Reconsidering racquet choices

Injured Again

Professional
This National gold ball 60+ indoor tournament just happened in our area:


I went and watched the semifinal rounds and it was truly eye opening the racquet choices that were used by these national level age group competitors. More on this later.

Where I am: I'm 58 years old, and USTA ranked 4.5. I've been ranked as high as around 20 in my region in the 50's and 55's, but there's a glass ceiling I can't get beyond. My strengths are that I can and do hit the ball as hard or harder, and with as much spin, as any of the competitors in my age group, but I miss more. In terms of court coverage, I'm probably just better than average for my age. I pretty easily dominate lower level competition because of strength of shot, but the top guys in my age group are all good enough to play with and train junior players, and my shots are not as strong as what they see from those players so more often than not they are able to defend well enough until I eventually miss. I've hung with the top guys pretty consistently early in sets but when it comes down to crunch time, I either overhit, mis-hit, or do something to miss an extra shot, and there goes a serve game. I can't tell you the number of one-break 6-3 or 6-4 first sets I've lost. And after losing that first set, it's more often than not a two-break second set loss as I press even harder and typically end up missing more.

If I hit the ball with a little less speed and with more spin but also more consistently, it ends up being right in the wheelhouse of these top guys, and they start moving me around and using my pace to put me in tough positions from which I usually can't recover, and they either win the point or I'll miss trying to hit a good enough shot to keep from being run around more.

At the beginning of this year, the last of my stash of Babolat Overdrive 110 racquets developed a crack, and I could not find a new replacement 110 square inch racquet that had the same response. I switched to an SW104, which has helped parts of my game but has hurt others. What is better is that I now hit the ball harder and more consistently when I'm set up. I can hit putaway shots on tougher balls than I could before. But when I'm on the move I tend to mis-hit and just plain miss more. I think my game is more dominating against players weaker than me because my offense is better, but it is more compromised against players stronger than me because my defense is worse. I'm captain of a 55+ 9.0 team that players three doubles matches, and my doubles play is also worse with this smaller racquet.

So back to the gold ball tournament. So many of these competitors were using oversized racquets. One of the doubles semifinals featured a pair of Big Bubbas, competing against what looked like a 115 square inch racquet and one player with a roughly 100 square inch racquet. The guy with the smallest racquet was also the weakest player of the four. The one singles semifinal I saw had both competitors using Pure Drives, and one I believe was the 107 square inch version. The doubles players would slaughter me - they almost never missed when they shouldn't, and consistently dug out shots I would never be able to. The singles players all hit the ball deep, moved each other around, hit the ball deep and well placed enough to not be easily attackable even when they were on the move, and the moment they got an attackable ball, put the ball in a tough shot.

I'm now really rethinking my choice of racquet. With every year, the court gets bigger for me and defense becomes more of a premium than it seems offensive ability is. The pros at my Club say that by fixing a few things, I can get more consistent, but I don't know if I have the talent to fix these things. I mean, I've tried fixing these same issues for years and while I'm better, they are still clear weaknesses.

For those of you who are 55+ open age group players, what have you done in terms of racquet choice?
 

tennis347

Professional
This National gold ball 60+ indoor tournament just happened in our area:


I went and watched the semifinal rounds and it was truly eye opening the racquet choices that were used by these national level age group competitors. More on this later.

Where I am: I'm 58 years old, and USTA ranked 4.5. I've been ranked as high as around 20 in my region in the 50's and 55's, but there's a glass ceiling I can't get beyond. My strengths are that I can and do hit the ball as hard or harder, and with as much spin, as any of the competitors in my age group, but I miss more. In terms of court coverage, I'm probably just better than average for my age. I pretty easily dominate lower level competition because of strength of shot, but the top guys in my age group are all good enough to play with and train junior players, and my shots are not as strong as what they see from those players so more often than not they are able to defend well enough until I eventually miss. I've hung with the top guys pretty consistently early in sets but when it comes down to crunch time, I either overhit, mis-hit, or do something to miss an extra shot, and there goes a serve game. I can't tell you the number of one-break 6-3 or 6-4 first sets I've lost. And after losing that first set, it's more often than not a two-break second set loss as I press even harder and typically end up missing more.

If I hit the ball with a little less speed and with more spin but also more consistently, it ends up being right in the wheelhouse of these top guys, and they start moving me around and using my pace to put me in tough positions from which I usually can't recover, and they either win the point or I'll miss trying to hit a good enough shot to keep from being run around more.

At the beginning of this year, the last of my stash of Babolat Overdrive 110 racquets developed a crack, and I could not find a new replacement 110 square inch racquet that had the same response. I switched to an SW104, which has helped parts of my game but has hurt others. What is better is that I now hit the ball harder and more consistently when I'm set up. I can hit putaway shots on tougher balls than I could before. But when I'm on the move I tend to mis-hit and just plain miss more. I think my game is more dominating against players weaker than me because my offense is better, but it is more compromised against players stronger than me because my defense is worse. I'm captain of a 55+ 9.0 team that players three doubles matches, and my doubles play is also worse with this smaller racquet.

So back to the gold ball tournament. So many of these competitors were using oversized racquets. One of the doubles semifinals featured a pair of Big Bubbas, competing against what looked like a 115 square inch racquet and one player with a roughly 100 square inch racquet. The guy with the smallest racquet was also the weakest player of the four. The one singles semifinal I saw had both competitors using Pure Drives, and one I believe was the 107 square inch version. The doubles players would slaughter me - they almost never missed when they shouldn't, and consistently dug out shots I would never be able to. The singles players all hit the ball deep, moved each other around, hit the ball deep and well placed enough to not be easily attackable even when they were on the move, and the moment they got an attackable ball, put the ball in a tough shot.

I'm now really rethinking my choice of racquet. With every year, the court gets bigger for me and defense becomes more of a premium than it seems offensive ability is. The pros at my Club say that by fixing a few things, I can get more consistent, but I don't know if I have the talent to fix these things. I mean, I've tried fixing these same issues for years and while I'm better, they are still clear weaknesses.

