Archive for the 'Buyers Guide' Category
Fila Torneo Tennis Shoes

WEIGHT 13.5 oz.
SIZES 61/2–12,13,14,15
IDEAL FOOT TYPES Neutral and supinated

WEIGHT 11.8 oz.
SIZES 5–10,11
IDEAL FOOT TYPES Neutral and supinated

Last fall’s Axelis D offered tremendous support for advanced players, but at a cost—it was heavy. Fila put it on a diet but tried to maintain its stability. The result is this model.

With the Torneo, Fila eliminated the Axelis D’s bulky eyelet pieces and made the upper lighter and softer through the use of perforated microfiber and mesh. Stability isn’t on par with the fully loaded Axelis D, but it’s still solid, especially around the heel. The Torneo split the opinions of our playtesters: Women said the weight, support, and comfort were perfect. But the men didn’t have anything passionate to say, good or bad. They obviously hadn’t heard about the seven-month outsole guarantee.

It’s a good shoe if comfort and light weight are priorities.

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Dunlop Vision

Length: 27.5
Weight: 9.5
Ideal Swing - Short: No

Ideal Swing - Medium: Yes

Ideal Swing - Long: No
Maneuverability: Medium
Control: Low
Power: High
Comfort: Low

You’re a solid intermediate who’s lost a step due to injury or age, and you’re looking for a value racquet that’ll put the bada-bing back into your game. If this matches your profile, the Dunlop Vision might be manna from heaven. This stick has a good-sized sweet spot, thanks to the large head and concave design on the inside of the frame at the 2, 5, 7, and 10 o’clock positions (which increases the length of the main and cross strings). "I didn’t feel I mishit any shots, even if they were well off the center of the string bed," said one tester. Hard-hit balls tended to sail, but the Vision was ideal on the shorter strokes and volleys favored in doubles. "My serves were forceful and my volleys were powerful," said a 4.0 player. Though Dunlop wraps a layer of interwoven thermoplastic under the grip to reduce vibration, testers said they still needed a string dampener.

Delivers plenty of bang for the buck.

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Fila Alfa

Price: $95
Weight: 14.6 oz.
Sizes: 7–12, 13, 14, 15
Ideal Foot Types: Neutral and supinated

Everything about the Alfa is designed to give you the most comfortable and accomodating ride possible.

Sometimes Fila shoes favor fashion over function. The men’s Alfa (the women’s model wasn’t available for review) breaks tradition, as its substance matches its style. The Alfa has excellent cushioning in the heel and forefoot that doesn’t weigh the shoe down. Weartesters found that the soft leather upper provided a comfortablefit right out of the box, although it could have been more breathable. But the lining has Dri-Lex material to wick away moisture and keep your foot dry. Stability could be amped up around the heel, but that’s a quibble in an otherwise nice step forward for Fila.

Fila Alfa Scores

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Wilson KTour Review

If you know a thing or two about racquet specs, you’d think a racquet like the Wilson KTour wouldn’t appeal to advanced players.

For one, it’s too light at only 10.6 ounces strung. Another reason is the balance is all wrong. Player’s racquets are supposed to be head light, right? Ever since the days of wood racquets, advanced players have gravitated toward racquets with a strung weight upward of 12 ounces with a head-light balance.

The Tour racquet from Wilson, now in its fifth iteration, has continually bucked this trend. From its Hammer 5.2 roots through H Tour and nTour versions, the Tour has stayed true to form and remained light-er weight with an even balance.

Since its inception, folks have been claiming it wasn’t really a Hammer racquet, as it wasn’t head heavy enough. Many won’t see the KTour as a player’s racquet, either.

So what is the KTour?

The simple answer? A very solid racquet.

We caught up with big-hitting Lindsay Davenport at the 2008 Pacific Life Open. Having used all the various Tour racquets, she explained that the Tour racquets enabled her to still find consistency — even when unloading on powerful groundstrokes. Davenport video interview.

To find out if we could find that same Davenport-like balance of power and control, we strung several KTours with Wilson NXT 17 string at 57 lbs and hit the courts.


