An Expert Guide to the Best Tennis Racquet Brands
In the market for a new tennis racquet but not sure what brand to go with? Check out these expert-recommended brands that will have you swinging on the court like a pro!
The question, ‘What is the best tennis-racquet brand out there?’ seems to be a loaded one. What makes a tennis racquet “the best”? Is it measured by how many professional players use that racquet? Is it measured by popularity, or how many racquets are sold each year from each company?
This question is subjective to each individual player. It also depends on if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player. One player may use a Wilson Blade while someone else swears by the Head Graphene racquet.
My twin brother and I have been playing tennis for over 20 years, have similar body builds, are coached by the same instructor, and have very similar playing styles. However, I have played with four different brands of racquets in my life while he still uses the same racquet he had when he was 14. I like super-light racquets, which in turn gives me more racquet speed. My brother uses a Babolat Pure Control (now called the Pure Strike), which is a significantly heavier racquet compared to what I use and gives him a lot better control.
Everyone is different, and not every racquet is created equally! The best tennis-racquet brand is the brand that gives you, the player, the best arm-to-racquet connection when contacting the tennis ball. You want a racquet that feels like an extension of your arm. To get an idea of this, let’s take a look at professional players and see what they use.
In this article, I’ll outline which brands have a proven track record of success and popularity among some of the world’s best tennis players. With that being said, let’s get into it.
A lot of us are familiar with the Wilson brand. The Wilson Sporting Goods Company has been making sports equipment for over 100 years, from tennis to football to baseball, and has a handle on most sports. What is interesting though, is that tennis was the Chicago-based company’s first sporting-good product. The company started in 1913 under the name of the Ashland Manufacturing Company, which was a slaughterhouse that produced byproducts from animals. By 1914, the company was producing violin strings, surgical sutures, and tennis strings. A new president, Thomas E. Wilson, took over in 1915 and renamed the business the Thomas E. Wilson Company, and by 1917, the company was exclusively manufacturing sporting goods, expanding to baseball shoes and tennis racquets. Since then, Wilson has been one of the world’s leading sporting-goods manufacturers.
Wilson has had a lot of time to manufacture and perfect their tennis-racquet gear, and it shows. Looking at the top 200 ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tennis players, roughly 70 ATP and 50 WTA players use a Wilson racquet. That’s roughly 35% of top-200 ATP players and 25% of the top-200 WTA players. Given how many brands there are in the tennis world, those numbers are pretty impressive!
Additionally, more than 150 Grand Slams were won by players using a Wilson racquet, like Steffi Graf, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Petra Kvitová, and Roger Federer. Of those Grand Slams, 117 were won using Wilson’s most popular racquet line, the Pro Staff, which was first released in 1983.
In the men’s singles alone, dating back to 1968, 37% of Grand Slams were won by players who used a Wilson racquet. The data shows that Wilson has produced results, showing that their racquets can perform well.
improve the performance and look of its racquets. Originally the HEAD Ski Company, Howard Head started the company in Maryland in 1950. An aeronautical engineer, Head loved skiing and finding ways to improve skis. He eventually moved his company to the Austrian Alps in 1969 since it was more suitable and practical to put his skis to the test. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that Head began creating tennis products. With the mentality of constantly innovating, Head created the first aluminum racquet. This racquet was used by Arthur Ashe (the namesake of the U.S. Open’s main stadium, Ashe Stadium) when he beat Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon in 1975.
Head kept the innovation going by introducing a titanium racquet in 1998, more commonly known as Head Ti technology, which is still used today. Head continues to produce champion-quality racquets used by players like Andre Agassi, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, and 2022 Australian Open Women’s champion Ashleigh Barty.
The most distinguishable thing I’ve noticed about Head is that it releases a new racquet every year! Not many companies do that, with Babolat releasing new versions every three years and Wilson every other year. Head has stayed true to its heritage of innovations, by cranking out cutting-edge technology. Heck, if Head ever needs someone to test their racquets, I’d be happy to immediately move to the Austrian Alps!
Full disclaimer: I love Babolat racquets! I personally use them in my tennis game, specifically the Pure Aero, as Babolat produces high-quality gear! This French company has been around longer than Wilson and was the first company to specialize in racquet games in 1875. Babolat’s specialty was in natural gut string—strings coming from cow intestines. However, Babolat didn’t start making racquets until 1994, with its first racquet line called the Pure Drive. The company’s breakthrough year came in 1998 when Carlos Moyá started using Babolat gear, and that same year, won the French Open and became the #1-ranked tennis player in the world.