For those of you who are 55+ open age group players, what have you done in terms of racquet choice?
I have not competed at the frequency that you have but I can tell you as player in my early 50’s at the 4.0-4.5 level, I would be looking at a racquet that will give you easy power and spin, assuming you don’t have any arm issues. If you have been playing with a Babolat and it agrees with your arm, I would be looking to demo one of the Pure Drives or the Aeros.

If you happen to have arm problems then I would be looking at Pro Kennex frame as most of their line is arm friendly. I have been using the Pro Kennex 7G for a while due to arm issues. It’s not a power frame but has a good swing weight and will put nice mass behind the ball. I am currently tinkering with the new Wilson Blade 98 16 x 19 which is good all around racquet but on the lower power side. Not sure if I will completely make the switch.

If my arm was healthy, I would use a Babolat frame. Just my two cents from another veteran player who has been playing for almost 30 years. Good luck finding a new racquet!
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
I'm a similar age and could not play with a racquet larger than 100 square inches. Just not enough control or feel for me.

If you hit the ball hard and can serve with a lower powered more control oriented racquet, I'd urge you to try to spend some time getting used to one and see if your consistency picks up.

Of course the other option is to stick with the big racquets and look for ways in your current game to not get into long points.
 

Shangri La

Hall of Fame
POG OS for its forgiveness, hitting a punishing ball and dictating the point. With the bonus of some nice ball feel.
 

topspn

Hall of Fame
I’ve never seen retired pro players with an over sized racquet like Edberg, McEnroe, etc. You do see an awful lot in recreational older players or as you said these USTA tournaments for the above 60 or so group. They don’t miss much because they don’t have to hit hard to get en effective ball. Its a bit like cheating except they all do it. Easy short strokes with decent pace from an oversize. Also makes defending easier. It is certainly one way to go. I think i will hang in there with my aging body and 100 or under head size for as long as i can.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I have not competed at the frequency that you have but I can tell you as player in my early 50’s at the 4.0-4.5 level, I would be looking at a racquet that will give you easy power and spin, assuming you don’t have any arm issues. If you have been playing with a Babolat and it agrees with your arm, I would be looking to demo one of the Pure Drives or the Aeros.

If you happen to have arm problems then I would be looking at Pro Kennex frame as most of their line is arm friendly. I have been using the Pro Kennex 7G for a while due to arm issues. It’s not a power frame but has a good swing weight and will put nice mass behind the ball. I am currently tinkering with the new Wilson Blade 98 16 x 19 which is good all around racquet but on the lower power side. Not sure if I will completely make the switch.

If my arm was healthy, I would use a Babolat frame. Just my two cents from another veteran player who has been playing for almost 30 years. Good luck finding a new racquet!
I guess my question is really more at what point do I just give in to the realization that future improvement is not possible and instead of using a racquet which maximizes my offensive capability and gives me more possibility for future skill gains, I should move towards a racquet which helps me in defensive situations, because the court gets larger for me every year and more of my shots are from a defensive posture against the guys that are at the top of my age group.

I loved the way the Babolat Overdrive 110 hit, and when my last one cracked I tried the current and the previous generation of the same racquet. They did not feel even remotely related to the Overdrive 110, which I had modified up to 355 grams with about a 340-345 swingweight. So kind of a hybrid of granny stick dimensions with player stick weight. Rarely had problems caused by the racquet, but injured a lot anyway.

Thanks for your insights!
 

Injured Again

Professional
I'm a similar age and could not play with a racquet larger than 100 square inches. Just not enough control or feel for me.

If you hit the ball hard and can serve with a lower powered more control oriented racquet, I'd urge you to try to spend some time getting used to one and see if your consistency picks up.

Of course the other option is to stick with the big racquets and look for ways in your current game to not get into long points.
My consistency is fine normally - I have no problems hitting six to eight pretty forceful shots in a row as long as the returns come back somewhere down the middle of the court, no matter the spin. The problem is that the guys who beat me take anything other than my best pace and block the ball back short and angled, or change height/pace and get me out of timing. Footwork is an issue, understanding what shot to hit to keep them from outright attacking is an issue, understanding what I do wrong the shot before I get into trouble is an issue. Guys at my Club who have played a thousand or more competitive matches say that this is just is the price they paid by playing all those matches - and that is how they gained a better tactical sense. I don't have that pedigree, and so many of these shots put me into a position where I really just don't know how to respond, or if I even know how to respond, I don't have the skillset to execute the shot.

So how do I know that future improvements aren't going to be possible, or won't be sufficient enough to overcome the defensive liabilities of playing with a smaller headed racquet?
 

Injured Again

Professional
POG OS for its forgiveness, hitting a punishing ball and dictating the point. With the bonus of some nice ball feel.
I have one - it's a one-stripe one that I used back in the '80s, and have been thinking of trying an extended buttcap on it. It hits a beautiful ball and is **WAY** more powerful than my SW104, only problem is that I need the reach since I'm slowing down physically, and it's already 370 grams with a 350 or so swingweight at 27 inches, so extending it to 27.5 inches is going to make it way too hefty to be effective.

Are the ones available now lighter?
 

Injured Again

Professional
I’ve never seen retired pro players with an over sized racquet like Edberg, McEnroe, etc. You do see an awful lot in recreational older players or as you said these USTA tournaments for the above 60 or so group. They don’t miss much because they don’t have to hit hard to get en effective ball. Its a bit like cheating except they all do it. Easy short strokes with decent pace from an oversize. Also makes defending easier. It is certainly one way to go. I think i will hang in there with my aging body and 100 or under head size for as long as i can.
Except that this is a national, level 1 tournament. The winner gets a gold ball as national champ. There were players from across the country. So these are the very best of the 60 year recreational players in the nation. I wonder if they feel that guys like McEnroe have a skillset that they don't and can never possess, and so can use a racquet like that. I look at these guys who are in contention for a gold ball and wonder if they have a skillset that I don't have and can never possess, but maybe I should follow their lead since that is what the cream of the crop 60 year old age group players use.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
My consistency is fine normally - I have no problems hitting six to eight pretty forceful shots in a row as long as the returns come back somewhere down the middle of the court, no matter the spin. The problem is that the guys who beat me take anything other than my best pace and block the ball back short and angled, or change height/pace and get me out of timing. Footwork is an issue, understanding what shot to hit to keep them from outright attacking is an issue, understanding what I do wrong the shot before I get into trouble is an issue. Guys at my Club who have played a thousand or more competitive matches say that this is just is the price they paid by playing all those matches - and that is how they gained a better tactical sense. I don't have that pedigree, and so many of these shots put me into a position where I really just don't know how to respond, or if I even know how to respond, I don't have the skillset to execute the shot.

