Best tennis rackets to hit the court with for beginners to advanced players

·16 min read
Nick Kyrgios with his Yonex EZone 98 during Wimbledon 2022  (AP)
Nick Kyrgios with his Yonex EZone 98 during Wimbledon 2022 (AP)

Choosing the right tennis racket can be a complete minefield.

Thesedays, you are spoilt for choice by a wide variety of models for beginners all the way through to advanced playing standards with a baffling array specifications to understand.

On top of that, there are other variables that can be considered, namely racket length, grip size, string choice, pattern and tension (not too mention balance, swingweight, beam width and lead tape if you wanna be really specific) - which could make all a difference to your game.

Price is also part of the process, and before making that final move, you might conisder the aesthetic factors and whether the racket has any star player endorsements.

You will find that tennis rackets come in three main categories:

  1. Beginner: These are all about forgiveness. Usually players opt for a lighter weight racket (approx 260-280g) and a larger racket headsize (100-110sq in) to hit shots with ease.

  2. Intermediate: Stepping it up a notch, consider both control and power. Look in the medium weight category (approx 275-300g) and a racket headsize of around 98-100sq in. These are for players who aim to hit with more power, spin, accuracy and depth.

  3. Advanced: Control is still important but so is feel. Heavier rackets (approx 295-325g), thinner frame beams (19-22mm) and smaller headsizes (97-100sq in) are ideal for players who are looking to hit with accuracy, spin and depth producing their own power with a long swing action.

A heavier racket produces more stability and mass, which in turn creates more power. A thinner frame beam and smaller racket headsize/closed string pattern (18x20) gives more stability, feel and control to a player. An open string pattern (16x19) offers extra spin and power capability.

Ashley Neaves, former UK Coach of the Year and Content Creator - The Tennis Mentor on YouTube and Instagram explains it simply: “For a player, their racket is an extension of their body and is very personal. Finding the right one can make the difference between playing with what feels like Harry Potter’s wand or Thor’s hammer.

“Using the right equipment is not only vital for your enjoyment and your performance, but also injury prevention. Rackets may seem expensive upon initial inspection, but if you find the right one, it will last years. When you compare to golfers having to invest in a set of 14 clubs, you just need one racket to play tennis (or two if you want a backup)”.

Shop our selection of some totally wicked frames to get your hands on - happy hitting!

Wilson Blade 98 v8

Weight: 305g

Headsize: 98sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and Luxilon Alu Power 125 strings used at 54.5lbs tension

Beam: 21mm

I’ve personally been using a previous version for a good few seasons now and can happily say the new - or 8th incarnation - is ace (if you’ll pardon the pun).

On first look, you are sure to be dazzled by the sparkling copper and olive green frame which changes tone when light hits it (don’t forget to match up the strings with Luxilon Forest Green). Otherwise you can always opt for an eco-friendly Earth Day design.

So what’s so different about this model? Well, Wilson has plugged in new Direct Connection technology into the butt cap and handle (part carbon fibre) making this generation even more stable and faster in action.

General feel is fabulous upon pick up, striking balls from the baseline gives a sublime sensation, especially when firing top spin groundstrokes on both wings. It offers excellent controllable power.

Volley-wise (my usual downfall), the Blade v8 takes a superb steady grip whilst tracking down tricky net play and cuts through the air like a well crafted Samarai sword. Service and return response is energetic and I felt able to mix-up and place my shots as I please.

I’m now going to put my money where my mouth is and say the Wilson Blade 98 v8 is a top drawer choice and series.

Playing Standard: Upper Intermediate/Advanced

Star Endorsement: Emma Raducanu, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Simona Halep

Buy now £255.00, Wilson

Tecnifibre TF-40 305 18M

Weight: 305g

Headsize: 98sq in

String pattern: 18x20 and Tecnifibre Triax 130 strings used at 53lbs tension

Beam: 21mm

As soon as I picked this beauty up, I had a hard time putting it down and when I did, I returned again and again and again.

Tecnifibre is right on the mark here with this ultra cool control oriented TF-40 flying across the court - sporting bright french tricolore decal graphics.

