Showing posts with label tennis racket review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tennis racket review. Show all posts

Tennis Racquet Reviews for 3.5-4.5 NTRP players @ 98 or 100 sq in.

It's March, and time to demo the new Spring line of tennis rackets!

Coming out of Winter, it's a great time to invest in some new tennis frames and/or fresh strings.

We've spent the last 30 days, Feb 1 - March 1, demoing 21 fan-favorite frames for 2021 to bring you this comprehensive review. Whew!

We chose the most popular frames from these top manufacturers: Babolat, Head, Wilson, Yonex.

This year, we decided to review 98 and 100 sq. inch models. Tweener and Player Frames for 3.5-4.5 players.

The La Jolla Tennis Workshop was our choice for their demo program. It's our way to support a local small business and a community favorite here in Southern California during a tough 12 months of lockdowns.

Challenge: 30 Days to demo 20 Racquets for only $20?!

Most online shops let you try 3-4 racquets for 2 weeks at $25. A local tennis workshop offers more options and some key qualities you can't get online: in-person service that cares about the small details and puts customers first. After getting feedback from a few "secret shoppers" and interviewing their staff, everyone I spoke to was very knowledgeable, helpful, efficient, and customer-friendly.

Their main highlight is an excellent demo program which is $20/month (4 weeks) to take out 3 racquets at a time for up to 5 days each. You can exchange demos as often as you like. If you buy from them, the purchase price is reduced by the amount of the demo cost. I purchased two racquets and they gave me an additional $10 off for the pair. Please just mention Jacky sent you from Tennis-Bargains.

Mark, the owner, is very fair and knowledgeable about the subtle differences. After my feedback, he was the one who customized a recommendation for the final racquets I'll be using in the next few years. I only switch racquets every 4-6 years, so with this important decision, I did a very thorough playtest

Jason was very good about notifying customers when a racquet on the waitlist might be available again. The La Jolla Tennis Workshop is right across from the La Jolla Library. Please visit if you're in San Diego.

How we tested and compared our 98 and 100 frames

All frame sizes tested were 98 or 100 square inches this year. All fit into two general categories:

The "Tweener" (10.5oz-11.5oz) is intended for rising juniors or players in the 3.5-4.0+ levels, usually at 100 sq. inches. Extra power is given from the frame and launch trajectory.

The "Player Frame" (11.5+ oz) category is for high intermediate to advance adults at the 4.0-4.5+ levels and generally have <100 sq inches. Generally, good technique is required, along with good timing.

Playtests and feedback:

We compared 3 similar models in each round with reference string tension at around 53 lbs. The strings used were the recommended poly/hybrid provided by the manufacturer. The racquets were used against 3-5 players ranging between 3.5-4.5 levels of different playing styles with feedback given as the "weight of my shot" and observations from the receiving end.

All of the top frames listed below were also used in match-play situations with both feeds and serve to start the point. Every 4 games, I would change a racquet and record my observations and results. Photos were taken of each racquet

2020-2021 Full Demo List

Babolat: Pure Strike 3rd gen 18x20/98/100; Aero MP/Tour; Pure Drive VS/100/Tour;
Wilson: Blade 18x20, Clash Pro, Burn 100, Ultra 100;
Yonex: Ezone 98/Tour, VCore 98;
Head: Radical MP/Pro, Extreme MP/Pro, Speed MP/Pro.

Best of Breeds

Tournament Player Frames - Yonex Ezone Tour, Head Gravity Pro
Spin-Friendly - Babolat Pure Aero, Head Extreme
Lighter, rally-friendly - Wilson Clash/Burn/Ultra, Head Extreme MP
18x20 String Pattern - Babolat Pure Stike 18x20, Wilson Blade 18x20, Head Gravity Tour/Pro (100)

Top Picks by Size and Play Style

Top Tweener 100 sq inches: Babolat Pure Aero
Top Player's 100 sq inches: Babolat Pure Drive Tour, Head Gravity Pro
Top Tweener 98 sq inches: Babolat Pure Strike, Yonex VCore
Top Player's 98 sq inches: Yonex Ezone Tour, Head Radical

Post-covid Tennis Racquets - Reviews and Prices

The breakthrough designs

Yonex - VCore and Ezone Designs

Some of the best quality control and 4.0+ player-friendly designs for strikers. The newest versions of both Yonex lines were standouts and best-sellers. We immediately understood why.

The Ezone premiered last year and is a very popular 2020 frame for the control player who demands quality and precision in their specs.

The Ezone (as featured by Krygios and Osaka) offers a classic feel and precision. For a heavier version, we also enjoyed the Ezone Tour for the added weight and plow-through. We recommend trying both.

The VCore line (red) is actually just a small adjustment made to the mold of the Ezone to allow for a bit more spin and a little less stiffness.

VCore adds slightly more spin potential on a slightly more forgiving frame in terms of stiffness. I felt the Vcore 98 was superior in class among the other 98 frames.