So how do I know that future improvements aren't going to be possible, or won't be sufficient enough to overcome the defensive liabilities of playing with a smaller headed racquet?
What are you doing with those short angled balls? It sounds like if you can't prevent them with depth and placement (that a more control oriented racquet may give you), you need to find a better way of actually dealing with them. Do you realise these shots are opening up the court for you, or are you just trying to get it back in play and hope for something up the middle that you can hit hard?
 

Injured Again

Professional
What are you doing with those short angled balls? It sounds like if you can't prevent them with depth and placement (that a more control oriented racquet may give you), you need to find a better way of actually dealing with them. Do you realise these shots are opening up the court for you, or are you just trying to get it back in play and hope for something up the middle that you can hit hard?
It's multi-faceted what these guys do to me. A lot of times, they will figure out some pattern and keep feeding that to me until I can prove I know how to handle it. One of the last matches I played, I had this one single pattern used against me probably a dozen times over the course of two sets. It typically happens when I get into a bit of trouble the shot before, and then I hit a less effective than normal groundstroke to their backhand (for a righty) corner. These guys redirect it short and angled so by the time I reach it, I'm in the doubles alley on my backhand side. I'm then pretty much in trouble because all I can do is underspin approach. I don't have the skillset to be running forward and drop shot it, re-angle it sharply back, or hit a topspin shot with a one-handed backhand. If I try these, I can make some spectacular shots, but will miss eight out of ten. So I go down the line or crosscourt with an underspin approach, and then there's too much court to cover in front of me, and they have the hands to redirect it back low behind me also. I just don't know how much better I can get at hitting an approach shot - what I hit has a lot of spin, good direction, and decent speed, but these guys can handle these and if they can't outright pass me, will put another ball low and at my feet. With their larger racquets, they don't have to swing hard at it - just block it down low if they are under pressure and wait for the next shot. Eventually, I press too much and make a mistake. I've tried approaching down the middle to cut down their angles, but then these guys are standing there and can usually also put a lob within five feet of the baseline off that approach. I can't hit my response well enough or with enough variety under that kind of pressure with that racquet, and I don't have the skillset on the previous shot to have hit it effectively enough - it may have been a mis-hit, or it may have been mistimed because my racquet is heavier and more demanding. I hit more forcing shots and more winners with my current racquet, but I also hit weaker shots when I'm in trouble.

So I watch these guys play other top age groupers, and they are better at not giving their opponent the shot they can angle off short. From the same position and under the same pressure as I am, these guys hit the ball more accurately, maybe hit it a bit higher to give themselves time to get into a better position, but rarely hit it as hard as I would hit it, even if I don't hit it cleanly. So I try that, and maybe I still mis-hit it, in which case it then bounces around the service line and gives my opponent even more ability to attack my movement.

It again kind of seems like it goes back to the question of how much more improvement is possible for someone nearing 60, and should I give up hopes of ever getting better offensively and just concentrate on being better defensively, to keep myself in the point longer even if I may not have quite as good of a chance of offensively taking the point.
 

Shangri La

Hall of Fame
I have one - it's a one-stripe one that I used back in the '80s, and have been thinking of trying an extended buttcap on it. It hits a beautiful ball and is **WAY** more powerful than my SW104, only problem is that I need the reach since I'm slowing down physically, and it's already 370 grams with a 350 or so swingweight at 27 inches, so extending it to 27.5 inches is going to make it way too hefty to be effective.

Are the ones available now lighter?
The current ones are a lot ligher than what you have. But I'm really not sure if extended racquets with high weight and swingweight help more with the reach or hinder your ability to hit a clean ball on the move. Your racquet choice seems to be out of most players range and could make a big impact on your game. I'd consult a knowledgeable coach. And I dont think examples of Edberg/Mac are remotely relevent. Good luck on the search.
 

tennis347

Professional
I guess my question is really more at what point do I just give in to the realization that future improvement is not possible and instead of using a racquet which maximizes my offensive capability and gives me more possibility for future skill gains, I should move towards a racquet which helps me in defensive situations, because the court gets larger for me every year and more of my shots are from a defensive posture against the guys that are at the top of my age group.

I loved the way the Babolat Overdrive 110 hit, and when my last one cracked I tried the current and the previous generation of the same racquet. They did not feel even remotely related to the Overdrive 110, which I had modified up to 355 grams with about a 340-345 swingweight. So kind of a hybrid of granny stick dimensions with player stick weight. Rarely had problems caused by the racquet, but injured a lot anyway.

Thanks for your insights!
I hear what you are saying. If you need a racquet that will help you with defense, it needs some swing weight. I would like at a newer Pro Kennex that is extended length which will already have a higher swing weight. You could always add some weight. You will get more of a balance of power and control.
 
I have one - it's a one-stripe one that I used back in the '80s, and have been thinking of trying an extended buttcap on it. It hits a beautiful ball and is **WAY** more powerful than my SW104, only problem is that I need the reach since I'm slowing down physically, and it's already 370 grams with a 350 or so swingweight at 27 inches, so extending it to 27.5 inches is going to make it way too hefty to be effective.

Are the ones available now lighter?
I think you may be over-estimating the advantage of more reach, and under-estimating the advantages of an impact point closer to your hand. Give the POG another shot.

All of my midplus frames (more than 30 of them) are cut down 1/4”. The POG OS is the right length for me without needing to be cut.
 

McLovin

Legend
Our local pro is a 5.0 and plays a bunch of the National level tournaments. He's been using the Pure Drive Roddick since it came out (previous stick was the Micro Gel Radical). At 58, his game is still the classic all-court Eastern grip, flat 1-handed backhand, short, compact strokes game-of-old, but the racquet has allowed him to do it more effectively, especially against some of the bigger hitters.

