amount of defense by me can win a match like that (though I do get some satisfaction from making them work REALLY hard to beat me.) One guy cursed me out in French after the match (in a nice way!) and said he never wanted to play me again because I made him work his butt off to win (he was much better than me - but I hung in there and lost 7-6, 7-5).

fuzz nation
01-30-2012, 02:06 PM
Good story - sounds like you've got the bug and also don't mind getting your exercise with some extra retrieving out there.

I've always liked going to the net myself and have only gotten stronger at the baseline over the last several years. As you're finding out how much of an investment it takes to learn the dozens of habits that make for a more complete game, I also encourage you to get crackin' on your net game, too.

Playing the net is another skill set and to play up there, you also need to learn to get there by transitioning effectively across no-man's land. More habits... Just throwing this idea in here because you'll eventually want a "plan B" in your game plan as your abilities develop.

What does this have to do with gear? Well, I like a racquet that's not so heavy that I can still get a good swing at the ball, but if a frame is too light for me, it's too unstable, especially up at the net. I suppose that this is part of what I was getting at when I encouraged you to sample some racquets with a little more heft and inherent stability. Enjoy the search.

Mig1NC
01-30-2012, 02:28 PM
If you are looking for more zip, the lux mains, especially after a few matches, are not going to be helping you one bit.

Try some different strings.

For a good blend of power and spin, you can try natural gut mains and poly crosses. Maybe around 55/51 for reference tension.

heninfan99
02-01-2012, 04:33 PM
I would have recommended the old Head Instinct but the new Head Prestige MP is perfect for a 3.5 that practices and it would continue to work for you as your game grows. It specs out like a tweener but has nice control.

JackB1
02-01-2012, 05:08 PM
I would have recommended the old Head Instinct but the new Head Prestige MP is perfect for a 3.5 that practices and it would continue to work for you as your game grows. It specs out like a tweener but has nice control.

the Prestige MP is about as far away from a "tweener" as you can get. The Instinct is a much better suggestion for a 3.5.

Timbo's hopeless slice
02-01-2012, 05:48 PM
the Prestige MP is about as far away from a "tweener" as you can get. The Instinct is a much better suggestion for a 3.5.

no, Jack, no!!! All the 3.5s around here have Prestiges or k-90s leaded up to 400grams, don't betray your lack of TW received wisdom by suggesting something stupid like a Head Instinct that might even help these folk to, you know, play better!

For a really in depth discussion of these matters, I refer you to the poster TimothyO who has become quite the authority on such things in his 2 year journey from complete beginner to the heights of 3.5 dubs..

JackB1
02-01-2012, 06:19 PM
no, Jack, no!!! All the 3.5s around here have Prestiges or k-90s leaded up to 400grams, don't betray your lack of TW received wisdom by suggesting something stupid like a Head Instinct that might even help these folk to, you know, play better!

For a really in depth discussion of these matters, I refer you to the poster TimothyO who has become quite the authority on such things in his 2 year journey from complete beginner to the heights of 3.5 dubs..

lol. Just trying to help :-). Its amazing how mixed the advice can be sometimes.

TimO's a good guy...he just has his opinion's on what racquets are best for beginners to use. Personally I don't belong to the "a heavier players racquets will force your strokes to get better" camp.

Timbo's hopeless slice
02-01-2012, 06:23 PM
Oh, I know, and I was probably much nastier than need be, I agree, Tim seems like a really genuine guy.

bs406
02-02-2012, 03:45 PM
Thanks for the advice Fuzz - I have been working on my net game - though I seem to have brick hands up there at net. I have been playing a lot of doubles as well which forces me to play net. I recently went to "Total Tennis" (Northeasterners most likely know about this little gem of a tennis camp) and the pro really helped me to learn how to carve the ball to generate nasty angles with my volleys. You are 100% correct in that I can win points so much easier if I learn to transition from the baseline to the net. Sigh....so much to learn...The tennis bug bit me and won't let go. I even gave up playing football so as to avoid any injuries that may slow my tennis progress. I may give the natural gut for the mains and polys for the crosses a shot. Does this sounds like a good idea?

