How Much Better are Todays Racquets Comapared to Racquets of the Late 80's and 90's?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Thrasher, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. Thrasher

    Thrasher Rookie

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    My friend the other day was trying to tell me that there is a huge difference from frames of the late 80's and 90's, comapred to the ones of today, and that the frames of today are way better. I told him I didn't think there was that much of a difference, and that most of it was just hype. Afterall, there is only so much you can do with a racuet right? What do you guys think?
     
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  2. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    I think beginner and tweener frames have gotten much better - more stable and more comfortable. The heavier frames didn't really have these issues to begin with.
     
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  3. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    I think the racquets of today are not any better than the racquets from the 80's or 90's. It is just hype.
     
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  4. soggyramen

    soggyramen Professional

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    i think they are better but it's always fun to hit with an old midsize graphite racquet
     
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  5. alan-n

    alan-n Professional

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    The strings are better, non-gut strings are used by most professionals now. Even multis of high quality are used in placed of gut.

    There is more selection to racquets now and marketing non-sense, the racquets themselves seem to be made of cheaper filler material which gives them a dead feel with the exception of a handful of racquets.
     
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  6. Deuce

    Deuce Banned

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    Actually, today's racquets are much worse than racquets of 15-20 years ago.
    Today's racquets are more cheaply made (China, vs. USA, Austria, etc. 15-20 years ago), with lower quality materials today, as well. That's why they rely so heavily upon slick marketing to sell them.

    To the uninitiated, the most obvious difference is that today's racquets are much lighter.
    But to those who appreciate quality - in both workmanship, durability, and in ball-striking, the racquets of 20 years ago are head and shoulders above today's junk.
     
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  7. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    Can you name a comfortable, solid feeling 10oz frame made 20 years ago?
     
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  8. bagung

    bagung Hall of Fame

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    todays racquet is lighter, more powerful oriented........
    choices are more too......
    quality-wise.....??????????
    almost everything comes from china..... except some models from yonex, head....
     
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  9. enwar3

    enwar3 Rookie

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    Interesting thought Deuce.

    I was always under the impression that nowadays, most of the racquet companies are devoted to selling racquets (hence all the new tech marketing), whereas back in the day it seemed like a lot of companies experimented to try and improve the game. Not that I know anything....
     
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  10. Hobomagic

    Hobomagic New User

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    I find there is less emphasis on control and more on power and spin generation nowadays. Raquet head sizes have gotten alot bigger and string patterns alot more open. But cheaper craftsmanship and quality overall. I love my dunlop 200g
     
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  11. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    I don't think players racquets have gotten any better, perhaps worse.

    Lighter tweeners may have gotten better, though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2007
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  12. Deuce

    Deuce Banned

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    No...
    But I thought we were discussing adult racquets in this thread.
     
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  13. louis netman

    louis netman Hall of Fame

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    IMO, newer frames have less of the good stuff on the inside...more fillers and cheaper materials....but oh so pretty on the outside...
     
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  14. bossass

    bossass Rookie

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    The china argument is flawed. We all assume that stuff made is china is of lesser quality, because all the plastic crap we have in our lives comes from china. The truth is quite often things get made better in china.

    For example: Not related to tennis, but K2 skis were made for probably 30+ years on Vashon Island in Washington. Later on K2 snowboards and Ride snowboards were also made here. In the 80s and 90s, when they were all still made in the USA, all three lines had major problems with delaminating skis/snowboards. I knew people that warrentied skis so many times, they effectively got new skis every year for like five years, off the original pair. K2 moved production to China a few years ago and all those products are remarkably more durable and built to higher standards.

    My point is, China is a blazingly burgeoning economy. They make many high end performance and sports related products, and they do it very well. The bottom line is cost, but companies often move production there simply because they have trouble finding domestic facilities that can produce comparable products. Europe does have a tradition of excellence still, and I'd rather see my PC600 come from Austria than China, but I think if molds were handed over to a chinese facility, they could make an excellent version.