I'd say stay in the PD family and give the PD+ a swing. Its still relatively light at 300g and has a fairly low swingweight for a '+' frame.

Also...what strings are you using? Maybe look into gut/poly or full poly w/ really low tensions (< 45lbs).

I'm not quite up there yet (51), but have finally moved to a lighter frame in the VCORE 98 +. Try as I may, I just cannot get used to anything larger than 98, which is ironic since most of my teenage years were spent w/ an oversize (Prince Graphite, CTS Blast, Donnay Pro One, a few Yonex OSs).
 

34n

Semi-Pro
Did you try experimenting with strings?
My defensive game struggle if the power level of the raquet is not in my range.
By power level I mean combination of all factors - frame, SW, strings. If the power level is in the range I can keep depth without much effort, without overswinging or abbreviating swing.

I am pretty sure that with correct stringing choice and tension I can adjust power level of practically any frame. So I take extra effort and time of experimenting with strings. Once I find a good setup I string 3 frames with 1 lb difference and take them to a tournament. On the court during warmup and first couple of games I figure out what tension is the best for current conditions.

For tournament play I would vote for the PD family. I play with regular PD both against top national veterans or open level juniors and it works fine in every aspect. Very controllable and forgiving frame ( I posted videos of a few matches recently)
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
I don’t really see how gear change may significantly help you against those very good guys. If you couldn’t do it with what you’ve been used to for a very long time, how can you be even more consistent all the while being even more aggressive with an unfamiliar setup?

Apart from practicing more/better or seeking professional tactical advice, not much more you can do. Trying new frames and strings is, to a point, fun. Very interesting thread, though.
 

Harrybollz

New User
Hi, i am not sure how you swing your groundstrokes.
If u have a complete stroke, my dad of 70 is on Yonex Ezone 98 and my wife who is a beginner is on the Yonex Ezone Dr Lite.
Their balls land very near the baseline. Give it a try.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I hear what you are saying. If you need a racquet that will help you with defense, it needs some swing weight. I would like at a newer Pro Kennex that is extended length which will already have a higher swing weight. You could always add some weight. You will get more of a balance of power and control.
Earlier you said you use a 7G. Which of their racquets would you recommend I test? I think something around 110 square inches would be what I'd be after. I'm also using around a size 6 grip, so adding at least 30 grams to the handle via heat shrink sleeves is going to be a requirement. Thanks.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I think you may be over-estimating the advantage of more reach, and under-estimating the advantages of an impact point closer to your hand. Give the POG another shot.

All of my midplus frames (more than 30 of them) are cut down 1/4”. The POG OS is the right length for me without needing to be cut.
I dunno - I find I hit a lot of balls high on the stringbed because I can't quite get there fast enough, and with every year the court gets larger. So while the SW104 and my previous Babolat were only 1/2 inch different in length, the longer stringbed and slightly lower sweetspot location on the Babolat made the ideal contact point about 1.5 inches lower than on the SW104. I seem to have more ability to swing a longer racquet on the hard run than to run faster on the hard run and swing a shorter racquet.

When are you back in town? We still need to get together for a hit!
 
I dunno - I find I hit a lot of balls high on the stringbed because I can't quite get there fast enough, and with every year the court gets larger. So while the SW104 and my previous Babolat were only 1/2 inch different in length, the longer stringbed and slightly lower sweetspot location on the Babolat made the ideal contact point about 1.5 inches lower than on the SW104. I seem to have more ability to swing a longer racquet on the hard run than to run faster on the hard run and swing a shorter racquet.

When are you back in town? We still need to get together for a hit!
I’ll start commuting back and forth across the equator in mid October.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Our local pro is a 5.0 and plays a bunch of the National level tournaments. He's been using the Pure Drive Roddick since it came out (previous stick was the Micro Gel Radical). At 58, his game is still the classic all-court Eastern grip, flat 1-handed backhand, short, compact strokes game-of-old, but the racquet has allowed him to do it more effectively, especially against some of the bigger hitters.

I'd say stay in the PD family and give the PD+ a swing. Its still relatively light at 300g and has a fairly low swingweight for a '+' frame.

Also...what strings are you using? Maybe look into gut/poly or full poly w/ really low tensions (< 45lbs).

I'm not quite up there yet (51), but have finally moved to a lighter frame in the VCORE 98 +. Try as I may, I just cannot get used to anything larger than 98, which is ironic since most of my teenage years were spent w/ an oversize (Prince Graphite, CTS Blast, Donnay Pro One, a few Yonex OSs).
A pro at my Club just turned 55 and has been ranked in the top 5 in the 45's in our area for the last ten years, and also plays with around 100 square inch racquet. I've never had the opportunity to play him in an age group tournament since he still plays 35's and 45's (last year in our state championships, he won the 35's and was a runner-up in the 45's). The guy just has racquet control and swing accuracy that I could never achieve, along with great anticipation that he honed from more than a thousand tournament matches. And he beats these same guys that torment me. I've taken lessons from him and ask him a lot about how to improve my game against age groupers, and a lot of it has to do with just being more consistent. When we've played practice sets, he wins points the same way - he gets me into a situation where I don't hit the ball cleanly or timed well, it lands short and/or ineffectively, and he pounces. I've asked what I can do to prevent that and he tells me that on those shots, I sometimes don't need to hit it as well as I'm trying to. Only thing is, my problem is that I think I am going to hit that very ball well until I don't, because I mis-hit or mis-time that shot when I don't think I'm going to. Which is why I'm wondering if a larger racquet would help. I've never asked him that, and maybe I should. Good thing is that I'm captain of a 55+ 9.0 team and he's playing on my team this year, so hopefully there will be some good advice coming my way.

How much lighter of a frame did you move to with the VCORE 98+ and how difficult of an adjustment was it?
 

Injured Again

Professional
Did you try experimenting with strings?
My defensive game struggle if the power level of the raquet is not in my range.
By power level I mean combination of all factors - frame, SW, strings. If the power level is in the range I can keep depth without much effort, without overswinging or abbreviating swing.

