The rise and fall of racquet companies.

Zoolander

Hall of Fame
15. Stellar
First graphite racquet I had (still have) was a Stellar. Seems they were around for a good while but theres zero info on the internet.

It was before most of you guys' time, but I'm sure some of the older farts here had a Bard racket at some point. I did. A Jade Fire.
Just bought a few Bards off fleabay. The white ceramic one and a couple of burgundy brown boron/graphite ones. Nice stiffer feel but without the vibes. Got a fox bosworth wb310 as well. Love buying 80's & 90's racquets to try out and hit with. They actually had real materials like kevlar/ceramic/boron/fibreglass. Nowadays we just get stiff graphite with imaginary graphene etc.
 

Simon_the_furry

Hall of Fame
The Mizuno's we're great frames. Never played with a Bridgestone, were they good frames.
Bridgestone is Japanese market only.
I would like to hit with one of their heavier (at least, heavy for the Japanese market) frames, they seem like exceptionally high quality and they frequently have very nice paint....

Above is the X-Blade 305. 16x19 string pattern, 305 grams unstrung, balance point of 315 mm (9 points headlight, which means it probably has a swingweight of about 310-315). It appears to be composed of woven carbon fiber and fiberglass.

It looks like an excellent customization platform. If I had this stick, I'd add four 4-inch strips of tungsten tape at 3 and 9 and two 4-inch strips at 12. That would probably bump it up to a swingweight of about 335 and give it some really nice plow.
 

PBODY99

Legend
@Crocodile
The Bridgestone frame I tried did not standout compared to the other frames in its price range during the daawn of the graphite era.
Kawasaki's Ruler & Rulerflexwere thin and a joy to hit with.
Comments are about standard size frames.
 

BorgCash

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.
Can add Bosworth's Fox and of course Adidas. Also Wimbledon (made by Kunnan?), Le Coq Sportif and Lacoste of France.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
Also, Bancroft, Donnay, Durbin and PDP. Bancroft & Donnay fell victim to Borg's retirement and the transition to graphite. Durbin was a niche graphite racket that enjoyed some success in the mid 80s with a cool design. PDP had some good frames, the Open was copied by Head and Adidas to better sales. They also made the Fibrestaff and Fibregraph which were cool frames. I owned (and have two now) Fibrestaffs.
 
I've had a Durbin once too. Throat piece way down the shaft. Looked like an oversized squash racket. Mine was aluminum. They had a graphite model too. PDP Open--my favorite metal racket. Bancroft's were innovative wood rackets. Unfortunately, they were being innovative just before graphite was being introduced. A few others: Lobster, WonderWand, MatchMate. I've strung WonderWands and MatchMates. The WonderWand was superoversized, had a 20 x 22 string pattern as I recall.
 

R15

New User
Did the legal action cause Yamaha's demise ?
I was looking for a stringing pattern for an old Yamaha recently and wondered why they stopped making tennis rackets...the (unconfirmed) info I found suggested that as a result of the legal action Yamaha 'decided not to bother with tennis rackets'.
 

PBODY99

Legend
@R15 ; @Crocodile
Yamaha withdrew from the American market rather than defend vs Wilson's patent claim on
the EOS model, which infringed by being under 10 oz and a head heavy balance.
Note the specs inside the throat
 

ae1222

Semi-Pro
I used a Lobster citation racquet back in the day for a couple of years (probably late 80's early 90's). Would love to get one for my collection...
 
D

Deleted member 742196

Guest
I’ve been tennising a LOT recently - more than my usual amount - have been toying around with one of these newfangled feather weight power pufft frames - Pro Staff LS etc.

Undoubtedly, if you want to swing for the fences and sweep for topspin, without much effort or footwork, they’re awesome.

Forget feel on your side of the contact point.

But if you already are used to feel and touch in your contact point, the modern frames aren’t very useful.

My guess is it’s probably modern technique more than anything. Most players today are not going to like classics or old school feel based frames. I gave someone my Angel today - he couldn’t understand why I like the thing.
 

LaZeR

Professional
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.
I THINK it transcends across almost ALL industries that three major brands rise to the top, and capture & command majority market share. This also applies to appliances, banks, IT, entertainment networks, fast food, etc. Smaller companies simply do not have the advertising & marketing budgets to compete this way despite producing excellent products.
These 3/4 brands have a big presence on tour and have other products in their line up to sell.
By "big presence on tour" do you mean "huge marketing budgets"? Hardly any endorsed tennis players use actual retail products. Almost all racquets you see pros playing are custom made, unavailable to the general public, and covered with retail paint jobs.
 

