Does your current tennis racket look like it’s been on the receiving end of one on court temper tantrum too many?
An upgrade to a modern player’s racket that is lighter, faster and offers a head size between 96 and 106sq in will mean that, before your next match, you can take advantage of the extra power, control and spin that it can lend your game.
Whether you consider yourself to be a beginner or an intermediate player you need a racket that will help you develop your stroke, improve your strengths and minimise those unforced errors that keep costing you points.
The trick to choosing the right racket for you is to analyse your game. Do you have the ability to power your opponent off the court with your shots? Or are you more about touch and control, leaving your opponent stranded with a carefully guided return?
Once you’ve identified what kind of player you are, it’ll make it easier to decide which one of these shot makers is right for you.
To help you choose, we took a pro bag’s worth of rackets on court and tested them against a player with more skill to see how each racket performed from baseline to backhand and whether it could help us take a point or three from them. Here are the shot makers that we think can help you raise your game, set and match.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Babolat pure aero tennis racket: £120, Pro Direct Tennis
Rafa’s manufacturer of choice have produced this racket that offers a player whose game relies on power and spin a chance to really take things to the next level. The materials used in the construction offer a real dampening effect when you strike the ball, which won’t take such a toll on your forearm – a real bonus if you end up in a five set thriller with your club nemesis. However, what makes the Pure Aero such a versatile weapon is that it’s so easy to swing so it can really power up any one’s game – beginner or intermediate.
Head graphene 360 radical S: £153, Pro Direct Tennis
This is a lightweight racket and with its comfortable square grip it’s a good choice if you often end up playing for extended periods over three to five sets. The weight also meant that we found it easier to dig out trickier shots during rallies and swing more aggressively to take control back from an opponent and win points. A good choice for an intermediate player whose game is really progressing and wants to start to work on developing a modern, longer stroke.
ProKennex KI Q+ pro: £144.46, Stringers World
Comfortable to play with and well suited to attacking players who find themselves at the net quite a lot in a match because it’s stable and offers up lots of control. We found that even when facing powerful opponents the racket helped take the sting out of the ball, which meant that we were able to redirect the ball back across the net with good accuracy. Good stability also really helped on serve returns.
Dunlop CX 200 LS: £145, Pro Direct Tennis
This is a real all rounder that’s light with an excellent combination of power and control so that it won’t let you down at the baseline or the net. It came into its own on high air shots like serves and volleys because we found it easy to get the racquet head to the ball with speed and control which gave us more time to target the ball back to difficult areas of the court so that we had our opponent scrambling. This one really did feel like an extension of our arm and for that reason it’s a good choice for an intermediate player whose game is really starting to benefit from more technique.
Volkl V-feel 5 tennis racket: £144.99, Sweatband
We found that the stiffer frame of the Volkl translated into a lot of power on court and the more open string pattern allowed for more string movement on contact which meant that this racquet was set up perfectly for spin. The other advantage of this racquet is that it was well balanced which meant head speed was fast so we were able to get the ball up and down before the baseline with ease, which could be a real advantage if one of your biggest weaknesses is over hitting shots. All of these in-play advantages, lightweight construction and good shock absorption make this an excellent beginner’s choice or an intermediate who wants to amp up the spin in their game.
Wilson clash 100: £159.19, Amazon
For any one with shoulder, elbow or wrist conditions this could be a really good choice because it’s set up to be really easy on the arm so you can play longer matches without it impacting on your performance levels. There are good levels of power and we found that it was easy to direct the ball around the court and give your opponent the runaround, but you won’t lose out on touch shots, at or near the net, like drop shots and volleys. A good choice for intermediates because it will give you the confidence to really start to explore your game and take it to another level.
Head graphene 360 Instinct S: £118.99, Sweatband
We really liked the sweet spot on this racket, which was very easy to hit whether we were serving, volleying or involved in a baseline rally. This is the lightest racket in the Instinct range and over five sets worth of serving we found that it was easy on our shoulder joint and it enabled us to up our first serve success rate during the match. However, even though it’s a light racket we found that it was still really stable, making it good for beginners and intermediates who are starting to lengthen their swing but need help in being able to move the racket around quickly.
Head graphene 360 speed pro: £164, Amazon
Unlike the other rackets in this round up this Head model has a very closed string pattern, which means that every time you thwack a serve or return it hits more strings. That translates into a more stable shot, which gives you more directional control when playing. With this racket Head have also allowed more space between the cross strings so that you can get some good spin out of the racket too. It’s quick to swing through the air so that when trying to deal with tricky passing shots it was easy to get the racket head to the ball and redirect it to the corners.
Wilson milos tour 100: £80, John Lewis & Partners
Another racket that boasted a generous sweet spot and instant playability. Combining this with a real boost in power for those whose ground strokes are lacking a bit or punch and who need to put away that vital first serve more often. The head size meant that the horrible dull thud of ball hitting frame was hardly heard during longer rallies, but it’s that sweet effortless sweet spot that will be a dream for those inspired to pick up a racket for the first time this summer.
Babolat falcon 102: £24.99, John Lewis & Partners
You won’t be able to blast any one off the court with this entry-level racket, however what you lose in power you gain in control making it a good choice for a beginner. It has a lovely feel to it and a large, forgiving sweet spot which does an excellent job of taming wild swings at the ball so that the player can concentrate on becoming comfortable on the court and more confident with each shot.
The verdict: Tennis rackets
The Babolat pure aero offered up a great combination of stability and balance for those who want power and head speed without sacrificing control. It’s a real confidence builder for beginners and intermediate players alike that’s also well set up for attacking the ball at aggressive angles for maximum spin.