Move from 16x19 to 18x20 racquet?

Ice-Borg

New User
Guys, I need some advice. My regular racquet is a 16 x 19. I'm a 3.5 player and typically hit a lot of loopy topspin forehands. Backhand is flatter. I can also hit good slice and have a good spinny drop shot. I also get a lot of good kick on my serves.

I've found one annoying issue is that my topspin forehand is giving my opponent a lot of time to get to the ball and get into position. I have tried to hit lower over the net, but it still seems that the ball flies off the racquet, but then sort of hovers over the net, bounces and still sits up.

I've recently been testing out a new 18x20 racquet. I've found that I can hit flatter forehands with it (though I need to work on that stroke) and that I have much more directional control over the ball and it also blocks hard serves and shots back very well getting good depth.
The 16x19 racquet, blocking back, is riskier as I don't know exactly where the ball will fly off.

The problem with 18x20 is that it diminishes my serve a lot as my serve typically has a lot of kick and 18x20 takes away some of the spin. It also feels like I'm smacking the serve with blunt force and its tougher on my arm. Also 18x20 gives a lower trajectory off the racquet head. My muscle memory is used to the 16x19 so it's a learning process as I learn how this racquet reacts. So far the lower trajectory has lead to net shots on some short balls.

As for volleys, I suck at them so I typically avoid the net. However, I'm going to try to work on them with a ball machine. I've heard the 18x20 is better for volleys.

So here is my dilemma. Do you think it is worth the time it will take me to practice with and adjust to the 18x20? Or do you think I should just forget it and stick with 16x19?

So far here are pros and cons I've found:

16x19: Pros: Easier spin/ slice. Much better/ easier serves. I'm already used to it.

18x20: Pros: Much better blocking back return of serve and hard shots deep, much better directional control on shots, easier to hit flat. Easier to hit volleys once I learn.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
These days 18x20 string patterns tend to be used mostly by players who hit extremely flat and hard. They really deaden a racquet, so you need to be generating a lot of uncontrolled power to make it worthwhile.

If all you want is a little more control to allow you to hit a bit flatter - try stringing your 16x19 racquet a bit tighter, or restringing with something a little less spin-friendly.
 

Slicerman

Semi-Pro
I also use 16x19, but I have tried out 18x20 racquets in the past. The main difference I noticed is that 18x20 tends to have lower power (more control) and lower launch angle. In general, it will give you less depth than 16x19.

I think it really depends on how you want to play. I think 18x20 is a good choice for players who like to drive the ball hard and high over the net, because the tight pattern affords them some control to stop the ball from going long.

Personally I like the variety a 16x19 pattern gives. My default setting is sometimes flat hitting and sometimes moderate spin, but I also occasionally like to loop the ball too. I think you can use either pattern, and still perform the same type of shots with both, but it boils down to which one favors your "default setting".
 

TagUrIt

Hall of Fame
Pure Aero, Vokyl Cyclone, 53 tension. The 18x20 is set at 45 tension to get more power.

Just saw your signature, sorry about that. I think tennis is all about learning and growing, if you want to give that 18X20 a real try, I say go for it. You will adapt and figure it out. I generally hit very very flat, you would think I would be using an 18X20.
I know it's a factor, but I don't think the racquet or string pattern determine what kind of player you are or what your playing style is or is not. I use an Yonex Ezone Tour it's 16X19 and I've just recently started to put more topspin and hit a heavier ball deeper into the court.
 
I don’t want to sound like a &$@$, but this is a bit like wanting to become a NASCAR driver because you are pretty swift around your neighborhood and wonder whether you should change the profile on your tires. Sounds like there are more important things to worry about instead of buying another $400 worth of racquets.
 

Ice-Borg

New User
@TagUrIt , the shots with the 18x20 are actually deeper than my 16x19 and stay in. I've been painting the line on many of my shots w/ the 18x20. That is one advantage of it. With the 16x19 I have a tendency to hit a lot of short balls. The 45 tension makes the 18x20 like a wall and I can redirect power with good accuracy. The directional control is actually amazing compared to the 16x19. Tons of balls are staying in or finding the line that would have been out with the 16x19. I just wish the 18x20 didn't seem to sap the power and kick of my serves so much. I tend to think if I stick with it it could be a good weapon. I expected to get killed playing matches starting out with it because of the adjustment, but they've all been surprisingly competitive. I had several games in those matches where the racquet was really an asset, so I sense it's potential upside. Of course I made errors on some shots due to the launch angle and other things. And my serve wasn't as much of a weapon. But it definitely has good qualities I don't get with the 16x19. The control is amazing.
 