Crocodile

Legend
I THINK it transcends across almost ALL industries that three major brands rise to the top, and capture & command majority market share. This also applies to appliances, banks, IT, entertainment networks, fast food, etc. Smaller companies simply do not have the advertising & marketing budgets to compete this way despite producing excellent products. By "big presence on tour" do you mean "huge marketing budgets"? Hardly any endorsed tennis players use actual retail products. Almost all racquets you see pros playing are custom made, unavailable to the general public, and covered with retail paint jobs.
Yes this is how it works.
 

Racketdesign

Semi-Pro
from my understanding, the patent was owned by Jack Frolow and Wilson bought the patent when they realised it could restrict other brands. The patent was about 2000 pages long and hideous to circumnavigate!
 

808

Semi-Pro
Kübler. I remember back in the 80ies these frames, like the Kübler Resonanz, used to be the hot ticket around here for a while, at least among the older crowd.

My coach at that time thought they were too powerful for me and recommended I use a rex professional Turbo 95 (which of course he happened to sell). I still have it:



 

TheCanadian

Semi-Pro
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.
I absolutely loved Kneissl, loved it! All the kids were playing with it in the 80’s. It was the Babolat of the time. I stopped playing in the later 80’s...when I came back in 2010 I was shocked to see it’s disappearance. No idea what happened to it.
 

LaZeR

Professional
WILSON HAMMER TECHNOLOGY PATENT IS ENFORCED: PRO-KENNEX TO PULL FOUR MODELS THAT COPY WILSON'S PATENTED RACQUET TECHNOLOGY / CHICAGO, Aug. 5 / PRNewswire/

Wilson Sporting Goods today announced it has posted a legal victory in its fight to enforce its patents on tennis racquet technology. Pro-Kennex, which markets racquets that copy Wilson's patented Hammer racquet technology, has agreed to stop selling four racquet models. In accordance with a preliminary injunction entered today, Pro-Kennex will stop selling these racquets because they infringe Wilson's patents for Hammer racquet weight and balance.

"Wilson is committed to developing, marketing and protecting breakthrough racquet technology," said Jim Baugh, Wilson Racquet Sports vice president and general manager. "This is a big step. It is testament to the performance features and benefits of the patent, and it shows that we're not going to tolerate Hammer copycats on the market."

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division has ordered that effective Sept. 30, 1992, Pro-Kennex is "enjoined from selling" four models -- Pro-Kennex Infinity 265, Pro-Kennex Innovator 265, Pro-Kennex Destiny 265, and Pro-Kennex Presence 265.

Hammer technology was first introduced by Wilson in December 1990 with the Profile 2.7 Hammer. Since then, that racquet has been the best-selling racquet in pro and specialty shops nationwide. In November 1991, Wilson introduced the second racquet in the Hammer series, the Pro Staff 4.0 Hammer, which is also a top seller.

In all, Wilson has three Hammer technology patents concerning: 1) racquet stiffness; 2) dual taper beam cross section; and 3) weight and balance. Hammer series racquets have weight taken out of the handle while maintaining the mass in the racquet head -- like a hammer. This extends the center of percussion -- the heart of the sweet spot -- into the upper part of the racquet face where most balls are hit. Hammer racquets have the highest and largest sweet spots of any racquets.

"We're actually not surprised that Hammer technology is being copied," said Baugh. "Hammer technology means the largest sweet spot, and players want that. On the court, a larger sweet spot means being able to hit the ball better and get it over the net more often." Baugh said, "This should be viewed as a warning to other racquet companies. There are others infringing the Hammer patent, and we're going after them too."

In addition to racquet sports, Chicago-based Wilson is a market leader in team sports equipment and golf.

-0- 8/5/92 /CONTACT: Ruth Hamill of Wilson Racquet Sports, 312-714-6703/ CO: Wilson Sporting Goods; Pro-Kennex ST: Illinois IN: LEI SU: GK -- NY067 -- 7187 08/05/92 14:52 EDT
 
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PBODY99

Legend
@LaZeR
Thank you for the research.
Played the Ceramic Destiny during this period, and picked up a Destiny 265, when they were released. Sold it to a club member when they went away. She still uses it today.
 

Hmgraphite1

Hall of Fame
You'd think they'd (wilson) be able to paint those things better, but probably would infringe on the paint that sticks patent.
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
I was looking for a stringing pattern for an old Yamaha recently and wondered why they stopped making tennis rackets...the (unconfirmed) info I found suggested that as a result of the legal action Yamaha 'decided not to bother with tennis rackets'.
I grew up playing with the Yamaha YFG-20 in the late 70's which I think was unique for it's time. It was a fiberglass midsize racquet in the age where everyone was either playing with small wood/metal racquets or those gigantic Prince racquets. I really liked the racquet and how it played. It is too bad they stopped making racquets.
 
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