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Tennis Racquets

The parts of a tennis racquet are the head, rim, face, neck,butt/butt cap, handle, and strings.

Modern tennis racquets vary in length, weight, and head size. 21″ to 26″ is normally a junior’s length, while 27″ or 27.5″ are for stronger and taller adult players. Weights of a racquet also vary between 8 ounces (230 g) unstrung and 12.5 ounces (350 g) strung. Racquets originally flared outward at the bottom of the handle to prevent slipping. The rounded bottom was called a bark bottom after its inventor Matthew Barker. But by 1947 this style became superfluous. Head size also plays a role in a racquet’s qualities. A larger head size generally means more power, and a larger “sweet spot” that is more forgiving on off-center hits. A smaller head size offers more precise control. Current racquet head sizes vary between 88 sq. inches and 137 sq. inches, with most players adopting one from 95-105 sq. inches.

Throughout most of tennis’ history, racquets were made of laminated wood, with heads of around 65 square inches. In the late 1960s, Wilson produced the T2000 steel racquet with wire wound around the frame to make string loops. It was popularized by the top American player Jimmy Connors. In 1975, aluminum construction allowed for the introduction of the first “oversized” racquet, which was manufactured by Weed. Prince popularized the oversize racquet, which had a head size of approximately 110 square-inches and opened the door for the introduction of racquets having other non-standard head sizes such as midsize (90 square inches) and mid-plus size (95 square inches). In the early 1980s, “graphite” (carbon fibre) composites were introduced, and other materials were added to the composite, including ceramics, glassfibre, boron, and titanium. The Dunlop Max200G used by John McEnroe from 1983 was an early graphite racquet, along with the very popular Prince “Original” Graphite. Composite racquets are the contemporary standard.

Longer racquets were introduced by Dunlop in order to give additional reach for shots such as the serve and volley where shorter players may be at a disadvantage. Midsize or mid-plus racquets are the general standard for professional players.

Stringing (material, pattern, tension) is an important factor in the performance of a tennis racquet. A few elite players use natural gut, but the vast majority of strings are a nylon or polyester synthetic. Some (American champion Pete Sampras is a prominent example) consider the natural string to be more responsive, providing a better “feel”, but synthetic is favored for its much superior durability, consistency, as well as much lower cost. String pattern (the vertical/horizontal grid) is a function of the racquet head size and design. A tighter pattern is considered to deliver more precise control; a more “open” pattern to offer greater potential for power and spin. Modern racquets are marked with a recommended string tension range. The basic rule is that a lower tension creates more power (from a “trampoline” effect) and a higher string tension creates more control (the less ‘trampoline effect’ the more predictable the power and angle of the departure from the string bed.)

Double strung tennis racquets were introduced in 1977 and then banned because they permitted excessive spin. A modern version of a legal double strung racquet has been introduced.