With the assets of control, maneuverability, spin and power, our team was impressed from the baseline with the KTour. Enjoying the versatility of the racquet was Danny. "Of the last three versions of this racquet, the Wilson KTour is my favorite. I found this racquet to have a really crisp feel from the baseline. When I say crisp, I mean firm. Generally, a firmer feel is something I stay away from, but this racquet worked out well for me. There wasn’t much that I couldn’t do from the baseline with this racquet. I could play just as well with the KTour as I could with any racquet. My variety of shots was something that stood out with the KTour. I was able to not only get good topspin with this racquet, but I was able to consistently flatten the ball out without making an error. I think the lighter weight was a factor as to why I was able to vary my shots so well. Testing this racquet made me think twice about the type of racquet that is good for me. Generally, I think a 12 ounce frame is good for my game, but after testing this 10.6 ounce racquet (strung), it is making me think twice. The last comment I want to add pertains to my backhand slice. It was noticeably better with this racquet than other racquets I’ve tested."

Spencer was impressed with the depth of his groundstrokes. "I was very comfortable hitting from the baseline with this racquet. The first thing I noticed was the solid feel. I love that. Being a fan of the nTour Two, it’s no surprise I liked the KTour as well. Off both wings I was able to hit deep, penetrating shots without overswinging. I liked the stability for a lighter weight racquet, while the maneuverability was fantastic. Having hit with a couple of different string set-ups with its open 16/20 string pattern, I preferred a polyester string, as it added even more spin and control, helping keep balls from floating long."

Feeling he could swing aggressively with this racquet was Chris. "I liked the response of this racquet off the ground. I found ample power and the response was very comfortable. I was impressed with the amount of spin I was finding on my shots and felt confident swinging aggressively. While I prefer heavier, head light racquets, the lighter weight and even balance felt pretty good. This racquet definitely felt stable; considerably so considering its weight. I’ve hit with all versions of the Tour, including the Hammer 5.2, and this one definitely felt the most solid to me."

Tiffani liked the amount of spin she was finding. "This racquet produced some nice spin for me, but it didn’t necessarily help me hit a ‘heavy’ ball. Because it’s light, I was able to swing quickly through the ball and get plenty of topspin. I play fairly flat, but I’ve been working on using more spin in my game. The KTour made that easy. I also enjoyed slicing with this one. However, I found this frame difficult to control depth wise with the multifilament string we usually use for playtests. It was just too lively. I felt like I had to hold back to keep the ball in play. Put in a poly and it’s a different story. I was much happier with the performance from the baseline because the poly gave me the control I seek." Ryan RS was enamored with the control from the baseline. "Right away I noticed that control was exceptional. This is the standout feature of the racquet. I was able to direct the ball on forehands and backhands with ease. A dampener in the stringbed kept the feedback very minimal, and it was quite a comfortable racquet even without one. Despite having almost identical specs, it felt a little more comfortable than its predecessor, the nTour Two. Even though it is definitely a control-oriented racquet, when I had time to set up properly the KTour delivered plenty of power. Slices came off the stringbed well and were extremely effective with the amount of backspin the racquet produced. The sweetspot felt about average size for a 95 square inch head."

An easy racquet to wield because of its weight, our team was pleased with the KTour when volleying. Tiffani felt much more confident at net. "I usually prefer a racquet from the baseline, but I found myself liking this one at net. I was pleased with the punch available from the stringbed and found the racquet plenty maneuverable. I wasn’t bothered at all by the extra quarter inch. I used to play with a 27.5 inch racquet, and one of the reasons I moved on from it was its lack of maneuverability. I didn’t find that with the KTour." Impressed by the weight and balance was Chris. "I was finding lots of pop at net with this stick. It felt easy to get around, and I enjoyed the maneuverability when forced to flick a pick-up volley or make a quick stab. The racquet never felt unstable, and I was again impressed by how the weight and balance of this stick came together." Spencer was more aggressive than normal when at net. "I really enjoyed my success and prowess at net with the KTour. Once again, the mobility of the racquet was outstanding, and with the pop this stick offered, put-a-ways were a cinch. With the confidence this racquet provided, I found myself being very aggressive at net, which is not the norm for me."