drkplayer122
02-02-2012, 03:52 PM
Thanks for the advice Fuzz - I have been working on my net game - though I seem to have brick hands up there at net. I have been playing a lot of doubles as well which forces me to play net. I recently went to "Total Tennis" (Northeasterners most likely know about this little gem of a tennis camp) and the pro really helped me to learn how to carve the ball to generate nasty angles with my volleys. You are 100% correct in that I can win points so much easier if I learn to transition from the baseline to the net. Sigh....so much to learn...The tennis bug bit me and won't let go. I even gave up playing football so as to avoid any injuries that may slow my tennis progress. I may give the natural gut for the mains and polys for the crosses a shot. Does this sounds like a good idea?

OMG!!! Im also starting to give up playing basketball since Im afraid to sprain my ankle playing ball. Every month or 2, I sprain it on a basketball playing noob and I cant play basketball and especially tennis! Now that is torture!

About the gut/poly setup... just try it out and experiment with different setups and see what you like.

heninfan99
02-03-2012, 04:38 AM
Well, Jack, I disagree. The new MP is easier to swing than the old LM Instinct.
Maybe you didn't read my whole post but I said a 3.5 that practices --you know, improving. They can grow into the MP for years to come and not have to buy a new stick every year. It's only 11.9 strung and feels lighter. It will also help with the accuracy of his serves.


lol. Just trying to help :-). Its amazing how mixed the advice can be sometimes.

TimO's a good guy...he just has his opinion's on what racquets are best for beginners to use. Personally I don't belong to the "a heavier players racquets will force your strokes to get better" camp.

heninfan99
02-03-2012, 04:40 AM
Hey Hopeless Tim,
It was I that actually suggested the Instinct. Jack just criticized like a troll without contributing anything useful.


no, Jack, no!!! All the 3.5s around here have Prestiges or k-90s leaded up to 400grams, don't betray your lack of TW received wisdom by suggesting something stupid like a Head Instinct that might even help these folk to, you know, play better!

For a really in depth discussion of these matters, I refer you to the poster TimothyO who has become quite the authority on such things in his 2 year journey from complete beginner to the heights of 3.5 dubs..

JackB1
02-03-2012, 05:35 AM
Hey Hopeless Tim,
It was I that actually suggested the Instinct. Jack just criticized like a troll without contributing anything useful.

"criticized it like a troll" ???

this is exactly what I said...

"the Prestige MP is about as far away from a "tweener" as you can get. The Instinct is a much better suggestion for a 3.5."

What is so bad about that? ...like a troll???

I actually agreed with you that the Instinct was a good suggestion. I think you better go reread the definition of "troll". Somehow the forum let me get away with "trolling" for over 5,000 posts :-)

JackB1
02-03-2012, 05:43 AM
Well, Jack, I disagree. The new MP is easier to swing than the old LM Instinct.
Maybe you didn't read my whole post but I said a 3.5 that practices --you know, improving. They can grow into the MP for years to come and not have to buy a new stick every year. It's only 11.9 strung and feels lighter. It will also help with the accuracy of his serves.

swingweight or ease of swinging is just one part of a racquet. The Prestige MP has a pretty small sweetspot which can be frustrating for a 3.5 player to hit consistently, which can slow his progress. IMO there is no need to "grow into a racquet" anymore. There are racquets that some here consider "tweeners" that many Pro's currently use. In order for someone to "outgrow" a racquet, they would have to go from 3.5 to 5.0 and I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

APG
02-03-2012, 06:36 AM
I am a 3.5 but on the precipice of being a 4.0. I have played with many Prestges and the Pro Tours. I have played for years although injuries and a hiatus from playing for 10 years has derailed my progress.
I am old enough to have started playing with wood and smaller head graphite frames. I consistently hit the sweetspot but until Jack's reference never really thought much about how large is the sweetspot. I don't pay much attention what level is suggested for a particular racket. I hate tweeners and their power only alters my mechanics negatively.
I see no reason a 3.5 cannot play with the PMP.
I will be demoing the new PMP this weekend.
My prestiges weigh in at 12.9 ozs and about 8 PT's HL. I personally think a 3.5 should be hitting the sweetspot regularly. I don't think of the PMP as having a small sweetspot but I will pay more attention.
In the end though it is what works and feels like a good fit to the individual.

