Posts Tagged ‘racquet’

PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review Wednesday with the Babolat Pure Strike and Pure Control Tour


Two years ago, I participated in a video racquet review for the Babolat AeroPro Drive. We hit first with the (then) current version of the racquet, and then with the newer version that was to come out in 2013. I hated the first one, and hated the second one only slightly less. For me, it was a total Babolat fail.

Since then, I’ve had a strong bias against Babolat racquets as “stiff, unwieldy beasts offering minimal control”. Sure it’s worked well for Rafa, but I’m not Rafa. With that, I turned my racquet-review attention to racquets that could help more than just lefty spinners from Mallorca!

babolat-overview-articleFast forward to the final months of 2014 and the realization that, personal feelings notwithstanding, Babolat racquets have become increasingly popular with both adult and junior players, and I need to find out why. So for my final racquet review of the year, I wanted to see if there were newer models that could help me overcome my anti-Babolat bias.

As it turns out, there were two! I asked my friend Marla at City Racquet Shop which Babolat she’d recommend, and she gave me two: the Pure Strike 18×20 and the Pure Control Tour. Much to my surprise, I liked both, and LOVED the Pure Strike.

Though the AeroPro line might still be “unwieldy”, Babolat has clearly managed to come out with sticks that are good for everyone else not named “Nadal”. 😉

Check out my reviews for both of these great racquets by clicking the links below:

Racquet Review: Many Reasons to Love the Babolat Pure Strike

Racquet Review: Babolat Pure Control Tour Offers Good Spin/Pace, But It’s a Beast!

(A big thanks to City Racquet Shop for the demos. If you’re in the Bay Area and interested in demoing and/or buying either of these racquets, stop by and Marla will hook you up!)

PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review Wednesday with the Wilson Steam 99 & 99S (VIDEO)

The Wilson Steam 99 and Steam 99S

The Wilson Steam 99 and Steam 99S

steam-sideI’ve never been a huge Wilson racquet fan, but wanted to spend a couple of days with the Steam 99 and Steam 99S to see if they could change my mind. No dice! Still not the sticks for me. But I did find lots to like about the Steam 99; less so with the 99S.

Check out my preview video above, then check out the full reviews by clicking the links below:

The Wilson Steam 99: A Solid Choice For Power, Spin, and Control

The Wilson Steam 99S: Promises Spin But Delivers Frustration

Racquets provided by City Racquet Shop of San Francisco.

Racquet Review Overview Video

PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review Preview: Two Days with the Wilson Steam 99 & 99S (VIDEO)


steam-thumb I’ve never been a huge Wilson racquet fan, but wanted to spend a couple of days with the Steam 99 and Steam 99S to see if they could change my mind. No dice! Still not the sticks for me. But I did find lots to like about the Steam 99; less so with the 99S.

Check out my preview video above, then check out the full review when it goes love on 5/21/14 for Racquet Review Wednesday.

Racquets provided by City Racquet Shop of San Francisco.

PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review: A Disappointing Hands-On with the HEAD Graphene Radical Pro

The HEAD Graphene Radical Pro

The HEAD Graphene Radical Pro

As a happy HEAD racquet owner, I tend to be a fan of their racquets. But as I’ve also stated before in previous HEAD racquet reviews (ahem, Graphene Instinct), not all HEAD racquets are created equal! Such is the case with the Graphene Radical Pro.

To be fair, it wasn’t my intention to do a formal review of the Radical Pro. I simply went for a hit with a friend who’d received his new sticks. After some racquet chitchat, one thing led to another and I soon had one in my hot little hands for a quick comparison with my own Speed MP 315.

After hearing a lot of good things about the Radical Pro, I was expecting a positive hitting experience. To the contrary, it failed to live up to the hype. I’d expected better feel/control on my shots. Instead, I was completely unable to keep the ball on the court without significant changes to my stroke pattern.


HEAD Graphene Radical Pro and Speed MP 315

Ground Strokes

My forehand suffered the most with the Radical Pro. Shots that usually land deep in the corners with my Speed MP were literally hitting the back fence. And any attempts to slow my stroke in order to keep the ball in play sent shots into the net. Accuracy went “out the window” as well. My favorite shot, the “inside-out” forehand, sprayed uncontrollably wide. And my cross court forehand was hit-or-miss at best.

Backhands weren’t disastrous, but were certainly nothing special. While I managed to keep most of them from hitting the back fence, I struggled with accuracy as I did with my forehand.


The one part of my game that didn’t suffer with the Radical Pro was the serve. I had decent control over serve placement, and was also able to slice it out wide with ease. The downside was a tremendous loss of power. As a player who relies on my strong serve as the foundation for the rest of my game, this would be unacceptable in any demo’ed racquet.

I switched between the Radical Pro and my Speed MP 315 every so often for real-time shot comparisons, and found that my Speed MP consistently gave me control that was sorely missing from the Radical Pro.


All in all, the Radical Pro was a bust for me. But since it wasn’t a racquet I intended to buy, that didn’t matter. The important thing was that it suited my friend’s game; and it did that very well. It gave him more depth and spin on his shots than he could normally generate on his own. (For comparison purposes, he hit with my racquet and struggled to achieve the same depth on his strokes, and could barely muster any spin.)