Papa Mango

Semi-Pro
@TagUrIt , the shots with the 18x20 are actually deeper than my 16x19 and stay in. I've been painting the line on many of my shots w/ the 18x20. That is one advantage of it. With the 16x19 I have a tendency to hit a lot of short balls. The 45 tension makes the 18x20 like a wall and I can redirect power with good accuracy. The directional control is actually amazing compared to the 16x19. Tons of balls are staying in or finding the line that would have been out with the 16x19. I just wish the 18x20 didn't seem to sap the power and kick of my serves so much. I tend to think if I stick with it it could be a good weapon. I expected to get killed playing matches starting out with it because of the adjustment, but they've all been surprisingly competitive. I had several games in those matches where the racquet was really an asset, so I sense it's potential upside. Of course I made errors on some shots due to the launch angle and other things. And my serve wasn't as much of a weapon. But it definitely has good qualities I don't get with the 16x19. The control is amazing.
Looks like you've already made up your mind.. :D
Just do it.
Btw, Which 18X20?

p.s. I would have said that you could look at other 16X19 (or 20's) with a denser string pattern/smaller head etc (e.g Vcore 95, Vcore Pro 310, Prince Phantom line), but if you are going to buy new rackets anyway might as well go with the 18X20.
Eventually you'll adjust.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
@Ice-Borg many of properties you describe seem to be more about APD vs <other frame> rather than 16x19 vs 18x20. Particularly swingweight and twistweight.
So I second the question - what 18x20 have you been trying?

You can try some frame with denser 16x19 pattern compared to your APD, like EZONE 98. You can also experiment weighting up your APD and tinkering with strings a bit.

And working on your techniques is always a good pick8-B
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
@Dragy @Papa Mango The 18x20 is the Head Speed Pro 360+ at 45 tension with Lynx string.
Well, not that far apart in terms of SW and TW, though SW is a bit higher for Speed. But the hoop stifness is a big difference, overall mass and balance slightly different, and of course the string pattern - Pure Aero is a quite open 16x19.

Also comparing open pattern with shaped sting to denser pattern with round sleek string is alike comparing apples to oranges... If it was reversed, you could expect much closer results. So I believe you can get enough spin from racquets like Speed Pro or Prince Textreme Tour 100 (18x20) if you put into them spin-friendly, softish string. So if you don't rely on/don't strive for big spin arcing groundies, and your game isn't focused on good running and wearing down your opponent (where Pure Aero and analogous racquets really shine), you could go with those 18x20 for good.

Also, you can use some hybrid setups with syngut or multi in such a racquet for more juicy feel, easier power and comfort.
 

Ice-Borg

New User
So if you don't rely on/don't strive for big spin arcing groundies, and your game isn't focused on good running and wearing down your opponent (where Pure Aero and analogous racquets really shine), you could go with those 18x20 for good.
That currently IS my game, though sort of unintentionally. I want to hit flatter and be more aggressive and improve my net game.
Do you think if I swapped strings in the racquets I could try to get the best of both worlds?
 

blablavla

Legend
That currently IS my game, though sort of unintentionally. I want to hit flatter and be more aggressive and improve my net game.
Do you think if I swapped strings in the racquets I could try to get the best of both worlds?
while PA 16x19 makes a kick serve easier, 18x20 doesn't make it impossible.
if you can learn to generate that needed RHS, it will be there.

All the USO SF use 18x20 frames.
Thiem is using 18x20 and I think he delivers a lot of spin on every shot when he wants to.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
That currently IS my game, though sort of unintentionally. I want to hit flatter and be more aggressive and improve my net game.
Do you think if I swapped strings in the racquets I could try to get the best of both worlds?
Try it and see how it goes. I believe you loose nothing. Speed Pro is definitely more feel/control racquet than PA, still not extreme swap. Just don't seek farther until you play for several month (or drop it and get back). It may better suit your perspective game, but not replace training and practice ;)
 

Ice-Borg

New User
I can still put some kick on it but nothing like the Pure Arrow with spin strings. I put so much spin on my serves with that racquet I can get aces and muffed returns. With the Speed pro and round strings I just can’t get enough to make it as tough to return. On the other hand the round stringed speed pro makes it so the ball doesn’t fly as unpredictably off my racquet when I’m trying to block hard serves or shots back. The Speed Pro does seem heavier on the serve.