    With that said, I agree with BP that heavier players rackets are on the downhill slide. The Prestige is the best frame ever, and now you can't get it in an unpolluted version.

    I do think tweener rackets are much better now, however. I tried a buttload of rackets in high school, and none of them came close to a current Pure Drive.
     
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  15. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    HEAD does not manufacture any racquets for the consumer in Austria anymore. That stopped 2 years ago.
     
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  16. Keifers

    Keifers Legend

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    Lots of good points made above...

    In beginner and tweener frames, there's been a huge downward trend in weight and, along with that, significant increases in stiffness and head-heaviness (they had to -- to get more power after reducing the weight). And they have indeed developed some technologies and designs that have increased stability and comfort in these frames.

    Some would question the merits these very lightweight, stiff racquets. Yes, they allow beginners to "get going" more easily, but perhaps at the cost of developing bad habits (such as short swings, wristiness, etc.) and, in many cases, at the cost of tennis elbow and arm and shoulder problems. It turns out that heavier, more flexible, more head-light frames are better in the long run.

    Even player's racquets have gotten lighter -- strung weight of the Speedport Tour is 11.7 ozs, way down from the 12-13 oz range for player's frames from the late '80s and '90s.

    The game has changed from flatter shots to bigtime power and topspin. I think of the Bab Pure Drive as a nexus racquet in this evolution (although even Fed with a PS 85 hit some heavy-topspin passing shot winners when he beat Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001).

    As for the cheaper materials mentioned by Deuce and others, I've been thinking this recently: with frames being much lighter and at the same time much bigger (wider beams, larger heads), the materials in modern frames just have to be less dense, don't they? Along with the increased stiffness, it stands to reason that they're going to feel hollow and cheap compared with the older frames, doesn't it? ...Even if the quality of the materials is the same...

    Bottom line for me is I've been really enjoying hitting with racquets from the late '80s and '90s. They're solid, well-made, and they play great for me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2007
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  17. jetlee2k

    jetlee2k Banned

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    as many already said and I totally 100% agree.. The beginner and tweener rackets getting alot better but the player frames are not better at all or may be get worse.. I am currently play with the K90 with heavy customize but then I can pick up a Max 200G with dead string, no customization at all and I play awesome.. Samething can be said with Adidas GTX Pro-T, Kneissl Lendl Pro, PS85, Ultra 2.. and etc.. Those are just awesome rackets.. oops... forgot to mention Head Prestige Pro, Head Graphite Pro even the Head Comp Pro, POG Mid.. just awesome.. I can pull it out the bag anytime and start ripping the balls.. The new rackets need alot customize for balance, stability and weight... and it hurts my elbow & shoulder...
     
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  18. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

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    Strong players can play with tweeners and play well too, not sure if any pros swing them with stock weight though

    I'd think the Radical line is pretty "adult", the newest iteration (10.5oz unstrung 11 strung) is a very comfortable dense pattern control stick. And how about Nadal's frame?
     
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  19. Thrasher

    Thrasher Rookie

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    Wow, excellent input! You guys really know your stuff. Especially Duece,Bosass,and Keifers. I'm glad someone agrees with me on this. I have owned racquets such as the Wilson Ultra, Prince Boron, Head Prestige Pro, Donnay Boron 25, Dunlop Muscle Weave, etc. And while not knowing all the technical details such as Bossass and Keifers, most of todays frames just don't have that solid crisp response feel at impact like the frames of the past. I've tried the Babolat Pure Drive, and did not like it at all. It had kind of a cheap, whippy feel to it. Oh well, for the most part, I guess we'll have to get use to the subpar racquets of today, and marvel at some of the frames produced in the late 80's and 90's. Great input and analysis from you guys again.
     
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  20. mhstennis100

    mhstennis100 Semi-Pro

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    I was using a PS 6.0 for about a month and just switched to the Dunlop Aerogel 200. I don't buy the Aerogel/Mfil/whatever is supposedly in it, but it is a very solid frame. It does everything as well or better as the 6.0's.
     
