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Alex Bullock

At the other end of the spectrum is the second type of player. This player generates a lot of power through a long, fast swing, is often quite athletic but mostly just likes to hit the ball hard. An aggressive player like this can generate as much power as they require, so they need a racquet that will help them harness their power and add control to their game. A control-oriented racquet is usually more traditional. It will have a smaller headsize (midplus or smaller), less stiffness (due to either softer materials or a slim profile) and typically be a little heavier in weight. Control oriented racquets don't require the technology found in power racquets and this is reflected in their price tags. Look to pay $150 to $250 CDN for one of these. The third type of player is one that has a good balance of power and control in their game already. This player will look for a moderate, versatile racquet that also offers a good blend of power and control. This type of racquet should provide sufficient power when the player wants to be aggressive and put the ball away, as well as supply adequate power when the player is on the run, or trying to dig out a tough ball in the corners. These types of racquets, sometimes referred to as "tweeners" will set you back $150 to $250 CDN.
Intermediate & Club Level Players
In summary, the 3.5 to 4.5 player should be aware of the following when shopping for new equipment:
1) Power vs Control ratio. These two are always relative. Does the racquet provide both for the way you play?
2) Demo before you buy. Looking again to find that perfect balance of power vs control. Never evaluate racquets based upon which one you won or lost with or which one other's said you played better with. Look for the racquet that feels best to you, the rest will come.
Advanced & Competitive Players
Advanced and competitive players with NTRP ratings of 5.0 to 7.0 are usually well educated about their equipment. They are also highly skilled and mostly very athletic. For these reasons the majority of players in this category will require a control-oriented racquet as described in the previous section. The power vs control ratio explained above is also very important to the advanced player. It is important that the racquet matches the player's style rather than the player adapting to the racquet. Once an advanced player finds the type of racquet they like, they will also need to pay more attention to some subtle issues such as the density of the string pattern, handle shape and matching the weight and balance of multiple racquets as they will likely have two or more of the same model. Racquets will have a variety of string patterns, the closer or denser the strings are the more control a racquet will have. This also deadens the feel of the racquet and prevents the strings from moving, which results in less frequent string breakage. More open string patterns will offer slightly more power and will "bite" the ball better, allowing the player to impart more spin on the ball. More open string patterns are much harder on strings and players will find the need to restring much more often depending on how hard they hit, how much spin they hit and what type of string they like to use. Many players are conscious of grip sizes, but few pay much attention to the actual shape of the handle, despite the dramatic effect this can have on the playability of the racquet. All handles will have eight sides, but some will feel squarer, rectangular, or round depending usually on what brand they are. For example, Wilson and Prince as with most North American manufacturers have a fairly symmetrical, square handle, Head and Volkl as with most European brands tend to have a more rectangular handle shape. Other brands like Yonex, will offer a more round handle shape. Some players will adapt to various different shapes with ease, others will not. This is an important aspect, often overlooked, by competitive players when selecting new equipment. Advanced players will require more than one identical racquet due to frequent wear and tear and regular re-stringing.


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