Ryan RS felt the mobility of the racquet made it shine at net. "The racquet is very maneuverable at net despite its slightly extended length. However, I felt that volleys lacked ‘pop’. It was easy to slice under the ball to keep shots low, but required extra work to keep volleys deep in the court. Directing volleys was fairly easy, although it was tough to consistently counter heavy shots at net." Enjoying the light weight and feel was Danny. "Crisp, solid and consistent is how I would describe this racquet at net. The lighter weight might have been a factor as to why I liked the racquet when volleying, but I found the racquet to have great maneuverability and feel. I’m not sure if it was the racquet or maybe a new type of volleying technique, but I was able to knife my volleys with great consistency with this racquet."

Spin and power seemed to be the defining features of the KTour with our playtest squad when serving. Thrilled with the combination of power and control was Spencer. "The KTour provided a nice combination of spin, control and power. I liked the depth and kick I could get, and when trying to heat one up down the T, the power was there. I was very comfortable when serving with this bat."

Ryan RS felt the extra length provided more pop. "The extra quarter inch helps with leverage and reach. Spin was fairly easy to impart, and I didn’t feel like the racquet lacked anything in this category. A slightly more head light balance might have added some speed to the serves." Having great success with his first serve was Danny. "My first serve was noticeably better than my second serve with this racquet. I was surprised how consistent my first serve was. I could hit a consistent flat serve with this racquet and achieve more pop on my serve than I could with most racquets that I’ve tested. The downfall was my second serve. I had a hard time finding a consistent second serve. I couldn’t put a finger on why I was having troubles with my second serve."

Enjoying lots of spin when serving was Chris. "I was able to serve with decent pace and get some nice action on the ball with the KTour. I wasn’t finding my usual pace and weight on shots, but was able to get some decent pop out of the racquet. I found it easy to whip the racquet through the contact zone, so access to spin was solid." Tiffani felt the KTour helped her velocity on serve. "Serves were adequate for me. There was nice access to some power. During this playtest I was coming off an arm injury so I hadn’t been serving for a while. This was a good racquet for me to practice the service motion because it was maneuverable. I injured my tossing arm, but it was good for my confidence to be able to swing fairly easily and still get some good pop on my serves."
Serve Returns

Having several different options when returning made the KTour effective for returning serves. Chris found the maneuverability and stability to be impressive. "As with groundstrokes and volleys, I was impressed by the combination of maneuverability and stability from the KTour. I felt like I could take a good rip at returns with this stick without taking a huge risk. The racquet felt comfortable and there was a decent amount of control to be had. When punching or blocking the ball back, the racquet felt solid and stable." Feeling more confident with defensive returns was Spencer."The combination of pop and maneuverability made this a nice racquet for returning serves defensively. Being able to get the stringbed on the ball and blocking back serves deep into the opponent’s court kept me in more points. On medium to slower paced serves I could take a good cut, but I tended to miss more, as I had slight timing issues with the lighter weight of this racquet."

Danny liked the versatility the KTour provided when returning. "I find any racquet that I like from the baseline will be a good racquet for my service returns. This racquet allowed me to vary my service returns. If I needed to spin my returns in I could. If I wanted to flatten the ball out, I could do that as well."

Liking the mobility and length was Ryan RS. "It was easy to get racquet head speed because of the maneuverability, but the racquet can become a little unstable if facing a big server. The extra quarter inch helped considerably when stretched out wide."

Tiffani was partial to polyester string on returns. "As with groundstrokes, I struggled with controlling the depth of my shots when it was strung with a multifilament. I played a doubles match with it, and it was a struggle to get into points. As with groundstrokes, I found the poly a better setup for me. It was like playing with a different racquet. The result with poly was balls deep into the court rather than deep behind the baseline."

Having a very similar feel to the nTour Two, the Wilson KTour offered a nice blend of maneuverability and power, with a solid feel. Our team was impressed with the amount of spin and control the KTour offered from all areas of the court. Though the weight of the racquet was light, with a close to even balance, the KTour still allowed our testers to be successful with aggressive shots, while the open string pattern helped with spin production. We found the KTour to be very versatile from all areas of the court and a good option for a wide level of players.