The Vcore 100 felt too light and lost a lot of the magical qualities in the 98 that we were so impressed with.

Head Racquets - Top Picks: Extreme, Gravity, and Radical

The Gravity Pro (5 star rating), Tour, and MP lines are all worth trying. Head has the most variants among all the manufacturers. Every player should be able to find a weight and balance in their wide range.

The Head Gravity Tour and heavier Pro models offer the 18x20 pattern on a 100 sq. inch head that we have missed since the Liquidmetal Instinct days.

We recommend getting the 2019 colors (shown on the left) at a discount. It is the same as the 2021 version, except with different colors, but you should save at least $60!

I have enjoyed the Head Speed, Radical, and Instinct models for tournament play for over 10 years in past demo reviews. This year's improvements were the most noticeable on the Extreme and Radical lines. Players should appreciate the newly updated improvements.

Most Arm-friendly

The control and comfort on all Head racquets with the latest generation were very apparent. Now they have added Arytix. They have consistently made some of the softest frames with any manufacturer's lowest stiffness ratings (RA), allowing the body many more hours of hitting per week.

Wilson Clash

Pros: Lots of flex. Perfect for the baseline rally. Most arm-friendly frame with a RA rating of 55! Most frames have 60+ RA. Anything above 65 is considered stiff. The Clash Pro offers slightly more weight.

Cons: Against fast serves and strong volleys, the flex on these frames can work against you. Many players have added lead on the frames.

Head Gravity

Pros: The heavier Pro version feels very solid with amazing plow-through yet in an 18x20 closed pattern and a 100 sq. inch head size with a thinner 20 mm beam.

The Tour model is slightly lighter and more spin-friendly. It has a larger sweet spot than most other 100 sq. inch frames due to the "teardrop" shape.

Cons: Slightly less maneuverable at the net with the higher swing weight. Must have good preparation and technique for quality shots.

New Edition of Best Sellers (Babolat):

Babolat Pure Aero (the new 2020-21 "Banana" yellow)

Babolat's Pure Aero (endorsed by Nadal) continues to wow fans. It keeps all the classic Rafa spin and looping abilities. The one downside is that you may burn through more strings. The spin potential from wider center mains and the potential to snap strings quicker.

But if the spin game and loop shots are your game - there is nothing better. Paired with RPM Blast, it creates easy spin, power, and depth access.

Simply choose the weight that is most appropriate for your swing and abilities (Lite < Team < Base < Tour).

Babolat Pure Strike (3rd Gen in Red and Black)
Pure Strike has added more weight and better plow through with slightly more dampening technology to help with stiffness.

I used this racquet in the Project One-7 (2nd Gen) version for almost 4 years. The reason I needed to switch was because of shoulder pain last summer. It was aggravated by a stiff string with a thicker gauge poly strung too high.

Babolat Pure Drive (Metalic Blue) - the 2021 versions felt very solid and the Tour is one of the most improved lines for Babolat. In the past, I did not particularly like the Pure Drive hitting style even since the Roddick days.

I also tried the VS 98 version but it requires a much faster and full swing with lots of racquet head speed. I typically generate a topspin shot for most groundstrokes.

However, after trying the new Pure Drives 2021's, I was clearly impressed by how well it accommodates hitting a flatter ball and has a lot of control through contact. Rumor is that the swing weight can be slightly higher than the specifications. If you want a true Tweener, make sure your racquet is in the right weight and balance.  The metallic blue color scheme also impressed other reviewers.

Frame Stiffness and Injury Prevention - Frames and Strings

A word to anyone with pain, try to use as thin of a string as possible and lower the tension a few pounds. By the time you lose tension enough to restring, the mains should be nearly breaking too. If your strings last forever and you have arm problems, I suggest putting fresh strings at a thinner gauge. 

During this past covid year, many tennis players are fighting inflammation across the body, which are being magnified. Let the strings and frame take the shock. My prescription is still to get plenty of Vitamin D and lots of rest. With more vaccines rolling out rapidly, every day is getting better, and it's getting better all the time.

I admit it's getting better (better)
A little better all the time (it can't get no worse)
Yes, I admit it's getting better (better)
It's getting better
Since you've been mine 
- Beatles (Getting Better)

Babolat AeroPro Team vs Babolat AeroPro Lite

Babolat AeroPro Lite and Babolat AeroPro Team

See Rafa's Babolat AeroPro Drive Racket - Review and Playtest video clips!

HD Pictures | Live Playtest Videos: AeroPro Team and AeroPro Lite

AeroPro Team GT (YouTube Review)

The AeroPro Team is a great all around racket that has the lowest swing weight among the 2013 Babolat AeroPro models (see chart above) - this allows players to really "whip" the ball with more racket-head speed and it is easier to generate slice and hitting short angle shots in my experience. This is probably suited well for 3.0-4.0 players who want to generate more pace through a faster swing instead of simply a heavier racket.

