An Expert Guide to Beginners' Tennis RacquetsPublished on 07/30/2021 · 6 min readTennis expert Jared Worth overviews the three types of tennis racquets and gives his beginner recommendations for each to make sure everyone starts off strong!
Photo by Lucas Davies
For new tennis players, choosing a racquet can be a daunting prospect. Between all the different brands available and the various specs like head size, racquet length, and stiffness, picking a racquet can seem like a foreign language to a new player. This article aims to serve as a helping hand for anyone asking themselves, “What’s the best tennis racquet for me?” and provide quality racquet choices that fit a variety of playstyles, all aimed towards the beginner tennis player.
First, it helps to know the three categories that a tennis racquet can fall into and how that affects your play. Those are power racquets, “tweener” racquets, and control racquets.
Power racquets, like the name suggests, are all about generating tons of power and driving the ball deep towards the baseline, forcing your opponent into a more defensive position.
As far as specs go, power racquets typically have:
- Large head sizes: oversize (101-111in²) or super-oversize (+111in²) heads
- Stiff frame
- Head-heavy balance: more of the weight is focused in the head of the racquet, improving stability and drive-through
- Lightweight frame: under 10oz when strung
For a beginner, power racquets are the most heavily recommended since they allow you to focus on learning mechanics rather than trying to generate power, but there are plenty of beginner-friendly tweener and control racquets out there.
Control racquets emphasize ball placement and give players the ability to move their opponent around the court with precise shots. These are typically less recommended for a brand new player as they require the user to generate most of their own power, but for someone who already has some experience, or just hits the ball hard to begin with, a control racquet can be an excellent fit.
For specs, control racquets often have:
- Smaller head size: 95-100in²
- More flexible frame
- Head-light balance: more weight is housed towards the handle of the racquet
- Heavier frame: +10.5oz
Control racquets are best for players with long, fast swings since those allow for more precise ball placement and a faster swing generates more power to counteract the low-powered frame.
Tweener racquets have a much wider range of possible specs and playstyles, as they aim to blend different aspects of power and control frames to give a more well-rounded performance.
There’s no set of rules here like there is with a power or control frame, making this the hardest category to search through for newer players. That being said, the mix of power and control specs do provide a beginner-friendly experience and is often the best idea for someone who isn’t sure what kind of playstyle fits them best. On top of that, there are simply more tweener racquets out there than control or power because of the variety of specs possible, so it’s easier to find just the right fit.
With each of the racquet types out of the way, here are my personal recommendations for the top beginner racquet in each of those categories.
(Note: each of the racquets come pre-strung, which is something I recommend for any new player since choosing strings adds another level of complexity that isn’t necessary at the beginner level.)
Control Racquet: Yonex VCore Ace 98 (Strung)
Yonex really put something special together with the VCore Ace 98. Coming in at just 9.6oz strung with a head-light balance, this racquet has abundant maneuverability, perfect for a beginner player. While it does only have a 98in² head–typically smaller than ideal for a beginner –Yonex racquets use a unique isometric head shape, flattening out the top of the head to give the racquet a larger sweet spot. Ultimately, this makes the racquet feel like it has a larger head size than it does, and makes it more viable as a beginner’s racquet. The smaller head size serves another function, allowing for increased spin and precision on groundstrokes, especially long “loopy” swings. This does mean that players need to generate more of their own power, as the smaller head size leads to less pop when hitting the ball. Overall, the VCore Ace 98 is an excellent racquet for the beginner player looking to develop strong mechanics and a spin-heavy shot repertoire.
Tweener Racquet: Babolat Strike Evo 102 (Strung)
The Babolat Strike Evo is an aggressive player’s dream racquet. It’s a fast-swinging, explosive racquet that doesn’t sacrifice comfort to achieve its power, thanks to Babolat’s unique Evo Feel technology. With a 102in² frame, 10.4oz weight, and head-light balance, the Strike Evo blends stability and speed together to create an effective racquet at all facets of the game. Whether moving around the court, attacking up at the net, or focusing more on baseline play, the Strike Evo won’t disappoint. The soft feel and stability not only contribute to the high-speed playstyle the racquet provides but also help prevent arm/elbow pain players might experience, especially those who may have already dealt with arm or elbow injuries.
Power Racquet: Head Ti. S6 XL 115 (Strung)
At just under $90, the Head Ti. S6 XL is one of the most budget-friendly options available. Not only that, but it also boasts an extremely generous 115in² head size at only 8.6oz strung, making it the ideal baseline power racquet for new players. Having such a powerful and lightweight frame will help players who don’t necessarily generate much power on their own, allowing more focus to be placed on mechanics and shot selection. The frame is made of titanium, helping absorb more impact than a typical graphite frame. The head-heavy balance also helps absorb impact and drive through the ball on groundstrokes, making it excellent for someone first learning. It’s also a longer than average racquet at 27.75in (rather than the more common 27in), giving it more potential for powerful serves. Between the comfort, size, and weight of the frame, this is an ideal choice for softer-hitting players who still want access to plenty of power in a solid, well-rounded racquet.
Ultimately, regardless of the research you do, the best (and really the only way) to know for sure how you'll like a racquet is to get out on the court and try one out. Not every racquet will work for every player, and two players with similar play styles can, and often will, disagree or have their own preferences on what racquet they use. That being said, if you're finding yourself at a loss when trying to decide on a new racquet, the Tennis experts on Curated are a spectacular way to get advice specific to your needs and find that perfect racquet.