I am pretty sure that with correct stringing choice and tension I can adjust power level of practically any frame. So I take extra effort and time of experimenting with strings. Once I find a good setup I string 3 frames with 1 lb difference and take them to a tournament. On the court during warmup and first couple of games I figure out what tension is the best for current conditions.

For tournament play I would vote for the PD family. I play with regular PD both against top national veterans or open level juniors and it works fine in every aspect. Very controllable and forgiving frame ( I posted videos of a few matches recently)
When I switched to the SW104 at the beginning of this year, I tried about 25 different strings. Mostly it was to try and regain the higher launch angle I got from the 16X19 Overdrive 110 racquet, and I had settled on Solinco Revolution 18 gauge as my go-to string until I was selected as playtester for the Tourna Silver 7 Tour. The S7T gives me that higher launch angle plus more power, which I wasn't looking for. I had always hoped to stay with a fairly low powered string to force me to generate my own pace until I just physically couldn't any longer, at which time I would still have more powerful string setups, and probably also lighter racquets, to fall back on. With the S7T, I just fell in love with the power levels - it helped me be more effective on putaway shots from the baseline, but also helped when I was hard on the move and in a defensive position. I never had really good touch before and definitely the higher power levels make it a bit more difficult to hit drop shots, drop volleys, and even short angled volleys, but the added defensive ability has been nice. But no string is going to help that much when I mis-hit or mis-time and leave the ball short.

So what racquet specs are you using in terms of static weight and swingweight? Maybe I'm going at this the wrong way and should try to use a lighter setup to give me a bit more ability to make a last moment adjustment, rather than to go larger.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I don’t really see how gear change may significantly help you against those very good guys. If you couldn’t do it with what you’ve been used to for a very long time, how can you be even more consistent all the while being even more aggressive with an unfamiliar setup?

Apart from practicing more/better or seeking professional tactical advice, not much more you can do. Trying new frames and strings is, to a point, fun. Very interesting thread, though.
I retired a couple of years ago so time is a luxury I didn't have before. I think I'm a stronger player from a stroke production viewpoint now than when I was in my earlier 50's and working, and my cardiovascular fitness is also better now. But I think I was also a better athlete in my early 50's, able to cover more court, change direction faster, and be more flexible and on balance when moving hard than I am now. I'm pretty sure that despite less effective strokes, the younger me would beat the current me 70% of the time.

But I asked for advice because I just want to know how others have handled losing physical ability, and how equipment choices can be used to make up for deficits that are never going to be recovered. And aside from the physical ability, I just can't visually track a really fast ball like I used to either. I don't think my son serves any harder now than he did five years ago but I have more trouble picking it up as quickly. It seems to take me longer to judge the speed more than anything else, so I mis-time and mis-hit returns more and have to return with shorter, more defensive strokes. The guys that beat me have to be going through it too, and maybe that's why at a gold-ball tournament, I saw the racquet choices I mentioned in my first post. I just wanted to get as many perspectives as possible to see what might be most helpful.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I’ll start commuting back and forth across the equator in mid October.
Give me a shout when you're back in town and let's schedule a time! I went and looked at Sand Point and it's a darned nice facility. A guy who is a member of our Club is the MRT there and tells me they will be installing Playsight soon. Would love to try it out!
 

McLovin

Legend
How much lighter of a frame did you move to with the VCORE 98+ and how difficult of an adjustment was it?
Not that much lighter...about 10g. I gave myself 3 months before I’d assess the change. It was a roller coaster ride for the first 2, but now that I’m 4 months in, I know I made the right decision.

My backhand was the hardest part. I really like the heft on my 2 hander, but I’ve adjusted at this point. Only modification I made was replacing the base grip w/ a thicker one, which added about 3g.
 

34n

Semi-Pro
So what racquet specs are you using in terms of static weight and swingweight? Maybe I'm going at this the wrong way and should try to use a lighter setup to give me a bit more ability to make a last moment adjustment, rather than to go larger.
I use regular PD, static weight 330g strung. I do not know about the SW. I just added leather grip to stock frames and may be around 2g lead tape at various positions to match the weight and SW of three frames I use. ( I just move 1g weight up and down the frame until if feels right)
This is a significantly lighter setup from what I used to play when I was a kid and in the university. I used 13.5 oz wood frame since about 15yo and later played with an early graphite 13 oz.
I use HyperG/Prince Syn Gut and can tell this is a great combo for PD. ( 51 to 54lb). Tried many other strings and combinations, nothing stands close. ( I realize this is personal preference but recommend trying it any way)

You mentioned you hit with the upper part of the frame. Me too. This is not a lack of reach most likely. In my case I see two causes. One - I used to small head sizes ( grew up with wood frames). Center of string bed of my wood frame is further from the handle than center of the 100" frame . Second reason - at some shots I like stiffer string bed which is in the upper part of the hoop.
What I liked about the PD in particular is that it plays very well with upper 1/3 of the hoop. I tried briefly other modern frames but they are mostly dead when you mishit. Softer frames have especially dead tips.
So I realize that I play either with light stiff frame or with a soft one but with added weight, otherwise I will be giving a lot of short balls.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
I retired a couple of years ago so time is a luxury I didn't have before. I think I'm a stronger player from a stroke production viewpoint now than when I was in my earlier 50's and working, and my cardiovascular fitness is also better now. But I think I was also a better athlete in my early 50's, able to cover more court, change direction faster, and be more flexible and on balance when moving hard than I am now. I'm pretty sure that despite less effective strokes, the younger me would beat the current me 70% of the time.

But I asked for advice because I just want to know how others have handled losing physical ability, and how equipment choices can be used to make up for deficits that are never going to be recovered. And aside from the physical ability, I just can't visually track a really fast ball like I used to either. I don't think my son serves any harder now than he did five years ago but I have more trouble picking it up as quickly. It seems to take me longer to judge the speed more than anything else, so I mis-time and mis-hit returns more and have to return with shorter, more defensive strokes. The guys that beat me have to be going through it too, and maybe that's why at a gold-ball tournament, I saw the racquet choices I mentioned in my first post. I just wanted to get as many perspectives as possible to see what might be most helpful.
Hello and thank you for your explanation.