It’s a given I’m going to be practicing to improve my game no matter what racquet I use. I’m going to try to take the speed pro out with the ball machine to get used to it and give it a chance. Next time I string it I may try the cyclone at a lower tension than my Aero at 53 to make up for the lowered 18x20 power and see how it does.

I did fall in love with the control and the nice easy depth deflections of the 45 tension of the speed pro. I can often hit deep shots with it that just fall in and push my opponent back for some reason. With my aero, I was hitting lots of topspin but when on the run a lot were falling short with spin and sitting up right at the service line just begging my opponent to smack a winner.

One other option I’m demoing is the 18x 20 Blade. A lot lighter swing weight easier on the arm. Feel like I can swing more freely with it but not as good at easy blocking.
 

Morch Us

Professional
As some other folks already pointed out it is not "just" the string pattern in play here.
Pure Aero is a stiffer and extra form filled racket, vs the Head Speed Pro is a solid frame (well every frame has some form... but solid in comparison).
Just those differences make one move faster through air and the other not as much. Also one is made for more power.
So you could very well try some other solid frames in 16x19 pattern, with less stiffness, and solid frame.

That being said, you may still experience the loss of power in serve even with another 16x19 with less stiffness. The answer is to improve technique to gain more serve power without help from racket. The same could be said about other shots. But at some point you have to do what your mind says. So I will give you an advice which maybe more acceptable.

Just go with the new 18x20 Head Speed Pro, since you are already playing with it better overall (except for serve). But after buying that, DO NOT experiment with ANY other rackets for at least two years. You WILL improve your serve speed and kick, just work on it for next 3 months constantly with a bucket of balls. Serve is something you can practice on your own, and your own spare time.


The 18x20 is the Head Speed Pro 360+ at 45 tension with Lynx string.
Well, not that far apart in terms of SW and TW, though SW is a bit higher for Speed. But the hoop stifness is a big difference, overall mass and balance slightly different, and of course the string pattern - Pure Aero is a quite open 16x19.
I did fall in love with the control and the nice easy depth deflections of the 45 tension of the speed pro. I can often hit deep shots with it that just fall in and push my opponent back for some reason. With my aero, I was hitting lots of topspin but when on the run a lot were falling short with spin and sitting up right at the service line just begging my opponent to smack a winner.
 

Papa Mango

Semi-Pro
Try it and see how it goes. I believe you loose nothing. Speed Pro is definitely more feel/control racquet than PA, still not extreme swap. Just don't seek farther until you play for several month (or drop it and get back). It may better suit your perspective game, but not replace training and practice ;)
Even though it is not an extreme swap, there is so much space between the 2 rackets/set up that ... well nevermind.
But agree with you that OP needs to keep playing with for several months to figure out if the switch is working, especially once the honeymoon period is over. :D

Just go with the new 18x20 Head Speed Pro, since you are already playing with it better overall (except for serve). But after buying that, DO NOT experiment with ANY other rackets for at least two years. You WILL improve your serve speed and kick, just work on it for next 3 months constantly with a bucket of balls. Serve is something you can practice on your own, and your own spare time.
What are you and Dragy trying to do? Bankrupt TW? :laughing:
 

Papa Mango

Semi-Pro
I can still put some kick on it but nothing like the Pure Arrow with spin strings. I put so much spin on my serves with that racquet I can get aces and muffed returns. With the Speed pro and round strings I just can’t get enough to make it as tough to return. On the other hand the round stringed speed pro makes it so the ball doesn’t fly as unpredictably off my racquet when I’m trying to block hard serves or shots back. The Speed Pro does seem heavier on the serve.

It’s a given I’m going to be practicing to improve my game no matter what racquet I use. I’m going to try to take the speed pro out with the ball machine to get used to it and give it a chance. Next time I string it I may try the cyclone at a lower tension than my Aero at 53 to make up for the lowered 18x20 power and see how it does.