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Head MicroGel Radical Tennis Racquet Review

Andre has left the building.

But his HEAD Radical still plays on.

The king of Radical, Andre Agassi, may have retired from professional tennis, but his racquet of choice is still swinging.

And while Andre may no longer be on the tour, when he steps onto the court, he’s still a Radical guy.

The latest version of Andre’s racquet gets updated with HEAD’s new MicroGel Technology. There’s also a new look to the MicroGel Radical racquets - after all, it was Andre who said, "Image is Everything."

The updates are more than skin deep with the MicroGel Radical series. HEAD’s MicroGel Radicals feature a MicroGel construction that, when combined with carbon composite fibers in the racquet head, deform and compress upon ball impact, uniformly absorbing and distributing the impact load around the entire frame. HEAD states the result is a rock solid feel with improved comfort at impact.

As with the previous Liquidmetal Radical and Flexpoint Radical racquet lines, the MicroGel Radical comes in three versions. Andre’s preferred Oversize headsize is joined again by a Midplus headsize. The third version of the MicroGel Radical, called the Pro, sees the continuation of a heavier player’s spec Radical, with a 100 square-inch head and a more open 16/19 string pattern. While the heavier Radical in the Liquidmetal and Flexpoint lines was called the "Tour" version, HEAD has changed the name to "Pro" here - in keeping with its MicroGel Extreme racquets.

We handed the new MicroGel Radicals over to our test team for some extensive hitting. Read on for the results of our three-week playtest.

Our team found lots of control hitting from the baseline with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. Finding heavy emphasis on control and comfort off the ground was Chris. "I found this to be a very control-oriented racquet from the baseline. The racquet felt very soft and forgiving. I liked the feel and felt well-connected to my shots. I found this to be the most comfortable Radical in recent memory, with a more dampened feel compared to the Liquidmetal and Flexpoint versions. Off both wings I could take big cuts at the ball without fear of over-hitting. Even with a lively multifilament string, I found a ton of control with this racquet. To get some added pop, I’d be looking to string this one at the low end of the recommended tension range." Also enjoying the controlled response of the racquet was Jason. "A very solid feeling racquet off the ground. I really enjoyed the control this racquet offered. Even with the tighter string pattern, I felt that the racquet generated a good amount of spin. Keeping the ball in play was not a problem, but at times I couldn’t get the ball as deep into the backcourt as I wanted. Control was great! When going for the big shots, I never felt the ball would fly. This MicroGel version of the Radical Midplus also offered great feel and feedback."

Finding a solid response from the racquet was Spencer. "A nice solid feel on groundstrokes. The tight string pattern offered nice control, though I had a little trouble finding depth on my shots. I also didn’t get as much spin as I would have liked." Granville found an appealing response from the MicroGel Radical. "The Microgel Radical Midplus felt good in my hand. I liked the balance and soft flex. It felt very maneuverable, with a solid response. It did not offer the ‘crisp’ response that I find with my regular racquet, unless I struck the ball perfectly. I found that I really needed to watch the ball very closely to find the sweetspot. Overall, though, I found this Radical very appealing." Enjoying the control, but left wanting for spin was Ryan K. "I was able to get a good amount of control with the Microgel Radical Midplus. It felt comfortable to hit with, but it took some time for me to be able to hit a fair amount of topspin with it. I was able to really place my shots, but I felt like I had to put too much effort into getting the topspin I wanted. It was hard to find the spin that I usually get with my racquet. I really didn’t feel much extra pop on this racquet, either."

Our team enjoyed lots of feel and control with the MicroGel Radical Midplus at net. Finding some pinpoint accuracy on his touch volleys was Spencer. "I enjoyed the feel of this racquet at net. I liked it most with the more delicate touch volleys. I didn’t have as much confidence when trying to put volleys away, and felt any off-center shots were affected by a little instability." Also feeling well-connected to his volleys with the MicroGel Radical Midplus was Granville. "This one was perhaps the least forgiving racquet at net between the three iterations, but I liked the response best. I found some very precise action from the stringbed and good feel. I still need more time with this to make the most of what it has to offer."