Power Player
02-03-2012, 07:07 AM
You sound like a good candidate for the Prince EXO3 tour 100 16x18. It has a large head, easy to get balls back with spin, and your kick serve will be nasty.

I loved the stick, and I am an attacking player. That is what finally got me to switch to a Wilson once I recovered from some injury.

But the Prince is super comfortable, easy to use and will put tons of spin on your serve.

Check that out..the Pure Drive (if you dont mind stiffness), Maybe the Wilson Juice (if you dont mind the PJ).

Hi I'm Ray
02-03-2012, 07:36 AM
I definitely like playing with spin - I wish I could generate more topspin from my backhand side. I tend to hit it flat, but can generate good angles that way, however inevitably I hit it into the net a lot doing that. My strings usually last about 3 months, then they are on the verge of breaking, but I'd rather restring more often and play with better strings.

When I played at the 3.0 level, I basically won all my matches by just being consistent and running balls down forcing my opponents into mistakes. At 3.5 that strategy isn't as effective and I have been looking to add a little more pop to my shots as well as hit with more topspin and to hit deeper into the court. Many players at the 3.5 level struggle with heavy deep topspin shots (as I do myself - especially to my backhand side). I guess I'm not really sure what I should adjust my tension to - I currently have it at 55. I am a fairly consistent hitter and am able to control the ball fairly well, but I have trouble keeping up with the bigger hitters at the 3.5 level. Sometimes they can hit me off the court and no amount of defense by me can win a match like that (though I do get some satisfaction from making them work REALLY hard to beat me.) One guy cursed me out in French after the match (in a nice way!) and said he never wanted to play me again because I made him work his butt off to win (he was much better than me - but I hung in there and lost 7-6, 7-5).

Glad your getting so into the game.
Whoa, even though poly is durable, it doesn't last very long before going dead. The best ones I have tried go dead in 10-12 hours. At that point elasticity, power, spin, and control all go way downhill. If you are not hitting the ball so hard might I suggest restringing at 15-20 hours which is still a long time. That should help you with pop right there. If you want even more pop you could string a bit lower, which seems to work great with poly, say maybe try 3lbs lower. You could also try putting a syn gut in the crosses or adding a bit of lead tape to the hoop such as 4 grams to 3 & 9 O'clock positions and see if it suits you. In any case I think what you have is a great racket and can easily be adjusted to your needs while your game develops. Practice and getting down sound technique will do the most for you. Best of luck to ya.

Sreeram
02-03-2012, 08:21 AM
I use Luxilon Big Banger for the mains and Wilson NXT for the crosses. I guess I am wondering if anybody has any recommendations for a racquet that may complement a 3.5 players game moreso than the BLX Pro Open. My big weakness is the serve though. I've taken a few lessons, but I just find it a really tough shot to be consistent with (especially the top spin serve - which seems like such an unnatural motion to me). I end up losing matches I should easily win because my serve breaks down on me.

Second serve is a challenge to may 3.5 level players. I am a 3.5 player myself with close to 3 years of tennis. My second serve is decent with nice kick able to withstand 4.0 players. But my overall game, shot selection and strategy lets me down. These things come only by experience and more match play.
Second serve is nothing different from a topspin forehand. If you can put topspin on your forehand why not in serve? Both are same brushing the ball. The reason topspin serve appears tough is because it is the spin that we relay on to get the ball on service box. So you need to get enough confidence on the spin that you can generate to hit it freely. Put your topspin serve as your first serve for a season. You might get no ace and cheap points but your serve will improve for sure. I did that and it worked for me.

