Archive for the 'Manufacturers' Category
Pro Tennis: It’s High Time to Bring Back Wood Rackets

Wood Tennis RacketsBy D-Wil of AolSports fans - Professional tennis players need to go back to wood.

After watching Maria Sharapova hit one of her patented squash-like wristed stretch forehands and watching Rafael Nadal (both Maria and Raffa bludgeoned their opponents today at the French Open) do the same, and many other not-so well known players hit similar shots, I got disgusted. I’m joining John McEnroe’s oft-spoken suggestion to both the men’s’ - ATP - and women’s - WTA - tours, bring back the wood!

I have grown tired of watching pros hit "equipment shots," the kind of shots that were impossible before the advent of composite tennis rackets. I’m tired of players with marginal games, but with one weapon only advance far in tournaments because they can now use their on stroke, swing as hard as they can and hit winners from anywhere in the court.

Today power is more important than strategy and speed is more important than court position. The ability to generate tons of power only through racket speed means players are no longer forced to think their way through a point. Why do that, when you can slug your way out of trouble, a la Fernando Gonzalez? Sure, Gonzo has hired Larry Stefanki, to help him think more on the court, but he still largely stomps his way through matches like the proverbial bull in a china shop.

Wood rackets are much heavier than their composite cousins, and do not require as much racket speed to generate power. However, with their smaller racket heads, the "sweet spot" - that perfect striking area on the racket face - on a wood racket is actually smaller than a tennis ball. The sweet spot on composite rackets is more often than not, oval and the size of two tennis balls in width and two and-a-half balls in length.

These rackets were originally derived with the everyday player in mind; to make it easier for that player to share in the experience of playing tennis. What composites did, though, is make these rackets so costly that playing tennis is not a viable exercise activity for many people; $200 dollars for a good racket compared with about $50 for a wooden racket, $70 strung - is a pretty penny for an instrument that you them must take lessons - more money - learn to use. So, rather than make the game more accessible to the average person, with new material technologies applied to tennis rackets, tennis priced itself into a near, elite-only, status.

But back to the game itself. If top players and satellite players were forced to use wooden rackets, we would find that many players we think are good now are not quite what they appear to be. The game would be slower, forcing the players to think their way through nearly every point; think about the consequences of every shot. On quicker surfaces, especially grass, serve-and-volleyers would regain their inherent, fast surface advantage. However, this advantage would not be at the expense of the game itself.

Back in the day of Bjorn Borg and early McEnroe, a casual observer could see how good a players’ hands were. We’re not talking pure hand-eye coordination, but feel for the ball on the racket. That art is nearly lost today. No longer can a player like Johnny Mac or Borg slice-and-dice a player to death; a wide shot here, a deep shot there, a slice her, a topspin shot there and before you know it, you’ve lost 10 points in a row - and you didn’t feel a thing. Today, it’s a 130 mile per hour serve (Venus Williams hit a 129-mph serve at the French Open this past week), 80-95 mph forehands, backhands whacked as hard as possible, swinging instead of punched volleys - power, power, power. And whoever can corral their power best wins.

Ack! I want to see thought and guile. I want the blend of speed, grace, good hands, and deft shot-making. I want wood.

How about you?

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James Blake Returns to Dunlop

James Blake

PARIS, May 26 /PRNewswire/ — Dunlop Sports Group Americas announced today that James Blake has rejoined the Dunlop Tour Team, the most accomplished in tennis. Presently ranked # 8 in the world, Blake is the highest ranked American player to sign with Dunlop since John McEnroe in 1981. Adding to the excitement, Blake will be playing with a Dunlop frame at the French Open, his first tournament since re-signing and where Dunlop is the official ball supplier. Dunlop plans to unveil which one of its cutting-edge Aerogel racquets James Blake will play at the Wimbledon championships.

"I began my professional career at Dunlop, have played the best tennis of my career with a Dunlop frame and I am looking forward to calling Dunlop home again," said Blake. "The new Aerogel racquet technology provides several frame specifications that will suit my game well and give me the confidence to know that I can take my career to new heights."

Known for his speed and powerful forehand, Blake was first signed by Dunlop when he turned pro in 1999. He has won a total of 9 professional singles titles and finished 2006 at a career-high World #4. His unwillingness to accept defeat in the face of adversity and his charisma both on and off the court have made him a fan favorite.

"James has enormous talent, presence and respect on tour," said Neil Morton, CEO of Dunlop Sports Group Americas. "He epitomizes what Dunlop tennis is all about. We’re excited to have him back, and we know he’ll have continued success playing with Aerogel."

With Blake, Dunlop continues the strong momentum built behind its line of Aerogel racquets which has received a number of ‘best in class’ awards around the world. Aerogel is being played by an increasing number of top tour professionals and top junior players - its success made clear through record sales.

Dunlop Sports now boasts 4 players in the ATP top 12 — James Blake (8th), Tommy Robredo (9th), Tommy Haas (10th), and Tomas Berdych (12th) — all of them playing with the extraordinary technology of the new Dunlop Aerogel racquet.

About Dunlop Sports Group Americas

Dunlop Sports Group Americas, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dunlop Slazenger International, Ltd. is known worldwide by sports enthusiasts who value quality and performance in their sporting goods equipment. Headquartered in Greenville, SC, the company’s product line spans tennis racquets and tennis balls; squash racquets and balls; Carlton badminton racquets and shuttles; golf balls, golf accessories and golf clubs. International endorsers include tennis legend John McEnroe, world squash champion Jonathon Power and three- time world long-drive golf champion Sean Fister.


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A Tennis Racket Can Make Or Break Your Game

Tennis RacketYou are in love with the game of tennis and can not get enough of it. Starting off in school learning to play on basic gym equipment was the beginning-then in college you made sure that you took tennis as your required physical education classes.