We all hit our ceilings as tennis players (regardless of age) and it’s only logical to look for the edge - physical, tactical and, for sure, technical - so I completely understand.

I was in similar situation two years ago. Having started playing against top amateur level clay court players in my area, I conceded that I’m not good enough to shoot through them with my go-to racquets (thin beamed, small head players frames) so I explored my options and found something that, along with tactical tweaks, allows me to be competitive. So I completely understand the purpose of this thread because where else would you ask for a broad spectrum feedback if not here.

That being said, and based on the issue you brought up - that your best attacking game is simply not bothering guys who are used to heavy shots fired at them by young players they regularly face - I was just contemplating how big of a difference would gear change make regarding this particular issue. On top of that, you’re not looking to change from heavy midsize frame to Pure Aero...it would basically be a minimal change to what you’re using now and, as such, would be of minimal help against said opponents.

...

Best of luck with your tennis endeavors and I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for...or at least have fun doing so.
 
Last edited:

tennis347

Professional
Earlier you said you use a 7G. Which of their racquets would you recommend I test? I think something around 110 square inches would be what I'd be after. I'm also using around a size 6 grip, so adding at least 30 grams to the handle via heat shrink sleeves is going to be a requirement. Thanks.
Well there really are not many options with 110 square inches. The 7G is only 100 sq inches and has a very headlight balance with swing weight in the low 330’s. Not sure how it would play with all that weight you want to add to the handle. It would a be a real club.

Babolot has 2 Pure Drive frames, one being a 107 and a 110 which has the extended length. These are much lighter and would be a good platform to add weight to the handle if you are looking for a powerful frame. They are a bit on the stiff side with RA’s in the high 60’s.

If you like thin beam racquets, try the Prince Graphite 107 and maybe just a little weight to the handle to make more headlight.

It’s difficult changing racquets when you get use to a specific weight and balance, especially with all the weight you want to add.

One thing I will say about the PK 7G, it absorbs pace well and will help your defense but is not a power racquet like Babolot. It has a 16 x 20 so it’s not a spin machine. On the serve you need generate good racquet head speed to get spin but for a flatter serve it’s good. If you try the 7G, I would only recommend adding a little weight to handle and a few grams to the hoop at 3 and 9 or 10 and 2. Also string towards the lower end of the tension to get more power due to the dense pattern.

Let me know if I assist you further.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Not that much lighter...about 10g. I gave myself 3 months before I’d assess the change. It was a roller coaster ride for the first 2, but now that I’m 4 months in, I know I made the right decision.

My backhand was the hardest part. I really like the heft on my 2 hander, but I’ve adjusted at this point. Only modification I made was replacing the base grip w/ a thicker one, which added about 3g.
Interesting thing for me was that when I went from my Babolat Overdrive 110 to the Wilson SW104, I actually went up in swingweight by five points, from 340-345 to 345-350. I like the heavier swingweight for my one handed backhand but on the Overdrive 110 could never get the forehand to feel like it came through the contact point in the right way. I did at some point about a couple of years ago try to decrease the swingweight, thinking that I could offset the lower mass with increased racquet head speed, but I found that no matter how light I went, I just couldn't swing it any faster. I talked to some peer competitors about it and we kind of agreed that as we got older, we lose suppleness and just can't have the same live arm like we did when we were younger, kind of the same as how Nolan Ryan couldn't throw 100 MPH any more even if he were as physically strong as in his playing days. It's not about the strength, but the contractile velocity, and that has an inevitable and unavoidable decline.

I do a lot of resistance training so moving my racquet around doesn't feel difficult. Actually, it seems that as my balance has gotten more challenging with age, having a heavier racquet sometimes seems to help me use it as a counterbalance to help regain balance faster. But as I said in an earlier post, it may be worth it to try to go lighter to help me better make last moment adjustments and maybe clean up my mis-hitting a bit. Thanks.
 

Injured Again

Professional
How about an extended Angell TC105?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I really, really wanted to test an Angell before I settled on my SW104, but I could not find a demo nearby, and I searched a lot. I've always liked stiff racquets and thought the V3 105 at 74 RA would be perfect, but didn't feel like I could commit to buying three of them without ever having hit with that specific model, or even any Angell. I even asked on this forum if there were any local players who had one I could demo but nothing. I didn't see a demo program from them either.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Hello and thank you for your explanation.

We all hit our ceilings as tennis players (regardless of age) and it’s only logical to look for the edge - physical, tactical and, for sure, technical - so I completely understand.

I was in similar situation two years ago. Having started playing against top amateur level clay court players in my area, I conceded that I’m not good enough to shoot through them with my go-to racquets (thin beamed, small head players frames) so I explored my options and found something that, along with tactical tweaks, allows me to be competitive. So I completely understand the purpose of this thread because where else would you ask for a broad spectrum feedback if not here.

That being said, and based on the issue you brought up - that your best attacking game is simply not bothering guys who are used to heavy shots fired at them by young players they regularly face - I was just contemplating how big of a difference would gear change make regarding this particular issue. On top of that, you’re not looking to change from heavy midsize frame to Pure Aero...it would basically be a minimal change to what you’re using now and, as such, would be of minimal help against said opponents.

...

Best of luck with your tennis endeavors and I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for...or at least have fun doing so.

Thanks!

What I do notice among these highest level competitors is that they are pretty conservative when it comes to attacking. My first encounter with that was not long after I started playing again, and I was competing in our Club tournament and in the finals of our mid-flight (high 4.0 and below) against a gold ball winner who at that time was in his mid-70's (I was in my 40's). What was most striking to me was that when he had the time to set up, he never hit the ball any harder, he just hit it closer to the lines. My instinct then, and unfortunately still now, is that I'm ramping up the velocity more than the accuracy. That fundamental difference was very eye-opening to me but even so I really never thought much more about it recently. Maybe he didn't hit it harder because he really couldn't hit it harder, and that was a transition he made at some point earlier. I'll have to ask him - I never thought to do so until this moment. I still occasionally hit with him and he now has the honor of having one of the three indoor tennis buildings at our Club named for him. At age 85, he still can put 30 balls deep to the baseline without missing, rally after rally. The guy is amazing.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Well there really are not many options with 110 square inches. The 7G is only 100 sq inches and has a very headlight balance with swing weight in the low 330’s. Not sure how it would play with all that weight you want to add to the handle. It would a be a real club.