Power Player
02-03-2012, 09:21 AM
Actually a topspin serve is a lot different from a topspin forehand. Totally different motions and swing to contact. The only similarity is that you are applying topspin to the ball.

BlakeAF
02-03-2012, 10:02 AM
I think we are in kind of similar boats, but I love the Pro Open. I just need a backup racket and wasn't sure about getting another Pro Open. I tried everything else that I thought was tweener or appropriate for a 3.5 player and the Pro Open with a full bed of poly @ 45 lbs performed the best for me.

I just demo'd the Juice Pro BLX and it felt so solid. I really really enjoyed it, and the results weren't the same with the Pro Tour BLX. I guess I am not supposed to use a stick like this yet, but I think you should give it a try.

My only problems with the Pro Open were a bit too much power, but also a bit of instability at the net with really heavy hitters especially to my backhand. This Juice Pro felt really nice all over the place. I know at our level we are supposed to not use sticks like this, and I just made a post about it so maybe I am missing a few things, but give it a try.

prjacobs
02-03-2012, 10:18 AM
I'd say, take some time to demo. I personally didn't like the Wilson Pro Open. (Not the BLX version).
I'd take Jack's suggestion of the Becker DC Pro. I liked the dunlop 4D 500 tour better for serving than any of the above mentioned babolats, but your results will differ. I'd look at the biomemetic 400 or 500 tours. Might also look at the Volkl organix 8s.
I also use an all gut setup.

heninfan99
02-03-2012, 10:54 AM
Far away from a tweener as possible would be a something like PS85 not a sub-12oz strung stick with a head size of 98. The specs are tweener and it plays like a tweener.

As far as outgrowing the MP he could always lead it up as he gets better.
Maybe you haven't hit with the new MP. It's a sweet stick that could easily last an improving 3.5 three years or many more. It may be marketed as a player's stick but that's mostly hype if you look at the statisctica.

swingweight or ease of swinging is just one part of a racquet. The Prestige MP has a pretty small sweetspot which can be frustrating for a 3.5 player to hit consistently, which can slow his progress. IMO there is no need to "grow into a racquet" anymore. There are racquets that some here consider "tweeners" that many Pro's currently use. In order for someone to "outgrow" a racquet, they would have to go from 3.5 to 5.0 and I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

Captain Tezuka
02-03-2012, 03:08 PM
I'd say, take some time to demo. I personally didn't like the Wilson Pro Open. (Not the BLX version).
I'd take Jack's suggestion of the Becker DC Pro. I liked the dunlop 4D 500 tour better for serving than any of the above mentioned babolats, but your results will differ. I'd look at the biomemetic 400 or 500 tours. Might also look at the Volkl organix 8s.
I also use an all gut setup.

Woah! You have some $$$$ to burn if you use full bed of gut. :D

cork_screw
02-03-2012, 08:29 PM
Honestly, I would give the aeropro drive a demo. It is extremely friendly to most level players. It has a huge sweetspot, it's easy to swing and it has great spin and power. I could easily transition between that and any racquet i'm currently using at the moment with ease. For me, it's one of my currents that I use here and there when i'm playing on clay. Give it a try.

prjacobs
02-03-2012, 09:03 PM
Woah! You have some $$$$ to burn if you use full bed of gut. :D

I'm a professional musician and the softness on my hand is worth it. I also find that gut plays as good as new for far longer than anything else I've used.
It's maybe $20 - 25 more to string. That's a cheap meal in NYC :) .

Ramon
02-05-2012, 05:41 PM
If your strings last 3 months, I recommend that you stop using poly. It goes dead well before 3 months and kills your arm.

JackB1
02-06-2012, 07:46 AM
the new Prince Warrior 100 is a PERFECT racquet for a 3.5

BlakeAF
02-06-2012, 07:49 AM
the new Prince Warrior 100 is a PERFECT racquet for a 3.5

I concur this is a great racket. My friend uses this, and I really enjoy hitting with it. This, the old exo3 black, the BLX Pro Open, etc. are all rock solid rackets at this level.