An Expert Guide to Choosing the Best Tennis Racquet

Published on 05/26/2023 · 7 min readLooking for the perfect tennis racquet to hit the court with this year? We've got you covered! Tennis Expert Nicolas Carrero details how to choose the best racquet.
Nicolas Carrero, Tennis Expert
By Tennis Expert Nicolas Carrero

Photo by Chino Rocha

The Best Tennis Racquets

When buying a new tennis racquet, it is important to check certain boxes: your experience level, your game style, if you have any physical ailments, and if you have a budget. There are so many tennis racquet options right now that narrowing down the choices and picking one may be overwhelming. There are other factors you need to sort out before choosing your racquet—like what grip size to pick, the swingweight you're comfortable with, etc. But the racquet itself is the most important one!

I’ve played with a handful of different racquets, and recently I’ve been testing out a lot of them. A different racquet can open up a brand-new part of your game that you didn’t even know you had.

What Are Tennis Racquets?

Dampener/open string pattern: Wilson Clash 100 2019. Photo by Nicolas Carrero

To play tennis you need to hit the tennis ball over the net, that’s where a tennis racket comes in! In the early days of tennis, around the 16th century, tennis was played using only your hands. A few decades later, tennis racquets, with larger oval heads and long handles, resembled what we see in badminton and squash courts worldwide. Then, in the late 18th century, the first lawn tennis racquet was manufactured in London. It was the first racquet made of solid wood and wrapped with a leather grip with natural gut strings.

During the middle part of the next century, racquets began being made from more flexible laminated wood. Laminated wood also led to customization like paint and decals added to the racquets. Big brands like Dunlop and Wilson took advantage and used customization to distinguish their brands from other competitors. Wooden racquets were made until the mid-1980s.

In 1988, Dunloped developed the first graphite-made tennis racquet: the Max200G. Steffi Graf used this racquet to win the golden grand slam (all four big tournaments and an Olympic title in the same year). Graphite has remained the main material used to make racquets today.

Customization is now bigger than ever. With new tennis racquet string options popping up everywhere you look, and the options of mixing and matching different string types, also with the lead tape used to add or take off weight from your racquet for more or less power, there is more you can tinker with your tennis racquet than ever before!

What To Consider When Buying A New Racquet

Your Experience and Budget

If you are brand new to the game, it’s probably not recommended that you jump into the sport using an elite new tennis racket. Luckily, there are many beginner-friendly tennis racquets out there. When you are just a kid picking up the sport for the first time, there are “junior racquets.” These racquets are for children and early teens up to 12 and usually don’t break the bank. They range in number sizes to work best with certain ages. The higher the number, the older the kid should be. These are great for getting started at a young age with a child-friendly racquet. Once you get past age 12, you are ready for the standard 27 inch size most adults use!

But that doesn’t mean that, as an adult, you have to splurge to keep playing. Many new or returning players like to start with a beginner-friendly racquet. There are a lot of pre-strung tennis racquets. Usually, they are budget friendly—under the $150 range and as low as $20. These racquets are usually lighter and come pre-strung with the recommended tension for players to have the most control and power.

Most beginner rackets come with a large racquet frame size (102 inches or above), or racket head, for a larger sweet spot to hit with. The larger head sizes make for a more forgiving experience for new players who don’t want to be mishitting too much. These are great racquets to grow your game and see what you need to improve on whenever you are ready to upgrade to a more elite racquet.

The elite racquets for advanced or intermediate players can range from $160-300, depending on the year the racquet was made, with newer racquets costing more. You can choose what you want once you get to the elite racquets.

Your Game Style and Any Ailments

There are so many options when shopping within the elite/advanced category! There are power-oriented racquets, spin-oriented racquets, control-oriented racquets, light racquets, and heavy racquets. It all just depends on what you are looking for! Are you a serve-and-volley type, or do you like camping out on the baseline? Open string pattern for more spin and power or dense for more control? Need to improve your serve and net play or groundstrokes?

Many tennis players also suffer from arm injuries, whether it be tennis elbow, wrist pain, or shoulder pain. Some racquets are made specifically to help ease some of these injuries and help with stability and comfort. The strings and string patterns that come with your racquet are also important to determine the racquet's feel upon hitting. Dampeners can also help lessen the vibration your arm receives when hitting the ball.

The more advanced racquets usually come at a smaller head size than beginner-oriented racquets. Right now, the most common head sizes are between 97 and 100 inches, with the latter being the most common. Roger Federer used a 95 inch early in his career and a 97 inch late. In theory, the smaller the head size, the more control you get. A 100 is the most common because it allows you to swing freely through any shot with accuracy and power.

Recommendations for Each Game Style and Budget

Wilson Clash 100 and Pure Aero Rafa 2022. Photo by Nicolas Carrero

Best Power Tennis Racquets (Intermediate-Advanced Players)

  • Babolat Pure Drive: A great power racquet with excellent spin. Most popular power racquet in the world right now. For aggressive players looking for power on their strokes!
  • Yonex Ezone 98+: Very powerful. Heavier racquet than most for added stability when returning serves and at the net. Heavier rackets usually for mostly advanced players
  • Wilson Ultra v4: Lightweight power racquet with great maneuverability. Good for all types of players!

Best Control Tennis Racquets (Intermediate-Advanced)

  • Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13: Light version of Roger Federer’s final racquet. Great control. Good for serving. Small head size. For players looking for light control.
  • Wilson Blade 98 18x20 v8: Elite control. Great for players who like to use spin and slice.
  • Wilson Clash 100 v2: Good controllable power. Light and flexible. One of the best racquets for tennis elbow and players who are experiencing arm pain.

Best Spin Tennis Racquets (Intermediate-Advanced)

  • Babolat Pure Aero: Smooth feel. Great spin and controllable power. Versatile racket for all players.
  • Yonex Vcore 98: Great combination of power and spin. Light racket for aggressive players.
  • Babolat Pure Strike 16x19: Stability and versatility. Good controllable power and spin. All around racket for all around players.

Best Beginner Tennis Racquets (Beginner-Intermediate)

  • Babolat Boost Aero Rafa: Comes pre-strung. Value version of Rafa Nadal’s 2022 racquet. Nice versatility!
  • Head TI S6: Comes pre-strung. Large head size for a larger sweet spot to hit with. Very popular beginners racquet
  • Babolat Pure Aero Team: Beginner-friendly intermediate racquet that is great to grow with. Light with nice versatility. Good spin and control.

Volkl rackets! Photo by Nicolas Carrero

Best Arm-Friendly Tennis Racquets (Intermediate-Advanced):

Best Junior Tennis Racquets (Beginner/Kids)

  • Babolat Pure Aero Junior 25: Great for kids 10-12 who are almost ready for adult sized rackets.
  • Wilson Clash 25 Junior: Good control for players 10-12.
  • Dunlop CX200 24 Junior: For ages 8-12. Light and versatile

Closing Thoughts

There are so many tennis racquet options out there that the best way to find the perfect one for you is to try them out for yourself! You can read all the reviews, but you'll never know until you get a feel for a racquet. You can demo racquets locally or through online stores.

There are many options, questions, and decisions to make regarding the best tennis racquet for you. Here at Curated, we still have great options at a great price for you. Our Tennis Experts will help you with feedback and hook you up with the sweetest gear!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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