We’ll assume two things before we go on with our favorite racquets of 2013: (1) your experience with the sport is more extensive than a gym class and “tennis baseball” with the kids in your neighborhood, and (2) you, like us, are not a pro. In fact, we’ll venture to share that we’re nowhere approaching pro level. Sure, there was varsity in high school, consistent games against other former players in our college days, and a steady game against work
rivals friends — just enough to keep the rust from solidifying around our old tennis elbow injuries.
Now that we’ve got the whole “ethos” thing locked up (or not), let’s get down to business. There are a lot of tennis racquets out there. Some are endorsed by pros, all tend to have either slightly badass (T-Fight) or buzzword scientific (YouTek Graphene Instinct Rev) names, and a reassuring amount fall into the same moderately affordable price range. We’ve sorted through them and found five great ones across the player spectrum. Pick your favorite up, string it with your synthetic gut of choice and try not to shank that backhand down the line. The new stick should help.
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Wilson Steam 99S
Best Racquet for the Spin Doctor: Consistent topspin and a big kick serve are deadly tools in a refined shot arsenal, and this racquet is built to up your firepower. A unique 16 x 15 string pattern gives 3.3 times more string movement, whipping the ball off the racquet like a baseline-seeking dreidel.
Völkl Organix 7 310
Best Racquet for the Jack-of-all Shots: The 310 takes dampening seriously. “Organix” cellulose base material and a “Biosensor” weighted pin in the handle keep vibration to an absolute minimum, giving the Renaissance player a large sweet spot to nail every shot he’s got with comfort and stability.
Tecnifibre T-Fight 305
Best Racquet for the Runner: When you’re buzzing all over the court, the ball will rarely sit into your wheelhouse. You need a racquet that can still hit with power in close to your body or at extreme angles. Tecnifibre’s T-Fight (we like the 305, but you can also try the 295) gives you multifaceted power — at the baseline, scrambling, or punching away a volley.
Head YouTek Graphene Instinct Rev
Best Racquet for the Growing Player: Head’s Graphene is 11 times stronger than steel (and only 9.2 ounces, the lightest on this list), but you still can’t pound your racket into the court like an angry Serena when you double fault again. Still, if you’re losing games on serve with this racquet, it’s time to hit some balls after practice. It’s extra forgiving for newer players, provides excellent feedback when striking the ball, and makes for an extremely comfortable baseliner’s weapon.
Babolat AeroPro Drive
Best Racquet for the Big-time Baseliner: Nadal’s racquet of choice, the AeroPro Drive is not for the faint of heart. It has none of the forgiveness of more flexible racquets, but provides big pop on serves and baseline rips. And before you ask: no, it doesn’t give you the street cred to wear capris like Rafa.