The 2012 French Open is in full swing right now, with tennis superstars from all over the world converging on Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France for two full weeks of showdowns. For the Adrenalist watching the action unfold at home, the urge to get out on the court is hard to resist.
We fully support you and your imminent tennis addiction. In fact, we’re here to help. Tennis apparel is easy: get some shorts, a polo shirt, a hardy pair of shoes, and perhaps a headband or wristbands and you’re all set. Picking out the right racquet, however, takes a little more thought. You want to get something that is age- and experience level-appropriate, but you also need to consider price and mechanical features.
Whether you are novice or advanced on the court, here are three cutting-edge racquet options you should check out now and in months to come.
Novice tennis players will generally want to go for one of the more lightweight racquets, and preferably one with a larger head and less flex. The lighter weight is important because beginners tend to have a slower swing, and the less mass that you’re swinging around, the quicker your racquet will cut through the air. It’s a similar line of thought for the bigger head and stiffer net; both of these favor the more untrained swings of the amateur tennis enthusiast.
Head‘s Liquidmetal 8 is one of the more popular beginner racquets, and it’s got a very wallet-friendly price tag that hovers around the $80 range. A fully strung Liquidmetal 8 weighs in at slightly more than 10 ounces, which should help newcomers to the sport get some power out of their slower, more untrained swings. It’s a head-heavy racquet thanks to the 112 square inch head – and a solid choice if you’re just starting out.
Babolat Play and Connect
Babolat‘s Play and Connect made its first public appearance at a demo event held during the 2012 French Open. It isn’t on the market yet, but it’s a taste of what the future holds for tennis once you inject some wires and circuits into your game. This technologically advanced racquet is packed with integrated sensors that record all sorts of data, from shot power to the location that the ball makes contact with the racquet. The data is then beamed using a mixture of magic and Wi-Fi signal (minus the magic) to a nearby computer. Software included with the racquet allows a player to log his or her performance over a period of days, weeks and months.
The benefit is pretty self-explanatory: you’re tracking your performance across a wide assortment of categories, and over time you can see how your skills are evolving and get a better sense of what you need to work on.
Babolat expects to have the racquet available for purchase by sometime next year, with a price that hovers around $300, putting it on par with higher-end pro racquets. You’re getting much more than just a tennis racquet here though; you’re also getting a reliable performance tracker.
Babolat AeroPro Drive
The AeroPro Drive is the Babolat racquet you can actually buy now, but note that it isn’t a beginner’s racquet. You should at least have a moderate level of tennis experience before you consider this $189 purchase.
This aerodynamic, medium-weight racquet is the choice of pros: designed to allow both maneuverability and heavy hitting. You can bring strength and spin to strokes and serves as well as swing quickly at the net. The Cortex system filters vibration and GT technology strengthens the frame so your game is smooth and powerful.
That sounds sweet enough to make us want to improve our tennis game.