I found from my own playtesting that it is also easier to generate topspin with this Team model than the standard AeroPro Drive when swinging with the same amount of force.

AP Team - Rating: 4.0/5.0

AeroPro Lite GT (YouTube Review)

The light 9.8 ounce racket (strung weight) seems best suited to younger juniors or older senior players who are looking for a light and nimble frame for beginner to intermediate level players (2.5-3.5 NTRP). The yellow and black paint scheme makes it look nearly idential to those rackets being used by Babolat's Top Tennis heroes.

The AeroPro Lite is 2 point Head Heavy (which favors a baseline oriented game) and will help developing players slowly graduate toward staying in the rally longer.

Again with a relatively low swing weight compared to the AeroPro Drive, this racket has good maneuverability and the 100 sq. inch head size suits a good range of players. It is interesting to note that both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic use 100 sq. inch rackets.

If you're a casual player, and simply enjoy rallying with friends and want a tennis racket that looks cool - this is a fine choice, but there are also many other rackets with similar specs that cost less as well.

AP Lite - Rating: 3.5/5.0

Babolat AeroPro Line - Comparison Chart

NameBabolat AeroPro Lite GTBabolat AeroPro Team GTBabolat AeroPro Drive GTBabolat AeroPro Drive GT Plus
Head Size100in² / 645cm²100in² / 645cm²100in² / 645cm²100in² / 645cm²
Length27.00in / 68.58cm27.00in / 68.58cm27.00in / 68.58cm27.50in / 69.85cm
Weight9.80oz / 278g10.20oz / 289g11.30oz / 320g11.30oz / 320g
Balance Point2pts HH2pts HL4pts HL5pts HL
Swing Weight300293316326
Frame Stiffness71726972
Beam Width26.0mm26.0mm26.0mm26.0mm
Tip / Shaft23.0mm / 24.0mm23.0mm / 24.0mm23.0mm / 24.0mm23.0mm / 24.0mm
CompositionGraphite / TungstenGraphite / TungstenGraphite/ TungstenGraphite/ Tungsten
Power LevelLow-MediumLow-MediumLow-MediumLow-Medium
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses16 Mains / 19 Crosses16 Mains / 19 Crosses16 Mains / 19 Crosses
Mains Skip8T 8H8T 8H8T 8H8T 8H


Babolat is including a line of Babolat Rackets which are lighter than the model that Rafael Nadal uses. The 10.2 oz AeroPro Team GT and the 9.8 oz AeroPro Lite GT are rackets designed for 2.5-4.0 players (who prefer a lighter frame).

The stiffness on all the Babolat AeroPro lines are relatively stiff when compared to other brands. But if this is not an issue for you, then these are finely-made rackets with a strong following in the tennis community.

TennisTopia: Mention us for Free Stringing with all Babolat AeroPro Rackets!

Contact TennisTopia (MD) for full details! They also have many Babolat racket demo's available - including the ones we used to playtest earlier in these videos.

1701 Rockville Pike B-10
Rockville, MD 20852
Congressional Village Shopping Center
(Behind REI)

Phone: (301)230-9195

Babolat AeroPro Drive GT - Rafa's New Babolat Racket Design? Video Review

We've been granted a hands-on preview of Rafael Nadal's latest racket of choice, the Babolat AeroPro Drive GT! Put some fresh RPM Blast on there and gave the prototype a full demo at the wall.

The live test was filmed before this racket was made available to the public.
Our tennis fans got a sneak peek at the Best-Selling Tennis Racket line ever in the USA

Our Sneak Peek:
New Features Video | HD Photos
More Info: TW Review / Playtest / Forum

Our Review of the Babolat AeroPro Team and AeroPro Lite versions.

2013 Babolat AeroPro Drive Review

Click for Full-Size Comparison Chart

Quick Summary

It offers an exceptional blend of maneuverability, stability, and all-around playability for a wide range of improving players. This "tweener" class or "between Intermediate and Advance" levels fits a majority of players between the NTRP 3.5-4.5 skill levels.

Babolat Base-lining

As with most Babolat rackets, it helps to have a medium to long, fast swing speed to take advantage of all maneuverability in these aerodynamic frames (Aero). It can generate fast racket head speed more easily than other rackets, and actually feels surprisingly light (compared to other rackets) when you're swinging it.

The racket's ease is due to its lowered "swing weight" - which was dropped from 331 down to 316, in its current form. Also for 2013, it has been updated with Babolat's "Active Cortex" feature for more comfort on impact, it also feels slightly stiffer than previous years' models but a bit more control on mis-hits.

Our Recommended DC Area Tennis Supplier:
TennisTopia (Rockville, MD) - one of the Largest *Babolat Authorized Resellers* on the East Coast!

Tip: Call ahead 301-230-9195 or email: and mention "Tennis Bargains Promo" to reserve one first, with free stringing.

Nothing beats their face-to-face customer service and weekly deals

Sneak Peek Photos below

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