Babolot has 2 Pure Drive frames, one being a 107 and a 110 which has the extended length. These are much lighter and would be a good platform to add weight to the handle if you are looking for a powerful frame. They are a bit on the stiff side with RA’s in the high 60’s.

If you like thin beam racquets, try the Prince Graphite 107 and maybe just a little weight to the handle to make more headlight.

It’s difficult changing racquets when you get use to a specific weight and balance, especially with all the weight you want to add.

One thing I will say about the PK 7G, it absorbs pace well and will help your defense but is not a power racquet like Babolot. It has a 16 x 20 so it’s not a spin machine. On the serve you need generate good racquet head speed to get spin but for a flatter serve it’s good. If you try the 7G, I would only recommend adding a little weight to handle and a few grams to the hoop at 3 and 9 or 10 and 2. Also string towards the lower end of the tension to get more power due to the dense pattern.

Let me know if I assist you further.
Thanks! I did try the new versions of the Pure Drive 110 that came after my Overdrive 110 and neither had remotely the same impact response. They both almost felt as though they were from entirely different manufacturers, and if either one of them were close, I would have switched to them. I never did try the 107 because it was only 27.2 inches and I need more reach. But that was before I had my first experience with an XTP buttcap, and it was a positive experience so maybe I should go back now and give that racquet a try again.

I don't think I need a racquet that absorbs pace well. These older age group guys don't hit the ball all that hard. I do hit with my son at least once every week and he really can wallop the ball, and I figure that if I can get used to seeing his pace, nothing the age group guys can hit will just simply overpower me.
 

js0930

New User
Have you tried the Prince Warrior 107? Seems right in your wheelhouse, light enough you can extend it and have it remain maneuverable and a bit more arm friendly than a Pure Drive. Worth reading the reviews as well - it’s well-loved.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Have you tried the Prince Warrior 107? Seems right in your wheelhouse, light enough you can extend it and have it remain maneuverable and a bit more arm friendly than a Pure Drive. Worth reading the reviews as well - it’s well-loved.
That sounds like it would be right up my alley with an XTP buttcap! The reviews sound very promising. Thanks for that recommendation - it is a must-do demo. I did play with Prince prior to switching to Babolat.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
Thanks!

What I do notice among these highest level competitors is that they are pretty conservative when it comes to attacking. My first encounter with that was not long after I started playing again, and I was competing in our Club tournament and in the finals of our mid-flight (high 4.0 and below) against a gold ball winner who at that time was in his mid-70's (I was in my 40's). What was most striking to me was that when he had the time to set up, he never hit the ball any harder, he just hit it closer to the lines. My instinct then, and unfortunately still now, is that I'm ramping up the velocity more than the accuracy. That fundamental difference was very eye-opening to me but even so I really never thought much more about it recently. Maybe he didn't hit it harder because he really couldn't hit it harder, and that was a transition he made at some point earlier. I'll have to ask him - I never thought to do so until this moment. I still occasionally hit with him and he now has the honor of having one of the three indoor tennis buildings at our Club named for him. At age 85, he still can put 30 balls deep to the baseline without missing, rally after rally. The guy is amazing.
I picked up tennis in my mid 20’s and my primary reason for that was Roger and his tennis. I can’t say I modeled my game after him yet since he’s the one I’ve watched most often, I do like to play inventive attacking game.

As I’ve mentioned, my first reality check was playing on clay against very good players. I am from Central Europe but started playing on fast, low bouncing carpet and concrete courts and soon found out that my basic algorithms don’t work on clay. Serve is not as big a weapon, flat shots and slices significantly less effective and I have to play two-three put-aways instead of one. Of course, it wasn’t just clay but much higher quality of my opponents, too. I was pushing them and would win a set every once in a while but most of the time, or so I thought, I’d just self destruct trying to go for more...

Truth is that inventive attacking tennis with lots of outright winners is the toughest tactic one could choose. Since most people watch only the very best tennis players, danger is we take this brand of game as “granted”. I attended the first edition of Laver Cup in Prague two years ago and, as you’re saying, was taken aback how “soft” the guys (including Roger and Rafa) were hitting the ball. It’s all legs, hips, trunk and shoulders...incredible precision before scorching power, supported with nearly flawless decision making.

...

Bottom line is: chances of succeeding with all out tennis at lower levels are quite slim and the reason is simple - very few players on this level are good enough to pull it off and ever more so against seasoned, tactically smart warriors. On one hand, it can be a bit dispiriting but on the other, it can be a push to improve both technically and tactically. I still “hate” clay very much but I’ve become a much better player thanks to it.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Bottom line is: chances of succeeding with all out tennis at lower levels are quite slim and the reason is simple - very few players on this level are good enough to pull it off and ever more so against seasoned, tactically smart warriors. On one hand, it can be a bit dispiriting but on the other, it can be a push to improve both technically and tactically. I still “hate” clay very much but I’ve become a much better player thanks to it.
This is very true. It's very intoxicating to hit a shot that I think might not look too bad on TV, but then very depressing to look up and see that after that blazing winner, I'm down 15-40 and 2-5.

I pulled out my Overdrive 110 and played a full 90 minutes with it. How much is a placebo I don't know, but I definitely volleyed and played much better defense with it, much of that from just trusting in the larger sweetspot. It is larger, much more so than the 6% difference in stringbed size. It's got a springy feel when swinging hard that I guess I've lost familiarity with, and there isn't the confidence inspiring solidity. I think after playing with a more massive racquet and knowing what it can feel like, I worry I won't be able to find that feeling in an oversized frame.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
I think after playing with a more massive racquet and knowing what it can feel like, I worry I won't be able to find that feeling in an oversized frame.
I know exactly what you mean and it’s very true but I’m quite sure amateur players can get used to almost anything. If pros can switch frames and be ok with that, we most certainly are, too.