I did fall in love with the control and the nice easy depth deflections of the 45 tension of the speed pro. I can often hit deep shots with it that just fall in and push my opponent back for some reason. With my aero, I was hitting lots of topspin but when on the run a lot were falling short with spin and sitting up right at the service line just begging my opponent to smack a winner.

One other option I’m demoing is the 18x 20 Blade. A lot lighter swing weight easier on the arm. Feel like I can swing more freely with it but not as good at easy blocking.
Good luck with the experiment. My $0.02 like the others have said is to give it enough time.
With the 18X20, don't be afraid to test different string set ups.
I am a big fan of higher differentials even with a full bed on denser string patterns. YMMV
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Why are you not playing with the same strings and tension with the Speed as you are with the Pure Aero? That’s how you find out the difference with the two racquets independent of strings.

When I’ve changed from a dense to open pattern or vice versa in the past on racquets with similar specs otherwise using the same strings and tension, it takes only about 10 hours to adjust my swing with serves and slice taking the longest. Also, you are better off doing drilling, ball machine sessions and serve practice if you want to switch racquets with different string patterns than playing matches. It is not possible to adjust your swing on shots and serves in a systematic manner during a match. Since you should have more control with the Speed, you have to adjust to have more racquet head speed (RHS) with the Speed to get the same spin on shots and serves as you did with the Aero - swing harder.

As others have mentioned, the Speed and Aero are quite different independent of the string pattern and you need to carefully evaluate them independent of the impact from different strings and tensions before you decide whether it is worth it to make the switch. If you decide to switch, it won’t take more than a couple of weeks to adjust.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
Guys, I need some advice. My regular racquet is a 16 x 19. I'm a 3.5 player and typically hit a lot of loopy topspin forehands. Backhand is flatter. I can also hit good slice and have a good spinny drop shot. I also get a lot of good kick on my serves.

I've found one annoying issue is that my topspin forehand is giving my opponent a lot of time to get to the ball and get into position. I have tried to hit lower over the net, but it still seems that the ball flies off the racquet, but then sort of hovers over the net, bounces and still sits up.

I've recently been testing out a new 18x20 racquet. I've found that I can hit flatter forehands with it (though I need to work on that stroke) and that I have much more directional control over the ball and it also blocks hard serves and shots back very well getting good depth.
The 16x19 racquet, blocking back, is riskier as I don't know exactly where the ball will fly off.

The problem with 18x20 is that it diminishes my serve a lot as my serve typically has a lot of kick and 18x20 takes away some of the spin. It also feels like I'm smacking the serve with blunt force and its tougher on my arm. Also 18x20 gives a lower trajectory off the racquet head. My muscle memory is used to the 16x19 so it's a learning process as I learn how this racquet reacts. So far the lower trajectory has lead to net shots on some short balls.

As for volleys, I suck at them so I typically avoid the net. However, I'm going to try to work on them with a ball machine. I've heard the 18x20 is better for volleys.

So here is my dilemma. Do you think it is worth the time it will take me to practice with and adjust to the 18x20? Or do you think I should just forget it and stick with 16x19?

So far here are pros and cons I've found:

16x19: Pros: Easier spin/ slice. Much better/ easier serves. I'm already used to it.

18x20: Pros: Much better blocking back return of serve and hard shots deep, much better directional control on shots, easier to hit flat. Easier to hit volleys once I learn.
18x20 can be tuned to get some of the serve pop back by adjusting tension. Next time string the mains 5 lbs tighter and the crosses 5 lbs lower than you are now.

Agree that this is more than an 18x20 vs 16x19 question
 

zaph

Professional
You're a 3.5 level player, like myself. If you try to win points by hitting flat winners, you will self destruct and lose.

That is exactly what happened when I played last night. My opponent hit flat powerful shots, I hit with a lot more spin. A casual observer would assume I would lose, what actually happened is my spin shots neutralised my opponents power and had a higher margin of safety. Sure he was able to get to most of them but he struggled to hit flat shots off my higher bouncing shots. Eventually he either blasted it long or into the net.

