The rise and fall of racquet companies.

Crocodile

Legend
Over the years we have had quite a few changes in market landscape of tennis racquet companies. If I think back as far as the 80's the only 3 brands that are still dominant in tennis is Head, Wilson and Yonex . Babolat only came on the scene with racquets in the mid 90's and now obviously part of the big 3 with Yonex positioned 4th and rising. These 3/4 brands have a big presence on tour and have other products in their line up to sell.
Now for those with a better memory can you shed light on why the following brands which were major players in the past are now either struggling financially or very minor players or even non existent:
1. Dunlop Slazenger
2. Prince
3. Snauwert
4. Rossignol
5. Spalding
6. Puma
7. Pro Kennex
8. Emrik - Australia only ?
9. Kneissl
10. Donnay
11. Bancroft
12. Oliver
13. Fin
14. Yamaha
15. Stellar

The other brands I haven't mentioned here are brands such as Pacific, Volkl, Mizuno, and Tecnifibre and Gamma. Pacific which bought Fischer had decent presence in the past in the 80's and 90's but currently very quiet. Volkl have always been sought of a product of mystique with a lower tour presence these days since Dent, Korda, Hanika, Stoser etc, and Tecnifibre trying to rise in the sales numbers
I'd be interested in reading posts about particular brands and any others that I have left out as to what you know about their situation.
 
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esgee48

G.O.A.T.
Pro Kennex is not a presence in Tennis now. But they were when they brought out their Destiny and Presence frames. They are now concentrating on the 'other' racquet sports in Asia. As part of a conglomerate, they are not struggling.
 
When graphite rackets 1st came out, Kennex (now Pro Kennex) manufactured around 75% of all the graphite rackets made. Their decision not to get big name endorsers was probably a big mistake in hindsight. They made rackets for Wilson and Prince and allowed them to invest in high-dollar pros.
 
Most players know so little about the racquets they use that a majority just go go with whatever they have seen on TV. An uneducated consumer base (less true of TW posters) is more subject to marketing rather than quality and innovation concerns. Most companies have lost their idenity as well as their connection to their client base... what Head has done with the prestige line is terrible. At least Babolat and Wilson actually worked with major tour players to develop sticks. Angell has created a boutique brand by focusing on educated player needs.
 

vsbabolat

G.O.A.T.
The thing about the 80's were there were all this smaller companies, many trying new things. Bard, Chris, Kniessel, Rossignol, Fischer... so many
I agree. Just the OP said that Yonex was one of the big 3 and Yonex didn’t have that big of a share in the 80’s. You had Wilson, Prince, and HEAD dominating the market place. Prince has been replaced by Babolat now. Prince is a shadow of what they were in the 80’s
 
I agree. Just the OP said that Yonex was one of the big 3 and Yonex didn’t have that big of a share in the 80’s. You had Wilson, Prince, and HEAD dominating the market place. Prince has been replaced by Babolat now. Prince is a shadow of what they were in the 80’s
true, I used to hate playing prince players with pony tails in the 80's... I became one though about 9 years ago as I was mounting my comeback... didnt last long... went to the Prestige mp soon after.

Was talking with my hitting partner today how we havent tried a yonex in decades.
 

Guy Jones

Rookie
I started off with Prince in about 93/94 with the graphite II, loads of the best players at my club was using it so I got one and it was a great racquet that I remember fondly, however, the longbody Micheal Chang graphite really altered my opinion. I should never have got it, but the fact Chang used it and the paint job convinced my 13yr old self it was the right choice. Seems like a lot of players fell out of love with the brand at the same time, Chang included. I have since used mainly Head, the original dark red prestige frame, then more recently radicals, the Ti and liquidmetal. I seem to have settled with dunlops though, don't think I'll ever change my mfil 200s out of choice, it' only poor marketing that the Dunlop aren't a popular choice, nothing to do with the quality of the racquet. Too early to tell if srixon will change that, but I hope so, mainly so they bring out the 200 mfil as a throwback for me to get some more.
 
I started off with Prince in about 93/94 with the graphite II, loads of the best players at my club was using it so I got one and it was a great racquet that I remember fondly, however, the longbody Micheal Chang graphite really altered my opinion. I should never have got it, but the fact Chang used it and the paint job convinced my 13yr old self it was the right choice. Seems like a lot of players fell out of love with the brand at the same time, Chang included. I have since used mainly Head, the original dark red prestige frame, then more recently radicals, the Ti and liquidmetal. I seem to have settled with dunlops though, don't think I'll ever change my mfil 200s out of choice, it' only poor marketing that the Dunlop aren't a popular choice, nothing to do with the quality of the racquet. Too early to tell if srixon will change that, but I hope so, mainly so they bring out the 200 mfil as a throwback for me to get some more.
It isnt just marketing its the loss of connection to players in favor of marketing. Making frames that dont fit your user base and abandoning them was terrible. Chasing Babolat is a baaaad idea, simply make great frames and educate people on their greatness... I suppose Dunlop is doing that with the James Blake ads now.

The other huge problem is the pros are mostly using PJ's.
 

vsbabolat

G.O.A.T.
It isnt just marketing its the loss of connection to players in favor of marketing. Making frames that dont fit your user base and abandoning them was terrible. Chasing Babolat is a baaaad idea, simply make great frames and educate people on their greatness... I suppose Dunlop is doing that with the James Blake ads now.

The other huge problem is the pros are mostly using PJ's.
In the 80’s you didn’t have that 2 year cycle with marketing BS. They were trying real tech and designs. Racquets were discontinued when sales went down. You had racquets that were top of the line for years.
 