Babolat exploded from there and now has three strong lines of tennis racquets: the original Pure Drive, the Pure Aero, and the Pure Strike. Rafael Nadal uses the Pure Aero and incidentally has the most grand slams in men’s tennis history! Currently, there is a long list of professionals who use Babolat, including Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki, and Garbine Muguruza. It’s safe to say that Babolat has a strong track record of high-performance racquets.
Yonex is one of those racquet companies that has been around for a good amount of time, starting in 1940 in Japan. Yonex racquets are unique because of their square-shaped racquet heads. Despite the unorthodox shape, Yonex has aided many champions like Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Lleyton Hewitt, and Stan Wawrinka. These racquets are worth looking at.
Isn’t that the British company that makes tires? Yes, yes it is. However, they have branched out since to include tennis rackets. Dunlop has been a huge brand since the 1930s, with champions like Rod Laver and John McEnroe. Now you are probably thinking, “You can’t be serious about these racquets, Russ!”, à la McEnroe, but I am very serious. Dunlop racquets are great and are used by top tennis players, like Kevin Anderson, who was a 2018 Wimbledon Finalist.
Made in Atlanta, Georgia, Prince racquets have been around since the late 1970s. A lot of well-known players have played with Prince, including John Isner, Michael Chang, David Ferrer, Mike and Bob Bryan (a.k.a. the Bryan brothers), Jennifer Capriati, and Pat Rafter. They haven’t been as popular in recent years on the Tour, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth trying. As a Curated Tennis Expert, I tend to sell a lot of Prince racquets.
Völkl racquets have a similar history to Head. This company started with ski gear, originating in Germany. It has since branched out to tennis racquets and strings. Völkl makes very good racquets recommended for beginner- to intermediate-level players.
Rookie Brands to Check Out
Based in the U.S., Solinco has been a major string company for some time. I stumbled upon this company a couple of years ago when I competed against a player who had a racquet with nearly neon-colored strings. After the match, I went over and asked him about them, and he explained they were Solinco strings, which he called the best strings ever, especially when it comes to producing topspin. He added that there was a huge following of users with the string. This following has since picked up steam in the professional Tour, and in 2022, Solinco decided to debut a line of racquets. They have two lines, the Blackout and the Whiteout, which are very clean-looking racquets, and from what I have read, they hit well. I’ll be testing them out soon.
This new company has been around since 2015 and has since produced some great racquets out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have tested Diadem racquets and can say I was pleasantly surprised with their feel. They have two lines as well: the Elevate and the Nova. Personally, I don’t love the looks of them, specifically the colors of the racquets, but looks are deceiving when it comes to racquets. For those who coach high-school teams or teach lessons, check this company out. They have sponsorship programs that can save you or your players money.
To circle back to my introduction, every racquet is different. We’ve discussed racquet brands that have been around for over 70 years and some that sprang up within the last 10 years. Regardless, people love both! What you need to do is find something that you will love and feel confident playing with, something that gives you that arm-to-racquet connection. Here are some things you can do:
Demo, Demo, Demo!
There are so many ways to try out racquets, so demo them out. Local clubs have racquets you can try, however, the problem with demoing at clubs is that they have preferred racquet brands. They will try to sell you that brand since they get them at wholesale and will make money on them if you buy them. Keep that in consideration. I recommend going to websites like Tennis Warehouse, Tennis Point, or TennisRacquets.com, and searching for racquets you can demo. They each have demo programs where you just pay for shipping, and you can typically demo up to three to four racquets for a week.
Talk to a Curated Expert
I know I am biased, but it’s nice to talk to someone who knows a fair amount about tennis gear. I recommend chatting with a Tennis Expert like myself so you can get a feel for what you really want out of a racquet.
Every racquet is designed differently and can be a lot to consider when deciding what to pick. What is the preferred racquet size for my game? How big of a handle should I get? What is the preferred string tension for each racquet? Does a certain racquet have a softer vibration upon contact with my shot?
One question I always ask anyone looking for a racquet is if they want one that produces easy spin, easy power, or easy control. This question narrows down the long list of options. Make it easier on yourself and just ask someone; you won’t be charged for getting good advice on gear.
Tennis is my passion and I love it, especially when I feel connected with my racquet. I hope you can find that happy place with your future racquet as well and have it be a peace-of-mind purchase and addition to your tennis equipment.