This is one fabulous number to have in your tennis bag, if you wish to experience comfortable high speed shot-making, but retain that all important firm feel and manoeuvability. This could be your ticket to a tennis title or, at the very least, a solid and inspiring game.

The entire interior surface of the frame is filled with foam (I know it sounds weird) and apparently gives more stability, shock absorption and feel. I can whole heartedly confirm this. The RS Sharp section located on the throat of the racket allows the frame to flex when you hit the ball and adds a control element.

I loved the ball pocketing on impact and felt like I could magic up anything I desired from any angle of the court. My game especially seemed to va va voom on approach as well as at the net. For that little bit of extra pop and spin, you can always try the 16x19 version. No doubt, you’ll gain greater clearance and ball revolution over the net.

Playing Standard: Upper Intermediate/Advanced

Star Endorsement: Arthur Rinderknech

Buy now £206.95, Pro Direct Tennis

Yonex VCore Pro 97

Weight: 310g

Headsize: 97sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and Yonex Poly Tour 125 strings used at 53lbs tension

Beam: 21mm

Some rackets need a bit more of a workout than others. So, for this play test, we dived straight into a competitive match on a very lively grass court surface.

Off the first ball, the 3rd generation VCore Pro 97 is a control and spin orientated affair and would certainly jump into life in the hands of an experienced player.

The isometric head accomodates a larger (and more forgiving) sweetspot for any off centre shots and snaps back phenomenal heavy spin. This is down to the lock booster grommet system eminating from the stringbed.

Big hitters who seek to take control of point play will also be lured into the incredible all round mobility and vibration dampening mesh in the handle providing power, flex and comfort.

The matt green and blue finish will no doubt shine whilst sweeping up a blitzing cross court smash.

I generally hit big (risky) serves and have a tendancy to flatten out my aggressive drives whilst sticking mainly to the back court. With this VCore, I felt I’d found a nice piece of gold that I could commit myself into a match and whip up some winning moves.

Yonex has a fine reputation for precise Japanese build quality. Precision and feel is everything.

Playing Standard: Advanced

Star Endorsement: Hubert Hukarz, Stan Wawrinka, Frances Tiafoe

Buy now £196.00, Pro Direct Tennis

HEAD Speed Team L

Weight: 265g

Headsize: 100sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and HEAD Lynx 130 strings used at 55lbs tension

Beam: 23mm

The Speed series has been around for many years and it has mostly kept to its distictive and minimal black and white pattern right through to the modern day. Look closely and you’ll admire the clean white gloss and matt black cosmetic with copper details.

The 2022 Speed uses Auxetic materials which stiffens the frame on fast swinging groundstrokes, giving more stability and softening slice and dropshots for more flexibility, ultimately giving ”sensational” feel, according to HEAD.

The Speed Team L leans towards power on the brand’s scale metric and would suit a junior or casual player seeking a baseline boost. It’s an easy racket to pick up, very light on the arm but packs a high playability rating producing an outstanding mix of power, spin and control.

Playing Standard: Beginner/Casual Enthusiast

Star Endorsement: Novak Djokovic

Buy now £180.00, Tennis Point

Babolat Evo Drive

Weight: 270g

Headsize: 104sq in

String Pattern: 16x17 and Babolat RPM Power 130 strings used at 58lbs tension

Beam: 23-26-23mm

The first thing you might notice about this offering from Babolat is the massive 104sq head. It gives the player the opportunity to slap balls left, right and centre with pure ease. I honestly felt like I couldn’t miss a shot! You’ll hardly notice you racket in your hand either due to its lightweight nature.

The Evo Drive can muster up absolute turbo serves. Monster groundstokes are on also hand, together with explosive spin and the potential to execute that killer slice you desire.

This attractive blue, black and white toned racket has got areal rocket booster feel about it - which is down to the advanced SWX Evo Feel technology (used in the aerospace industry) dampening vibrations in three key areas of the frame.

If you searching for something with power and comfort at an affordable price - this could be right up your street.