The time has now come for you to get your own personal equipment and you want to get a tennis racket of your very own. To make a personal statement to everyone that you have come of age, are serious about this sport, and want to compete with your friends evenings and weekends.

What type of tennis racket are you going to purchase? They vary in length, weight, and head size, and you will need to figure out which one is the best for you. Think back to your beginnings playing this sport-what did you like or dislike about the different tennis rackets you used. This can be a starting point to begin narrowing down your choices.

A very important component for the tennis racket is the head size as the power behind your swings is directly affected. A larger head will give you with more power than a small head and also provides you with a larger hitting area making it a little easier to hit the ball. Generally speaking, a smaller racket head appeals to more accomplished players seeking more control, while larger rackets appeal to beginning and intermediate players seeking more power and a larger head.

They range in length from 27-29 inches with most people selecting the 27 inch ones. However, a longer handle provides more reach on ground strokes, adds leverage on serves, and slightly more power, than one with a standard length.

The weight has also been reduced making them lighter and easier to hold.
If you have friends or co-workers that also play, ask them about the type they use and why. They will enjoy talking to you about the sport and in providing you with information and advise. And, there is nothing more flattering than to ask someone for their opinion on a topic that they really enjoy and believe that they are an expert in.

Some of these people might even loan you some of their equipment so that you can try it out and find out whether or not you like it. No matter what your preference for a tennis racket is, you have to find the best one that meets your needs. This may even mean renting them and testing them out for a few games. This is probably the best way to have an opportunity to use many different types, styles, models and different manufacturers without spending a lot of money on ones that will just end up collecting dust in the closet.

Get out and play every weekend. The exercise is good, you will meet new people, and be out in the fresh air. This is much better than spending your weekend sitting in front of the television or going to the office to catch up on work.

Enjoy yourself, life is too short.

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History Of The Tennis Racket

The beginning of modernization

Reagrding the history of the tennis racket, The Open Era of tennis saw many exciting, long rallies even on the fastest surfaces such as grass or cement as tennis rackets were made of sandwiched wood. It wasn’t until the mid sixties, when Wilson’s T2000 metal racket caught on. While metal rackets could be found as early as the late 1800’s, it was never widely used. Wilson’s T2000 tennis rackets were lighter and stronger than any wooden racket and Jimmy Conners, one of the first pros to adopt this new technology used it for most of the 1970’s and found Grand Slam success after success. The long neck, steel frame soon became a best seller.
The T2000 was faced with stiff competition in 1976 when the first popular oversized racket was introduced by Prince. In those days, oversized meant around 95 square inch hitting area. 
While these new rackets helped introduce more players to the game, thanks to forgiving rackets with their huge sweet spot, light weight and increased power, it created a re-learning experience for more powerful, advanced tennis players. Wooden rackets were much stiffer, which made shots more predictable, while the new, lighter aluminum tennis rackets gave too much flex and simultaneously power, resulting in shots ending up in unfavorable results. Off center shots with power distorted the frames and also changed the string direction, causing shots to deviate from their desired target areas. 
Advanced players needed a stiffer frame material, and the best material proved to be a mixture of carbon fibers and a plastic resin to bind them together. This new material acquired the name "graphite," even though it isn’t true graphite such as you would find in a pencil or in lock lubricant. The hallmark of a good racket quickly became graphite construction. By 1980, racquets could pretty much be divided into two classes: inexpensive racquets made of aluminum and expensive ones made of graphite or a composite. The playing days of wooden tennis rackets came to an end, sending them to the dark corners of our closets.

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Tennis Racquet Review

Player’s Rackets
These models are typically heavier (11.5 – 13+ ounces), with smaller heads (85 – 100 square inches), with thinner beams and usually more flexible with an even or head light balance. This type of racquet is low-powered, designed for players who provide their own power and need or want a racquet that offers more control. These racquets are usually standard or slightly longer. Roger Federer, the current world number one player uses a Wilson nSix-One Tour 990 nCode tennis racquet.

Wilson nSix-One Tour 90 nCode Racquets
The nSix-One Tour replaces the Pro Staff Tour 90 as Wilson’s flagship player’s racquet. The nSix-One Tour is designed to offer greater frame strength, more stability and more power. A good all around racquet, the nSix-One Tour 90 will reward those skilled enough to swing it with accuracy and good weight of shot. We found the racquet to play very stable, even when in use against hard-hitting opponents. Best suited to 5.0+ NTRP level players.




Babolat Pure Control Team Standard Racquets
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, standard length, midplus (98 square inch) player’s racquet with a very stable, comfortable feel, the Pure Control from Babolat fits the bill. The Pure Control is ideal for players who like solid heft, stability and, as it’s name implies, control. Advanced and tournament level players will find the Pure Control is a diamond in the rough - and gaining popularity quickly. Used by several ATP and WTA Tour pros. Includes Babolat’s Woofer System grommet technology





Head Flexpoint Prestige Racquets
As with the Mid, the Midplus offers a crisper, cleaner feel compared to previous Prestige racquets. Some extra beam stiffness results in a solid and stable feel from all areas of the court. The weight and mobility of the Midplus makes for a very stable racquet that’s more than up to the task of handling the heavy hitting found at the higher levels of play. We found this one well suited to all court players. There’s plenty of control from the baseline and a little extra pop compared to previous versions. Advanced players will still find this racquet mobile when pushing forward, yet there is ample weight and a crisp feel, allowing the player to stick volleys with plenty of gumption. The larger sweetspot and more forgiving nature of the Midplus headsizes makes this a solid choice for 4.5+ level players who take long, fast swings at the ball.

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