RACKET REVIEW 2015 by Marcus Cootsona

There are a lot of new tennis rackets available for 2015. They range from high-tech offerings with appealing innovations and build-your-own frames to the latest models endorsed and used by long-admired stars like Federer and dominant players like Djokovic. Power, control, feel and design are all part of a racket’s overall package. Whether you’re an intermediate or gearing up for Wimbledon, here are some front-running candidates for your personal demo day.

ASICS BZ 100

Not only easily wins the best paint job award, but is a great frame. The thin shaft features Bending Zone technology for more flex, while the head is very stiff. Spins the sphere decisively, but plays much smaller than its 100 square inches. Check it out.

BABOLAT Pure Drive

The racket that launched the venerable suture and string company into the racket business and powered the careers of Nadal, Roddick, Clijsters and a whole lot of juniors. The current in-line update still sports a 16×19 string pattern, but is now denser near the top of the hoop for increased spin control. The 2015 version is also more damped for a smoother hit. A fun racket for all playing levels.

DUNLOP iDAPT FORCE 100

What an empowering idea. The inapt is the Build-a-Bear of rackets. You, the user, have the option of three graphic packages, three ways to dampen it, two lengths and six grip sizes. Then you put it together your way. The bright-yellow, 100-square-inch version I tested hit fine accurate spin, but I wanted just a little different feel – no problem, just rebuild it. Try one and build one to your own taste.

GAMMA RZR BUBBA 117

This big (117 square inch), light (8.8 ounce), wider-at-the-tip-than-the-throat matte black implement was a surprise. Used by a smattering of 5.0 and Open players as well as the other 99%, this very agile, oversized racket is solid from everywhere, with control and touch.

HEAD GRAPHENE XT SPEED S

Long, tech-ish name. Great control. Highly maneuverable. The noticeably oval 100-square-inch head provides low vibration with good, just-firm-enough feedback. Light at 10.1 ounces, but still pelts the felt straight and solid, even on slower balls. A fun, agile all-courter from a company that is delivering many a champion, including Djokovic and Sharapova.

PRINCE TOUR 100T

A light racket that plays solidly like a heavy racket. Good all around the rectangle. Control. Power. Just enough harshness, to let you know what you just did, but not so much that you can’t do it again. The orange-on-black graphics are fittingly aggressive from a company that has attracted stars from the young Agassi on through to the Bryan brothers.

VOLKL ORGANIX SUPER G V1 MP

Can anyone really remember that whole name? Does it matter? Just asl for the update of a classic. Simply put, a comfortable mix-plus, all-court frame that any level player can use. Just like it has been since 1994, when it was simply called the V1.

WILSON BURN 100S

BMW always has the 3-series anchoring their vast performance selection. Wilson always has a workmanlike 100-square-incher anchoring theirs. The Burn is just the thing for aggressive baselines, junior or adult, but can be tricky on the soft stuff. No matter. It’s fun. Hits hard. And looks great with bright orange strings. Wilson’s star attraction is the Pro Staff RF 97, developed over a six-month period with the help of Roger Federer, who play-tested the prototypes.

YONEX V CORE TOUR F97

Precise. Truly mid-sized. Heavy. With a 16×21 string pattern, just to make it more demanding. A high-control device for better players. I longed for some of the traditional Yonex flex on this one. But like many of the other frames in this year’s batch, stiff is the new mid-size.

Yes, there are many more rackets than dreamed of in our philosophies. So test-whack some or all of these and then go back to your local store, tell them what you liked and didn’t, and let them guide you further. After all, when all is demoed and done, it’s your choice.

Marcus Cootsona is a teaching professional and author of “Occam’s Racquet – 12 Simple Steps to Smarter Tennis” and the comic tennis novel “Slammin’.” Contact him at marcuscootsona.com.