Steadiness is a weapon in tennis, it isn't all about winners, especially at the level you're playing at.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
Steadiness is a weapon in tennis, it isn't all about winners, especially at the level you're playing at.
You are right, but steadiness is based on feel and confidence, as well as capitalizes on opponent having less freedom to push you around. You can be quite steady with moderate pace flattish (less spin) shots hit CC and landing deep. I mean, if OP feels his current shots (with current techniques, footwork, racquet and strings) sit up and don’t reach deep enough to complicate things for opponents, he is absolutely legit to look for things. Equipment is not the first determining factor, but also not the least - it’s more about how correctly you approach the case and limit your expectations on the racquet to “complimenting” play style, not winning points for you.
 

zaph

Professional
You are right, but steadiness is based on feel and confidence, as well as capitalizes on opponent having less freedom to push you around. You can be quite steady with moderate pace flattish (less spin) shots hit CC and landing deep. I mean, if OP feels his current shots (with current techniques, footwork, racquet and strings) sit up and don’t reach deep enough to complicate things for opponents, he is absolutely legit to look for things. Equipment is not the first determining factor, but also not the least - it’s more about how correctly you approach the case and limit your expectations on the racquet to “complimenting” play style, not winning points for you.
You might be right but I read it as just another rec player who thinks tennis shouldn't involved any ralies and wants to smack their opponent off the court. Which isn't a realistic way of playing, especially if you're playing someone the same level as you.
 

basil J

Hall of Fame
I learned to play with 18 x 20 string pattern frames and have never had any issue generating spin or kick. One of the best frames I have ever served with was the Dunlop 200G MW and they don't get much lower powered or denser than those. I have over the years used 16 x 19, 16 x 20 and even 16 x 18 patterns and it really is dependent on the actual frame, density of the string bed and how evenly spaced the strings are. Open string patterns, for me, create higher launch angles and less control than denser string beds and I find slicing is usually better with a tight string bed. I guess you have to experiment and find a stick that is comfortable and feels great in your hand when you are playing, and get dialed into it by practicing and trying out different string and weight set ups. There is no magic wand out there.
 

Ice-Borg

New User
Now I'm caught in limbo. I played a match and switched back and forth between the Aero and the Head. The court was sloped. When I had to play uphill I used the Aero to get more spin and when I played downhill I used the Head to hit flatter. It ended up working as just when my opponent got used to returning shots from one racquet I'd switch and induce errors. I ended up winning in 3 sets with the lead constantly going back and forth. Obviously not a long term solution. But in this match I'd get to a point where my strokes broke down with one racquet and I'd switch to the other out of desperation and could somehow execute again. Then repeat cycle. It was definitely the weirdest racquet based match I've ever played. The Aero won me some serve games and the Head won me some return games. I wish I could somehow combine the strengths of these two while getting rid of the weaknesses. In some situations I need access to the easy spin. In some situations I need the control. I'm currently in a conflicted state of torture as I have no idea what racquet to use for my next match. Plus I just checked and it seems the previous version of my Pure Aero is no longer being sold my TW! If I ended up choosing to stay with the Pure Aero I was going to buy new ones before they disappeared. Not good. I don't like the new Pure Aeros. I demoed one and it swung way too light. Was terrible.
 

Ice-Borg

New User
Hmmm. What are the rules on switching racquets during a match? Are there any? Could I set up both racquets on the back fence on each changeover and use one for my serve game and one for my return game?
 
Hmmm. What are the rules on switching racquets during a match? Are there any? Could I set up both racquets on the back fence on each changeover and use one for my serve game and one for my return game?
Tennis I don't know. I think badminton allows switching racquets during a POINT, like you break the string from a smash then you run to your seat to grab a new racquet and keep playing.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
Hmmm. What are the rules on switching racquets during a match? Are there any? Could I set up both racquets on the back fence on each changeover and use one for my serve game and one for my return game?
You could actually change racquets every point as long as what you do doesn't disrupt the other player by taking too long. If you are the receiver, you're supposed to play at the pace of the server.

Probably the only thing you really need to do is to ask your opponent if they are okay with you leaving a racquet at the back of the court, just out of courtesy.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
18x20 racquets may be a bit heavier giving you more depth. One experiment you could try is adding a little lead tape on your 16/x19 to see if that gives you the depth you want without sacrificing spin.
 
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