In the 80’s you didn’t have that 2 year cycle with marketing BS. They were trying real tech and designs. Racquets were discontinued when sales went down. You had racquets that were top of the line for years.
Great point... I hit with my Max 200G and Prostaff 85 today those were available for a decade.

Why not try out new things but keep the ones that players gravitate towards?
 

Guy Jones

Rookie
It isnt just marketing its the loss of connection to players in favor of marketing. Making frames that dont fit your user base and abandoning them was terrible. Chasing Babolat is a baaaad idea, simply make great frames and educate people on their greatness... I suppose Dunlop is doing that with the James Blake ads now.

The other huge problem is the pros are mostly using PJ's.
I think more recently marketing has been more effective at targeting purchase decisions by the young players coming into the sport, it's happened for a while, but a few decades or less ago the players choice was more influenced by their coach, club players and more local methods. Just my opinion of course, but I have noticed lots of choices based on the back of what Nadal is using in particular. I guess it is only natural for the business decision within some companies to emulate the market leaders or fast gainers, not the best strategy in tennis though with a company with an already established USP.
 

Crocodile

Legend
Probably need to do a research post on each brand, however firstly would like to now more about Prince. They were huge in the late 80's and early 90's. Did the port technology cause them some financial grief or what other factors were involved?
Secondly, Pro Kennex, most popular racquet in Australia in the late 80's, were well priced and brought graphite to many Australians along with Emrik. I know something happened to Kunnan, but after that things changed.
 

mhkeuns

Hall of Fame
The 80’s rackets were awesome. Though the big 3 dominated the scene, Yonex, Pro Kennex and Dunlop had a following. But there were smaller companies that produced just as nice rackets as the big companies. One of them was Estusa. They made some of the nicest looking thin frames. I still have a Boron/Graphite Composite racket from 1986. Such a nice frame. I’ve heard Becker and Tiriac had something to do with their demise.

There was also a company called Avant Garde that made one of the earliest light weight Graphite rackets. The Graphite Gold was my favorite racket from that company. The Northridge, CA based company called “MatchMate” that produced elongated 28” rackets was one of the most powerful frames that I’ve used as a high school player.

I’m not sure they still exist, but Hanil of South Korea made some nice thin beamed rackets in the 80’s as well.

Such good memories.
 
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movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I wondered what happened to TAD Davis. They made beautiful racquets.

Garcia? They made a nice Jack Kramer Auto knockoff.

With Dunlop, I just recall a lot of Pros moving from Dunlop to Head which seemed to coincide with them falling. It appears that marketing in tennis really works. Marketing really works well for Nike as they pay huge amounts of money for their sponsored players in chose sports.
 

Zlatni

Rookie
The 80’s were awesome. Though the big 3 dominated the scene, Yonex, Pro Kennex and Dunlop had a following. But there were smaller companies that produced just as nice rackets as the big companies. One of them was Estusa. They made some of the nicest looking thin frames. I still have a Boron/Graphite Composite racket from 1986. Such a nice frame. I’ve heard Becker and Tiriac had something to do with their demise.

There was also a company called Avant Garde that made one of the earliest light weight Graphite rackets. The Graphite Gold was my favorite racket from that company. The Northridge, CA based company called “MatchMate” that produced elongated 28” rackets was one of the most powerful frames that I’ve used as a high school player.

I’m not sure they still exist, but Hanil of South Korea made some nice thin beamed rackets in the 80’s as well.

Such good memories.
I have couple of Avant Garde Golds. Very light. Shorter than standard length (about 26.7), and 16x17 string pattern.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Zlatni

Rookie
I believe that Donnay was at one time in the 80s the largest racquet company in the world.
I played with WST Cobalt OS in the early 90s. Great stick and I still have 2 or 3 around.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

vsbabolat

G.O.A.T.
I wondered what happened to TAD Davis. They made beautiful racquets.

Garcia? They made a nice Jack Kramer Auto knockoff.

With Dunlop, I just recall a lot of Pros moving from Dunlop to Head which seemed to coincide with them falling. It appears that marketing in tennis really works. Marketing really works well for Nike as they pay huge amounts of money for their sponsored players in chose sports.
Garcia got bought by Rossignol. Thats how Rossignol had all those racquets made in the USA.
 

vsbabolat

G.O.A.T.
I believe that Donnay was at one time in the 80s the largest racquet company in the world.
I played with WST Cobalt OS in the early 90s. Great stick and I still have 2 or 3 around.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
70's and early 80's. Steep drop off when the move to graphite came. Donnay did not see it coming.
 

DJ-

Hall of Fame
Interesting design with the shorter center mains, seems like a good control racquet
Yeah 8 mains in the throat and 16x19. Love it. Might explain why I love the ai98 dr98 ad well. That has the isometric shape and rossis had the inverted bridge. I had no issues with sweet spot size. It was more head heavy so plow was there very wide at 3 / 9oclock. Probably about 90sqin to 93sq in
 

PBODY99

Legend
@Simon_the_furry
Power Angle is still around. The frame with its unique pattern is not that hard to string, but it is different.
The stringing instructions walk you through it, you just need to take you time. I found extra floating clamps plus my machine clamps made it easier to string.
 

Crocodile

Legend
Has anyone here own an LT12 Lacoste wood/grsphite racquet. They were about $800 to buy. I wonder if the exucution of this frame is similar to the PK Core's and also on a different note what we might expect from Lacoste with their partnership now with Tecnifibre?
 

Crocodile

Legend
@Simon_the_furry
Power Angle is still around. The frame with its unique pattern is not that hard to string, but it is different.
The stringing instructions walk you through it, you just need to take you time. I found extra floating clamps plus my machine clamps made it easier to string.
I had the Ace of Diamonds. My thoughts were that I liked the string pattern but the frame feel could have been better. Power angle are very quiet this year.
 
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