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  21. carac

    carac Rookie

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    No offense, but you have no clue on what you are talking about.

    First of all - the price and quality of materials used have seen an AMAZING evolution - so today racquets can be stronger, lighter and A LOT cheaper (once you update the prices).

    The racquets for real-pro players have changed somehow slower - but one of the reasons for that is that a pro will avoid at all costs changing the racquet parameters and most of them will play for many years with racquets identical or very similar with the models they started.

    Also only about 1000 people in the world will be able to play with the full correct swing with a racquet of over 340g or so (and consistently hit a ball over 150km/h playing every single day) - 99.99% of those do NOT pay for their racquets (and are not on this board) - so the entire market in the world is actually one where lighter is better!

    The huge reasons why marketing is so intense is precisely that:

    a) racquets (even very new ones) are well-built and long-lasting - so without marketing people will rarely feel the need to upgrade;

    b) given the huge price drop in production costs, the rather very high end-user price can only be kept by 'creating' a new model each year (and trying to paint old models as obsolete) - the same was used for cars and computers but I don't really expect that to last forever ...
     
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  22. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    What are you talking about? :confused: Most wood racquets were over 400g and tens of millions of people were able to play with them with full correct swings.
     
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  23. tennis_hand

    tennis_hand Hall of Fame

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    they are better. you have to admit.
    On the same comparison basis, e.g. the same model of racket, the newer ones are more stable, less jarring, larger sweetspot, more comfortable when hitting off center, not so damaging to the arms when hitting off center and frameshots. They dampen these bad shots much better. So they are better in terms of physics, but of course this doesn't mean they play better. So if you could always hit the sweet spot, I guess it wouldn't make a difference for you.
     
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  24. tennis_hand

    tennis_hand Hall of Fame

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    if u say they are worse now because they are made in China, but not in USA, then check out the Made in USA product: Tourna Grip. Crap durability + so mean that they don't even give enough length.
     
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  25. lordmanji

    lordmanji Guest

    i hate playing with penn and wilson balls. arent they made in the usa? it feels dead after one, two weeks max. give me my dunlops!
     
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  26. shadowrtype

    shadowrtype New User

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    Arguing this point seems to always bring out those who are most passionate about thier personal preferences. I don't think we can really say old is better than today's even though I personally think so myself. If current technologies allow more people to enjoy the game then it is better for them. Players who have classic strokes who do not benefit from the new gimmicky technologies will see the older frames better for them. I see to many posts here asking which is the best, which is better, greatest of all time, etc. There is not one answer, and that is why today's companies can offer choices for different levels of players. Online auctions and TW members also offer choices for those who favor the classic feeling tennis racquets. If it is a matter of better feel vs better performance results, there is something out there for everyone. People need to make the decision for themselves as to what is the "best" or "better" rather than relying on general popularity to decide for them. What most say is the best can be the worst choice for an individual. Hopefully those who chose today's rackets can have some opportunity to experience the joy of hitting some of the more classic 80's racquets and discover the answer themselves.
     
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  27. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    why would anyone play with a can of balls more than once. for god's sake spend two dollars for fresh schwetty balls.
     
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  28. Keifers

    Keifers Legend

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    I've found that the solid, crisp response of the older (heavier, more headlight) racquets gives a real assist when it comes to volleys, especially that first volley when serving. A lot of times, it feels like I just have to get the racquet into the correct position and it does the rest -- solid, crisp, whether it's a volley or half-volley. This is a very satisfying experience. The light-weight, head-heavy, whippy modern racquets just can't do this -- too bad!...
     
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  29. meowmix

    meowmix Hall of Fame

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    If you're playing 3 times a week with 6 balls that's 312 cans which equals 624 bucks (that's IF you can get them for 2 bucks, around here, they're more like 3). A lot of people (myself included) can't possibly fork over that kind of money for new balls.
     