Playing Standard: Beginner/Improver

Buy now £127.72, Amazon

Wilson Clash 100 v2

Weight: 295g

Headsize: 100sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and Luxilon Smart 125 strings used at 46lbs tension

Beam: 24.5mm

There has been some positive talk about the Clash in my tennis club recently, so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Here we have the brand’s 2.0 version stealing the show with its fiery metallic red and matt black colourway and embossed logo.

Wilson has also created a dynamite range of special editions in colloboration with Roland Garros, Brazilian Artist Britto and The Minions to name a few.

Essentially, this piece is aimed at the all-rounder. However, there are quite a few advanced players who also adore it.

Once I got to grips with the racket, I could see why. Firstly, it’s well balanced and easy to take a huge cut on the ball without hurting your arm. Some may notice that it has a slightly stiffer feel on rapid groundstrokes than its predecessor.

The large sweetspot is forgiving, yet yealds tremendous potential to put away shots in a blink of an eye. Swatting pretty much every shot in the book can be accompolished with pure enjoyment - even if you are on the back foot.

This awe-inspiring line ranges from a more precise 98sq in headsize through to a whopping 108sq in. So, will naturally attract a wide variety of players.

Playing Standard: All-rounder

Buy now £260.00, Wilson

Babolat Wimbledon Pure Drive Team

Weight: 285g

Headsize: 100sq in

String Pattern: 16x19 and Babolat RPM Soft 125 strings used at 58lbs tension

Beam: 23-26-23mm

This may not have a star player name behind it, but it will sparkle on court and will be a great match for improvers and intermediate players as well as rusty rackets returning to the game.

This modern, ergonomic and nicely balanced number from Babolat is decked out with a luxurious leather grip and the official Wimbledon colour pattern and logo. It’s very swish indeed.

Players wanting all out explosive power, performance and manoeuvrability need look no further. The firm, stable feel of the racket when striking shots will grab you on first swing.

I also revelled in the effortless switching of play from forehand to backhand. Volleying and serves didn’t disappoint either accessing a natural flow to my point play.

The Wimbledon Pure Drive Team will be zippy on the tennis courts and off the shop shelves.

Playing Standard: Improver/Intermediate

Buy now £200.00, Pro Direct Tennis

Yonex EZone 98

Weight: 305g

Headsize: 98sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and Yonex Poly Tour Strike 125 strings used at 53lbs tension

Beam: 23.5-24.5-19.5mm

Having a couple of big names like Osaka and Kyrgios behind the EZone is without a doubt an excellent head start. But will this be the perfect pick in your hands?

To kick off with, the lush angular frame is something to behold - incorporating an aero-shaped tapered design for extra softness and an oval pressed shaft, which increases flex and dwell time on ball impact. We also applauded the ice cool blue finish whilst twiddling and spinning the racket.

During our test drive, we enjoyed this fiesty but friendly character throwing in a catalogue of top spin and slice. Not only that, but experienced a delightful fluidity at the net.

The baseline groundstokes dished out silky smooth shots with an awesome dose of power. Tracking and targeting overheads seemed to be executed well with controlled acceleration.

This range from Yonex is slightly more forgiving than the VCore range and centres on a bit more oomph. Hitters who regard themsleves at the high intermediate and advanced level should size this one up.

Playing Standard: Upper Intermediate/Advanced

Star Endorsement: Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios

Buy now £186.00, Pro Direct Tennis

HEAD Speed MP

Weight: 300g

Headsize: 100sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and HEAD Lynx Tour strings used at 55lbs tension

Beam: 23mm

I have a happy history with HEAD playing with the brand since my 20s (mainly using the Prestige MP). However, I have never got my hands on the Speed range - recommended by Novak Djokovic.

First impression on this spec model was a surprising slight heaviness and it took me a little while to adjust. Once I’d figured out the balance, I started ploughing through my armoury of stinging shots with full commitment and immediately noticed the exceptional crisp response via a long, quick swing path.

The open 16x19 stringbed at 100 sq in delivers magnificient top spin fused with a great peppering of power.

Direct feedback was supreme on accelerating impact, especially when hearing a joyous crack on the strings sweetspot. Likewise, I could get a sense on my touch shots as well as off centre hits - which is all down to their Auxetic technology.