I’ve had the privilege to hit with some proper gems along the way (Fischer Vacuum Pro Mid with gut is my personal favourite) and some were very addictive even if I couldn’t get the best out of them (Angell TC95 63RA 18x20)...

Yet for my aforementioned clay endeavors I’ve customized my first ever tennis racquet Wilson K Rush FX. It’s a thick, tapered, 100 sq inch, 285g unstrung frame with wide-spaced 16x19 string pattern - something completely opposite to what I’ve been using. I kept leading it up (in rather polarized fashion) until it swung right and it’s turned out to be a very decent tool in the end. I do miss solidity and that sweet feeling of a clean winner hit with a midsize frame but, in all honesty, it’s not that bad and I’m more competitive which was the original ambition.

It’s a bit like with guitars and guitar necks. Everybody has a preference but give me two weeks with any guitar and I’ll be confident enough to perform with it.
 

Injured Again

Professional
@joohan Thanks for the words of wisdom! They are very helpful to keep me from sweating all of the small stuff that in the long run won't really matter.

That being said, I just returned with the v7 Blade 104 and the Pure Drive 107 demos. Our local tennis store doesn't carry Prince nor Pro Kennex. The Blade is strung with a too-loose Alu Power and the Pure Drive has some synthetic gut but I should be able to get a good feel for how these play. Hoping to hit later tonight with them against a ball machine.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
@joohan Thanks for the words of wisdom! They are very helpful to keep me from sweating all of the small stuff that in the long run won't really matter.

That being said, I just returned with the v7 Blade 104 and the Pure Drive 107 demos. Our local tennis store doesn't carry Prince nor Pro Kennex. The Blade is strung with a too-loose Alu Power and the Pure Drive has some synthetic gut but I should be able to get a good feel for how these play. Hoping to hit later tonight with them against a ball machine.
A long shot because there’s no demo option but if you’d feel like trying something rather special, I highly recommend trying Angell racquets. I played with TC100 63RA (RA is unstrung) for quite a while and it’s a killer frame. Angell has a 105 option, too, and it might be worth checking out in case you find in in for sale section. Solidity and performance of these mid-plus/oversized frames is hard to beat. Might be the best of both worlds.
 

tennis347

Professional
A long shot because there’s no demo option but if you’d feel like trying something rather special, I highly recommend trying Angell racquets. I played with TC100 63RA (RA is unstrung) for quite a while and it’s a killer frame. Angell has a 105 option, too, and it might be worth checking out in case you find in in for sale section. Solidity and performance of these mid-plus/oversized frames is hard to beat. Might be the best of both worlds.
I heard really great feedback about Angell frames but never tried one.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
I heard really great feedback about Angell frames but never tried one.
Well, it’s all in the designated thread (and several more). I’ve played with four different Angell models so far and (playability aside) quality of product is outstanding. Paul Angell is a great guy on top of that, knows his trade indeed. A bespoke like customer experience for standard retail value. Lack of demo is a tricky part, that’s where classifieds might come in handy.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I really liked the specs of the V3 105, but I just didn't feel like I could commit to buying three frames without ever hitting with any Angell, much less that specific Angell which is going to be pretty rare as it's not the type of frame that would appeal to a lot of people.

I don't know why this is so, but for some reason I have a preconceived notion that the Angells hit pretty similarly to the v7 Blades. Is that true?

I'm still looking for a demo and if there is anyone in Washington State who has one, anywhere (I'm willing to drive!), let me know.
 

Injured Again

Professional
I demo'ed the Pure Drive 107 and the v7 Blade 104 yesterday, along with a modded Pure Drive VS and a Pure Drive 110 that I had bought last year and had intended to use as the replacement for the Babolat Overdrive 110.

Long story short - the Pure Drive 110 is how I'm going to go. It is so much more forgiving. I feel like I can literally just stick the racquet out there and a ball will rebound with enough depth to keep me in the point. The stuff I found objectionable when I tested it last year, mostly lingering frame vibration, are not issues now as I've gotten used to that same thing in the SW104. So I'm going to go pretty radical and try to do several things at once. First, despite our USTA league season starting up soon and that I'm captain of our 55+ 9.0 team that has definite post-season potential, I'm going to switch full time to the PD 110. I'm also going to target our Club tournament in a month playing singles. In the meantime, I'm going to work on cutting down how offensively I try to swing when I'm not fully set and have more than adequate time to swing at the ball. I'm going to take some lessons to see if there are technique, footwork, or movement flaws that are hindering my defense when I'm on the move. I'm going to con and swindle all of my age group peer tournament players to talk to me about how to make better shot decisions on court. And I'm going to try to take about 10 grams off the racquet to help maneuverability.

In a lot of ways, it feels exciting to be going down the path of trying to chase improvement. On the flip side, it feels a bit depressing to know that I'm having to give up hopes of ever getting better through physical ability. It's been probably five or six years that I first heard that my playing style wasn't feasible for the long term due to my age and I've been able to hold it off until now, but I guess I have to concede defeat to father time.
 

Injured Again

Professional
Playsight is already up!
Interesting! I went there in late June or early July and asked the front desk staff about it, and no one knew about it other than that it was supposed to be implemented some time later. I'd love to go there and get some actual metrics. I'll give them a shout tomorrow and see if I can get on the Playsight court.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
I don't know why this is so, but for some reason I have a preconceived notion that the Angells hit pretty similarly to the v7 Blades. Is that true?
Not really. There are two basic types of beams used in(on?) Angell frames. TC97 and most probably K7 (and the rest I know only from Angell thread) have sort of more classic, boxish beam and the rest of the original line (TC90, TC95, TC100 and TC105) has a custom “D” profile beam that plays nothing like any Blade I’ve ever hit (older ones but I doubt new one is that much different or anywhere near what Angell D beam plays like). It’s much more dynamic and a term most used to describe it would be “uniform flex”. It’s really unlike most of the stuff out there and works really well to provide solidity even in low static weight/large head specs. TC100 63RA is maybe the best match play frame I’ve ever used.
 
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