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  30. ionutzakis

    ionutzakis Semi-Pro

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    ^^^
    I don;t know where you buy your balls, but in Europe a can of US Open Wilsons is 10-11 bucks, if I were to use new balls each time I would go bankrupt pretty quick
     
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  31. carac

    carac Rookie

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    Yes, but in those days the ball was moving WELL under 100 km/h ... actually some of the really fast players could often move faster than many balls :)
     
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  32. carac

    carac Rookie

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    First of all - that is not 100% true - you can still find at least 1-2 models from each of the major racquet companies that fit that description (for instance - get a Prestige :) )

    Second and more important - it is always simple/possible to later add lead tape to a racquet, but removing weight it's not something that you can do well after the original design is fixed ...

    (extra note - unlike weight, the overall stiffness can be slightly 'moved' BOTH ways - one way with a very soft string, the other way with a very stiff one)
     
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  33. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    The Chinese have the ability to make tennis racquets of any quality...from crappy to superb and descriptors in between. It's all about how the Companies instruct them to build the racquets. Some companies are marketing driven and put more of their costs into marketing/advertising and others are real technology and quality driven and put more of the cost into the actual product
     
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  34. hadoken

    hadoken Rookie

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    The late 80's/90's was a very revolutionary time in tennis design when the Wilson Profile came out and you had some companies doing some very interesting things with variable widths and shock dampening. Beginner frames are very different today...the key difference being the shift to HH balance and lighter weights...everything else is not that important. Whether this is better or worse I won't comment on, but needless to say it is different.

    Advanced frames have really not changed that much. For all practical purposes they are sub 100" frames with thin beams and traditional weighting. It's harder to find sub 95 frames, and they are a little lighter now, but not by much.

    The tweener frame is very different today, and I would say it is here that tennis companies lack true diversity. In the 1st generation widebody era you had a lot of mid frames with traditional 12+oz weighting constructed with extra power. That's what I really miss from today's tweeners. The Profile, Prince CTS and Yamaha Secrets were really impressive frames that I would argue are better than many of today's tweeners.
     
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  35. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    It seems like everyone is copying one another with little variation.

    They change materials but rarely form. Yonex is going with more varied width frames again, I hope they do well. Prince has their ports which is probably the biggest change in a long time. I would like to see Prince bring back their mono-shafts in new models. I would also like to see Wilson give their "Spin" series another go (Think: Hammer 5.5 "spin"). With the new stronger materials they would have a better shot.

    I know many do not like the feel of new racquet compared to the feel of older racquets, even in the same model. I so wonder how much of that is truth and how much is confirmation bias.

    -SF
     
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  36. Rafa freak

    Rafa freak Semi-Pro

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    I like the new ones better and I use the same racket as you.
     
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  37. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Can you name a comfortable, solid feeling 10oz frame?
     
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  38. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    Yeah, but you'd have to open a new can of balls every other game if you were using Penn or Wilsons.

    BTW, I believe Penns are the only balls still made in the USA. I know Dunlops are made in the Philippines and I think Wilsons are made in Thailand.
     
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  39. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    Closest I can think of is the nFury, more comfortable than stable though.

    -SF
     
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  40. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    Have you ever hit a tennis ball with a 400g racquet? You can hit the ball pretty darn hard. It doesn't matter as much that it's wood or graphite. The sheer weight of that club with a decent swing will absolutely crush the ball. Don't you remember that experiment when Philippoussis was able to hit his serves about just as hard with a wood racquet as with his regular graphite racquet? When it comes to tennis racquets, there's just no substitute for weight. Even a Prince racquet designer admitted this to me last year. The laws of physics dictate that.
     
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  41. John Galt

    John Galt Rookie

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    No offense, but your post is nonsense..;)

    First of all "stronger, lighter, and cheaper" are irrelevant when discussing the quality of tennis frames. Quality of material, workmanship, and flexible/weight are the most important items in a good stick. Who cares how "light" a stick is. Costs have been comparatively consistent over time as well. Your position that "only 1000 people in world can correctly swing a 12 oz. frame" is one of the most ludicrous statements that I have ever seen on TT. For arm safety, hitting a heavy ball, stability, and on court success I believe that a racquet should be AT LEAST 330g and most good players are hitting with frames above that in weight. There sure is a lot more to the game than hitting "over 150km/h"....and IMO most players hitting 12oz racquets can hit a solid ball (with control, touch, and spin). There are exceptions to this, of course, but in general terms your statements are pure horsehockey.
     