Finding the racquet to be crisp and maneuverable at net was Ryan K. "Volleys were very crisp with this racquet. The Microgel Radical Midplus also had excellent maneuverability at net. The high level of comfort only improved the feel for me on volleys." Jason was getting the job done at net with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "Maneuverable and solid. For the most part, getting the racquet to go where it needed to and getting the ball back over the net was not a problem. Volleying hard-hit shots is where I felt the racquet had some torsional stability problems. Overall though, this racquet can get the job done and get it done well at net." Finding lots of control at net was Chris "This racquet felt very soft and forgiving on volleys. Again, I had no issues with hitting long and lots of control to find the short angles. I was impressed by the comfort, and the racquet offered a very dampened feel. There was enough feedback for me to find my spots on touch shots, but I felt the response was much more dampened than buttery."

When stepping up to serve, our team found lots of control and consistency with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. Granville quickly dialed in his targeting on serves. "The Microgel Radical Midplus has a very precise feel when serving. I had the sense I could place the ball on a dime. The other side of that coin is the inherent lack of power with the racquet." Finding lots of control on serves was Ryan K. "I felt comfortable serving with the Microgel Radical Midplus, but it lacked extra pop. I had to supply my own power, but it felt really solid."

Jason found a controlled response when serving with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "The control was good. I could get the ball in the direction I wanted it to go, but I felt a lack of power. It just seemed as if my serves were lacking some zip. Hitting 2nd serve slices was not a problem. I found the level of spin was more than adequate with this racquet." Finding plenty of bite from the stringbed of the racquet was Chris. "I was serving consistently with this racquet and had no trouble finding my targets. Pace was OK, but I was much more impressed with the spin and control. The racquet felt somewhat low-powered so I concentrated on placement and variety over pace. As from other areas of the court, I found plenty of bite from the stringbed. I felt confident going all out on second serves without fear of hitting long." A solid sense of directional control impressed Spencer on serve. "I would say the Microgel Radical Midplus is the least powerful of the Microgel Radicals. Direction and control were good, although I wasn’t getting the desired result when it came to spin."
Serve Returns

The comfortable and control oriented response continued to impress our team when returning. When it came to shot selection, Jason found lots of variety while returning serve. "Because this racquet is fairly stable and maneuverable, it opened up some options on returns. Against big first serves, blocking the ball back was easily done, and on second serves I could really take a nice full swing at the ball from either the forehand or backhand side." Ryan K was also taking a good cut at the ball with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "On most of my returns I was able to rip my returns back with this racquet. Finding the sweetspot was very easy and effective, although adding a good amount of topspin took some time."

Finding a demanding response from the racquet when returning was Granville. "Good stroke production is critical to maximize returns with the Midplus. I was able to drive the ball effectively when prepared." Spencer found an easier time on return with the MicroGel Radical Midplus. "A pretty easy stick to return with. If I had one complaint with returning serve it would be lack of depth. It was more difficult to get returns back deep with any consistency."

Said Chris, "I really felt like I maximized the control and response of this racquet on returns. I was able to play aggressively with this stick and still be consistent. I wasn’t blowing returns past my opponents like I can with my regular stick, but my control and placement was strong. I especially liked the control on chip and slice returns. I was able to drop the ball low to the serve and volley player’s feet, then move in and finish them with a forehand - lots of fun."

We found lots of control with the MicroGel Radical Midplus from all areas of the court. The level of comfort at contact was also very impressive. Most racquets offering a high level of comfort sacrifice feel. There’s no loss of feel with the MicroGel Radical Midplus, and our team found this one a solid performer when it came to shot targeting and touch play. The traditional 18/20 Radical stringbed seemed to add to the sense of control, and our team felt confident with this stick during aggressive exchanges. Getting power from the racquet was up to the playtester and good stroke technique was required for heavy hitting. As with previous Radicals, we found excellent mobility and control, but with improved comfort and a softer feel. A solid hitting racquet, this one’s a solid update to the Radical line and well worth a demo.

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