So if you need more pop and added spin on your shots, this is a good racquet to try because of the slightly lighter weight/stiffer frame, and 16×19 string pattern. If you already generate your own pace and spin, this racquet won’t help either, and will probably result in a loss of control. In short, I’d look elsewhere for a racquet upgrade.

HEAD Graphene Radical Pro Specs
Head Size: 98 sq. in
Length: 27in
Strung Weight: 11.5oz
Balance: 6 pts Head Light
Swing Weight: 326
Stiffness: 68
Power Level: Low
Swing Speed: Fast
String Pattern: 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension: 48-57 pounds

HEAD YouTek Speed MP 315 Specs
Head Size: 100 sq. in MP
Length: 27 inches
Strung Weight: 11.7
Balance:  6 pts Head Light
Swing Weight: 315
Flex: 65
Power Level: Low
Swing Speed: Fast
String Pattern: 18 Mains / 20 Crosses
Tension: 52-62 Pounds

PostHeaderIcon Roger’s (Totally Unbelievable) Racquet Weight Story

roger-racquet-600 / Getty

A funny thing happened yesterday at the BNP Paribas Open. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Roger Federer, the “Greatest of All Time”, tried to pull a fast one on me yesterday.

For nearly a year we’ve watched Roger go from dipping his toe into the waters of a new racquet to finally embracing the change and, ultimately, winning a title in Dubai with strong performances over his toughest rivals.

We know a lot about this new racquet. Some might say that we almost know too much. We know that it has a larger head (98 sq. in.) to provide him a larger sweet spot and more power. We also know that with the change in size came a corresponding change in string tension. Roger went from 22 kilos to 25-26 kilos in the new frame.

But there’s one piece of information about this new racquet that’s impossible to find: its’ weight. In a sport where the plus/minus margin of even one ounce can have a major impact on your shots, I was curious as to whether his tinkering with the weight had also been part of the adjustment issues with his new stick.

Here was Roger’s response to my questions about his racquet after his 6-4 6-4 victory over Tommy Haas in the R16:

Me: I know that you have been asked a zillion questions about the racquet and the larger head size, but one of the things I have not been able to find about this racquet is the weight. What is the weight?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know.

Me: You don’t know the weight? I was wondering if you were also tinkering with that along with string tension?

ROGER FEDERER: You do. But honestly I’m not a crazy nut about these little details. I let the experts handle that. I would tell them, I need more weight, more in the head, string tensions.

But in the end, what it really is, I don’t know. I can find out and maybe let you know, but it’s pretty much based on the same weight and balance like the other racquet, I’m sure. So it’s not, you know, is something like I have never felt before, and it needs to feel comfortable, and you can always — those little things you can always then still play with. But it’s important to feel like the racquet is giving you what you’re looking for.

Me: So the weight has never been anything that’s been that important to you?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it is. But honestly, I didn’t change weight or balance a whole lot throughout my career. It’s stayed pretty much in a very fine line, I’d say.

I was surprised that he didn’t know, but mostly satisfied with Roger’s response. That is, until I got back into the Media Room afterward and started chatting with some of the other writers. How could this tennis legend, a man who prides himself on knowing (and controlling) the details of everything from his tour/exhibition schedule to his training regimen, not know the weight of his racquet? When I was asked if I believed his answer, I was forced to entertain the possibility that “I’d been played” by the great one! Looking at how he’s been able to manage life on tour for this long (with the addition of a growing family), his lack of knowledge on this front is not conceivable.

He has to know the weight of his racquet!

I’m not sure why he’d try to pull the wool over my eyes, but that’s okay. Fool me once…well you know the rest.  I’ll be ready for Roger’s press conference shenanigans the next time, and I’ll call him on it. That’ll probably be the same day you read about a San Francisco tennis writer being ejected from a tournament. 😉

PostHeaderIcon “Ask Marla” #2 – Choosing the Right Racquet

Ask Marla

This week’s question comes from David S. of San Francisco, and is one of the most common questions when buying a new racquet.

Question: I want to buy a new racquet, but I don’t know what to look for. How do I know which racquet is right for me?

Answer: Keep it simple when choosing a racquet. Here are 4 easy tips to help:

    1. Demo several racquets
    2. Ask yourself “Do I need more power or more control?”  This will help you decide on racquet stiffness.  Stiffer = more power, More flex = more control
    3. Use as much weight as you can handle in a racquet (it adds to stability)
    4. String patterns matter. Open pattern = More spin, Closed pattern = more control and durability of your strings.

Good luck with your search.

Thanks Marla!
Got a tennis question, but no one to ask?
Send it via email or tweet for “Ask Marla”, a (hopefully) weekly (or biweekly) question-and-answer with Marla Reid of San Francisco’s City Racquet Shop.


About Marla Reid

Marla Reid is a respected tennis pro/coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s coached nationally-ranked teams and players at Occidental College, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of Kansas, and Florida Tech, and has over 15 years of experience at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. Marla has an M.A. in Exercise Physiology, and is a seasoned racquet stringer.

About City Racquet Shop

City Racquet Shop offers, superior products/services, outstanding customer service, and a community-oriented destination for tennis players to shop, hang out and talk about tennis.

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