The Speed MP sits smack bang in the middle between harnessing control and power. Players who are in the upper intermediate or advanced category and enjoy chasing down points with high intensity will lap this up.

Playing Standard: Upper Intermediate/Advanced

Star Endorsement: Novak Djokovic

Buy now £185.90, Tennis Point

Tecnifbre Tempo 270

Weight: 270g

Headsize: 100sq in

String pattern: 16x19 and Tecnifibre TGV 135 strings used at 54lbs tension

Beam: 24.2-26-25.4mm

This stylish racket is predominatly aimed at the female player and forms part of a range recommended by Iga Swiatek. It could easily be a unisex option for juniors, new starters and improvers alike.

Most adult rackets tend to be a length of 27in. You can move to a + size (upto 29in) which will offer more on serve and hitting from the back court, but perhaps be a bit trickier to pounce on volleys.

Here, we have a unique 26.5 in version, which can hold it’s on from all areas and be extra agile when moving forwards.

Perfomance-wise, it proved to be real delight, being on balance between delicate and devilish. The open 16x19 string pattern with it’s 100sq in headsize benefits this model with marvellous access to power and spin (without that, I fear a player would need to work really hard of each point). Thankfully, this isn’t the case and you can pep up your skills technically with this compact beauty.

Tecnifibre have quite clearly engineered and mastered a finely tuned choice here, which will appeal to the masses. This model is set for release mid-July 2022, in the meantime check out the 2020 version.

Playing Standard: Beginner/Improver

Star Endorsement: Iga Swiatek

Buy now £128.00, Pro Direct Tennis

Babolat Wimbledon Junior Racket 21in

Weight: 190g

Headsize: 95sq in

String Pattern: 16x9 and Factory strung settings used

The road to SW19 starts here. Babolat’s official Junior 21in Wimbledon racket is best introduction to tennis for kids who are between 105 and 120 cm tall or under eight years old (using a special red sponge or felt ball). It’s just like the real game and gives players opportunities to have long rallies and play different types of shots.

This neatly designed racket has a colourful mix of British racing and lime green and also sports SW19’s legendary The Championships logo that will be an ace gift for a little loved one.

If your children are older, you can snap up bigger sizes (23 in for 6-9 year olds or the 25 in for 9-12 age band).

Adults will also be amazed to know that they can also use this 21in racket with family and friends to play touchtennis. This is a shortened and highly addictive adaptation of the big game that aims for any person of any age and ability to get involved, play anywhere, keep fit and enjoy the action on a compact court.

Playing Standard: Beginner/Red Ball

Buy now £28.00, Wimbledon

Prince ATS Textreme Tour 100

Weight: 310g

Head size: 100sq in

String pattern: 16x19

I always had a sweet spot for Prince ever since the days of Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, Michael Chang, Jennifer Capriati and the Bryan Brothers who trailblazed this brand to the very top. Nowdays, John Isner is probably the biggest ambassador, and with a serve like his, we thought it’s worth checking out.

The brand’s third generation Tour has been given a vibrant makeover with hints of bright orange and green graphics on a black and white block frame.

As far as playability is concerned, it flies through the air with ease and feels at one in your hand. My first few groundstrokes sailed a little long, but with minor adjustment and tuning into some deep cuts on the ball, I began consistently firing heavy spin with depth and velocity out of the hoop. I particulary enjoyed rallying out during this playtest.

Anything on the overhead, be it a smash or serve the racket didn’t hold back and found that I could dial in some truly monsterous point play with accuracy. Volleying felt deft on touch with creative control. When on the slice, it cut through the ball like a sharp knife.

Prince has produced an arm friendly flexible beam here which delivers player comfort. There is an ‘Anti-Torque System’ placed at 10 and two o’clock on the racket head, which improves stability and decreases frame twisting on ball impact.

The ATS Textreme Tour 10 is a trusted companion on court that will play ball with a impressive mix of power, spin, control and comfort.

Playing Standard: Upper Intermediate/Advanced

Buy now £190.00, Pro Direct Tennis

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