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  42. Steve H.

    Steve H. Semi-Pro

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    Interesting to watch the women's final today with Jankovic gliding around the court with her O3 Red -- of course we don't know how much heavier than stock she was playing, but the O-ports and large head were there for all to see. Justine beat her in the end, but had to work REALLY hard to do so.

    That said, personally I can't stand those things. Maybe I can hit a little harder, but sure miss feeling the ball. So, agree with whoever said it's all about what you like!
     
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  43. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Sounds nuts but the O3 just play like the Wilson Roller racquets, soft stringbed, vague feel, and too light. Torsional stiffness is tough on joints too.
    Stable but unforgiving.
     
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  44. Steve H.

    Steve H. Semi-Pro

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    lotta people like them though -- the White is now the best-selling racquet, recently passing the Pure Drive. Explain that....
     
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  45. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    Same complaint have with Bab racquets. Soft stringbed though. Have old joints, bone-on-bone in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
     
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  46. Deuce

    Deuce Banned

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    And you say that I'm the one who doesn't know what I'm talking about?!?

    And what racquet company do you work for, anyway?

    You sound like a kid whose only experience with a racquet from the 1980s is the 47 seconds you hit with one before concluding that it was "too heavy and too small".
     
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  47. carac

    carac Rookie

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    Probably you have delusions of adequacy about your level in tennis - even in the top 500 ATP plus top 500 WTA players there are many that do not swing correctly at certain shots, and when to that you add real ball speed and the need to repeat that effort each day you can see that things are not as simple as you believe ...

    And the idea that "costs have been comparatively consistent over time as well" is pathetic if you compare the costs for carbon fibers today with those 20 years ago - since you have no clue on the actual industrial costs and you compare the cost of the end-user racquets (and you also don't seem to apply any correction for inflation - only that the costs are less than 1/2 !!!)
     
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  48. origmarm

    origmarm Hall of Fame

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    I agree with the posts re the tweeners and beginners racquets, also racquets used by older people. I think these have all got better.

    With the players racquets, I think its a mixed bag. We have a tendency to remember all the good ones and forget the bad, everyone remembers their PS85s or their POGs but not the terrible racquets that were around then also (proof is I can't name any :)..I do however remember playing with some real lemons).
    Some had got better, some worse. Personally I think the best players racquets from each company; K90, Prestige etc... are probably evens. The game has changed and some racquets (particularly PDs for example) define this new power game.

    For the woodies, yeah they are great but they are very limiting on technique, they have amazing feel, touch and if you get it right power also but they are very unforgiving of bad technique, off centre hits etc..I love to hit with them, but I would never take one to a tournament for example.

    For the general public, things have gotten better. For anyone of a decent competitive level its probably evens for some playing styles and an improvement for some (those toting Babolats notably). Every company makes lemons and every company makes great frames (mostly). Its just that now they don't keep producing the greats for 15yrs and cycle the line every 2-3.
     
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  49. Sinner

    Sinner Professional

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    A very interesting topic indeed... but regarding the POG and all the talk of the 4-stripe version being superior to the current version, was that because of adjustments made by Prince, or an issue with the manufacturing?
     
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  50. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Hall of Fame

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    re tweeners a couple of old school frames come to my mind...yonex srq 500(my daughter has 3 of these) and volkl v1 classic....

    Not quite 10 oz but big capabilities, lightweight and easy to hit for even say a 2.5 level player.

    nothing in tennis feels like hitting the sweet spot on my sv ps 85 mid or dunlop max 200g.

    If the new stuff was better why would there be so many paint jobs out there on the tours?

    Pretty twisted stuff if you ask me.....

    good thread
     
    #50

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