Could a Buyer’s Guide be of bigger importance on a racket sports blog? Probably not… that’s why I have taken the time to put together this comprehensive guide with my personal favourite frames.
That does not mean however that these frames magically will also suit you the best. Just as there are no fairytales in other area’s of life, they aren’t here neither. But while following my personal journey sifting through frames from different retailers, you might learn a thing or two from my mistakes.
Tips before starting your search
My first tip is one that probably will be a downer, at least it was for me when I first heard it. Skip the racket from your favourite pro player. Say what? Yep, just skip it. The reason behind this is actually pretty straightforward. As we model our technique to that of our role models we get a bias for evaluating our ‘natural’ potential on court. Even if you try your best modelling that forehand of Federer or Nadal, we all have our own, natural swing style. It’s just what comes natural to us and we should be thankful for it. That’s why testing what racket frame best suits you should always be about what ‘feels’ best to you on court. You’ll notice the difference when you start to make points you’d normally wouldn’t make, when you gain confidence in your shots, when you start to play like you’re not playing with a racket at all. That’s the feeling you are looking for. In order for you to get there, you need to let go of all your prior knowledge and bias. On the court, you should only focus on your shots and how you are making them. You’ll know what’s the best racket for you when you hold on to them. It just comes naturally.
Wilson Blade 98 16×19
Let’s cut to the chase first and focus on my selection. My personal favourite frame after years and years of testing different frames is the Wilson Blade 98 16×19 (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). Now it hurts me to say this quite frankly, because ever since I was a kid I’m a real Prince adept because my childhood hero Juan Carlos Ferrero played with a Prince (check my prior paragraph for more on this). But even aside from Prince, I really enjoyed playing with Head and Babolat frames. That’s why I was surprised I liked this frame so much, but I got to admit: once I started playing with this frame my confidence in my shots drastically increased. I could hit full force forehands without having the uncertainty of getting them in front of the baseline with proper margin or going for that down the line backhand without flying into the fence. This frame really is for the offence players that want to hit trough the ball but still play with enough stability and control. An absolute competition and tournament frame.
2. Babolat Pure Drive
My second personal favourite frame is a pure all-rounder and it has been around for quite some years now: it’s the Babolat Pure Drive (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). This racket is made for players who want to get into the rally and outplay their opponents. When you’re able to generate some decent spin, you’ll find that this frame is the perfect companion for that and will help you guid those shots to the back of the court. It has decent stability right out the factory, coming in at 305 grams (unstrung), but it still feels like a rather lightweight because of the balanced setup. I think this one of the most versatile frames on the market that could benefit a large group of players. However, I don’t like this frame so much when it comes to hitting a flat ball or serving. It misses a bit of mass to make those task easy for you, but it is something you can definitely adjust to by hitting a bit of extra spin on serve. You can’t really compensate to hit a flat backhand for example unless you’d be adding some lead tape, but than you are missing the point of this great all-rounder: hit with spin and pace and you’ll put your opponent into enough trouble.
3. Prince EXO3 Tour 16×18
My third personal favourite frame is the Prince EXO3 Tour 100 16×18 (link to check it’s current price at Amazon). It’s not the most recent frame out there but it still is one of the best additions I think to Prince’s historical tradition of innovation in the production of tennis racket frames. I like this frame very much for the addition to the sweet spot that the added O-ports provide. So, even when you string it with a stiffer poly this frame will still allow for a more ‘plush’ feeling when hitting the ball. Also, it’s swing weight benefits spin players that want to put some real pressure on their opponents in rallies. There might be a downside to this frame and that would be the lifespan of your strings. Because of the open string pattern, even stiffer poly’s may experience so extra resistance due to the added O-ports that cause a bit more friction, especially when the paint starts to chip off. Therefore, I realise, this frame definitely is not for everybody. But if you like to drive a heavy spin ball like me, than you can definitely consider taking it for a testdrive.