Racquets for Entry-Level PlayersMatt Steverson
If one good thing has come out of the COVID situation, it’s the rapid growth in tennis participation. Many have been those returning to the game after a long layoff, but a lot have been new players. Most of these folks have come to my court either with old-style racquets, or pre-strung aluminum models from big chain stores, neither of which seem to help them play better. Thankfully, the racquet companies have offered us a way to “serve” them.
We can help some of these people with used racquets or demos of old models, but a lot of them need racquets tailored to players with less-developed swings: lighter weight, lower swing weights, and larger head sizes make for the more forgiving racquet they need. Also, they are made from higher-quality materials than their department store models, which will improve their playing experience. And the price points are fairly attractive to new converts.
In this article, I’m going to highlight a few models I carry in my shop, although most every major manufacturer offers something similar. The specs listed herein offer a great starting point for any beginner.
Volkl Team Speed
Volkl’s Team Speed series brings a lot of their good things to a lower-price frame. An actual graphite racquet brings power, stability and comfort to players who probably have a much less forgiving metal frame to start with. A low 265g (9.4 oz) weight is easy for less developed swings to move (and can be made heavier when needed). Unlike a lot of light racquets, the Team Speed is head-light, making maneuverability much easier (a bunch of less-expensive models are quite head-heavy). A nice 102 square-inch head size helps enlarge the sweet spot, and it has Volkl’s really nice Vibration Control Handle system for added forgiveness.
If you can find it, the Team Speed is also available in pink trim, for those who like that kind of thing. At a nice $109.99 MAP price, it’s a great deal.
Tecnifibre T-Fit Series
Tecnifibre offers entry-level players a lot of help in the T-Fit series frames. 2 weights are available — the graphite/aluminum 265g (9.4oz) TFit Storm, and the 100% graphite 280g (9.9oz) TFit Power — that are quite nice-playing sticks for beginners. I personally prefer the all-graphite model, especially for only 10 bucks more ($99 vs $89 MAP price). Either way, however, you get a lot of racquet for the money.
Beams are in the “tweener” range (23mm), and with 102 and 100 square inch head sizes, respectively, they fit perfectly in this segment. Just like the Volkl Team Speed, these low-mass, headlight frames are easy to customize as the player’s swing improves.
Note: all 3 of these racquets are factory-strung, which offers us another chance to add value to our clients. I — without apology — restring my demos, so that the racquet offers the best playability. Once the client settles on their racquet, I advise them that the best way to have it play how they like it is to have it custom-strung.
We have a great opportunity as tennis retailers to help all the new players we’ve garnered over the last couple of years. One of the best ways is to make sure they aren’t “beaten” by improper equipment. Tecnifibre and Volkl, among others, have provided us with great racquets to do it with.
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Great points Matt! I liked how you mentioned the higher-quality material does IMPROVE THEIR PLAYING EXPERIENCE and ensures players AREN’T BEATEN by improper equipment.