The newest offerings from the racquet manufacturers have something for all types of player, and all styles of play.
By James Martin
HEAD Flexpoint Radical and Flexpoint 6
By now, you’ve probably seen Andre Agassi playing with a new Radical. It’s one of the racquets Head has introduced this spring featuring Flexpoint technology, which consists of holes and dimples in the head, at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, for added control.
How does it work? When you hit the ball with a conventional frame, it flexes at the throat. This causes a loss of power and control, because the ball is leaving the string bed at a slightly askew angle. Head says the Flexpoint technology allows the head to bend on impact in a way that will cup the ball, lessen the throat bend, and increase the accuracy of your shots.
The Head Flexpoint Radical is available in three models, all for strong intermediates and advanced players: an 11-ounce, 98-square-inch mid-plus, an 11-ounce, 107-square-inch oversize (Agassi’s weapon of choice), and a 100-square-inch, 12-ounce Tour edition (which Juan Carlos Ferrero endorses).
“It seems I can stay with the ball longer and through it better,” says Agassi. “When I’m stretched out, I feel like I’m controlling the ball better.”
If the Radical is too heavy for you or your customer, check out the lighter and more user-friendly Flexpoint 6. From the TiS6 to the iS6 to the i.X6, the number 6 has figured prominently in the lexicon of Head. It’s always signified a racquet that’s ideal for “tweeners,” players between intermediate and advanced levels. Ditto the Flexpoint 6 mid-plus. With a 102-square-inch head and medium weight of around 10 ounces, it’s ideal for the majority of players who need an all-purpose stick that’ll give them an excellent blend of power and control with a medium to long swing.
The Flexpoint 6 also comes in an oversize, but “tweeners” beware. With more weight in the head, the oversize is suited to players with short strokes who prioritize power over control. 800-289-7366; head.com.
In standard racquets, tiny voids exist between the carbon fibers, which create stress points and weaken the frame. For the n4, like other Wilson nCode racquets, designers filled those voids by injecting silicon oxide crystals into the frame. The result is a powerful, head-heavy, lightweight racquet in a mid-plus and oversize, both of which are aimed at aggressive baseliners like the pro who plays with the oversize, Venus Williams. 800-272-6060; wilsontennis.com.
Prince O3 Tour and Shark MP LB
You were intrigued by the O3 Red and Silver racquets that came out earlier this year, but disappointed that Prince was waiting until late spring to introduce a third frame for elite players. Well, the wait is over.
Used by Guillermo Coria, the new O3 Tour has the large, grommet-less string holes, dubbed O-Ports, in the head that create a more forgiving string bed with an above-average sweetspot. But perhaps the racquet’s greatest asset is its high degree of maneuverability, thanks to the head-light balance and the O-Ports, which make the frame more aerodynamic. Indeed, although the Tour weighs 11.5 ounces, you’ll swear it feels more like an 11-ounce stick. Advanced all-courters, who swing fast and furious, will find that this racquet helps them impart tons of spin on the ball for heavy topspin drives and acute angled passing shots.
The other new racquet from Prince is the Shark MP LB — as in mid-plus, LongBody. Maria Sharapova helped make the original model popular, but she actually uses an extra-long version like this one, to get more leverage and power on her shots (she hits the ball a ton, if you hadn’t noticed). The Shark also has a modified cushioned handle for vibration dampening, and Sweet Spot Expansion System: larger grommet holes to allow for more string movement, which in turn enlarges the sweetspot. 800-283-6647; princetennis.com.
Dunlop Maxply McEnroe and M-Fil 500
Any racquet with McEnroe’s name should get players’ attention. And, in fact, Dunlop designed this racquet, which is a graphite version of the well-known woody from the early 1980s, for the king of the senior tour. First and foremost, the Maxply McEnroe is a stiff racquet along the lines of the 500G. It has the heavy weight (11-plus ounces) of the 200G, and it features the mid-plus head of the 300G. These attributes create a racquet that’ll appeal to older tournament players, like Mac, searching for a little more pop on their groundstrokes and volleys.
And Dunlop has also added another stick to its M-Fil line. The M-Fil 500 (the M-Fil stands for the multi-filament fibers added to the racquet’s construction to provide more feel) is designed for good club players and juniors seeking a lightweight, powerful racquet. 800-277-8000; dunlopsports.com.
Yonex NSRQ-8, NSRQ-7, and NSRQ-5
It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything from Yonex. But the company has three new models this summer. In each one, designers use ultra-stiff, ultra-light Nano carbon in the throat (for power) and traditional, flexible graphite in the head (for feel). The NSRQ-8 (the NS stands for Nano Speed), with a 110-square-inch head, offers the most power and is for club players. The NSRQ-7, which comes in a very flexible mid-plus and a slightly firmer oversize, will appeal to strong players (we’re thinking juniors) who want something in the 10-ounce range that still packs a decent punch. And then you’ve got the most control-oriented frame of the bunch, the 10.1-ounce NSRQ-5. 310-793-3800; yonex.com.
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