This blog will be about my developing relationship with my new tennis racket, something all serious tennis players will have experienced before.
Finding the one
When I first decided that I needed to find a new racket to try and enhance my play I felt guilty that I was planning to ditch my trusted racket of 2 years. When you have played with a racket for a while, it seems connected to you and that it is an extension of you when you are playing with it, you build up a relationship and breaking up that relationship is not easy. I can hear it saying, why, what's wrong? Well there was not a lot wrong really, I have just been playing great with in all through the season however I had a feeling that I just needed to try something different to try enhance my game further and to suit my ever changing style and my aging process. Once I had got over the initial guilt and decided to take the plunge and go back into the market, the hard work started.
I started researching about rackets that may suit my style of play and rackets that would help enhance areas I wanted to improve on during the coming year. There were so many choices but finding the right one for me was important so I did not rush it. Each day when I had some spare time I would read reviews on rackets, listen to reviews, further research them. I started to draw a list, some I would simply swipe away, some I would say lets save this and come back and find out more later. After few weeks I had a list, I think I looked at every possible racket out at the time and some up coming ones too. I had to narrow this list down so I can start the demo process. I joined some tennis forums to find out what others who may have played with these rackets thought of them, what their style of play was, their level etc. Did a few more reviews and debating within myself, then I was ready to just demo them. There were 3 that stood out, so I arranged a demo with Tennis Warehouse Europe (which is a great site for rackets, they have always been super helpful and provide lots of information). The final 3 rackets I decided on which I could only demo 2 at a time were the Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph, Head Graphene Touch MXG3 and the Yonex Ezone DR 98+. Once I put in the order, I was checking each day when I got home from work to see if it arrived.
Day the rackets arrived
One day after work when I got home I saw the box with the rackets, I was like a kid in a sweet shop, I was so excited I opened it immediately, there it was a Sleek all black Classy Wilson racket, one that the great man himself uses and the Head racket. Both looked great. I picked them up and started to try to connect to it, feel the weight and compare to my current one. Both felt ok but the real tests is out on the courts. I could not wait to try these out, the first opportunity I had I arranged a hit.
Driving down to Ewell Tennis Club to hit with these rackets, I was super excited. First racket I decided to try was the Wilson racket, I really wanted to like this racket as my favourite player is Mr Federer and this is the racket the great man uses himself. I started slowly hitting some forehands, it felt great and plush and when I connected right, the plow through was amazing. The slice backhand was great too. It felt ok but something was not right, I just could not connect to it completely. As we play more, I started to feel it more, I was mistiming shots more and it began to feel heavier and heavier, the top spin was getting slower and slower. Finally I decided it was not the racket for me, it’s a great racket if the right person uses it but for me it just did not work for long, I could not see how I could play matches with this especially longer matches.
Next up was the new Head MXG3 racket that promises to change the racket industry with its cutting edge technology and design. First impressions, it was lighter for sure and my forehands were good and backhand slice was good too but just not as heavy as the Wilson or my current racket. It was at volleys that it let me down, it did not have enough weight and twisted on me a lot. I really liked this racket and felt with some lead tape it would work for me but again I decided against it. The reason being I did not feel it added anything more than my current racket.
There was one more racket I wanted to try the Yonex Ezone DR 98+, basically its my racket but extended by an extra half an inch. The problem with this one was it was not really sold anywhere in Europe, its only been released in the US. I started to ask around and notice there were some being sold in Europe via personal users. They were snapped up too quick and also much more expensive than the retail price. I really wanted one but there was no way I could get a trial on this. I find out form Yonex they distributed a few to some tennis websites, I quickly went on one, Tennisnuts.com and find it, so there and then I ordered it and bought it. I had not idea if this racket suited me but I had to take the risk and go for it, this is where my relationship with this racket began.
My Yonex DR98+ arrives
Its here, its here I hear myself shouting when the delivery of the racket came. As soon as I opened the box and held it, something felt right, I felt connected and it felt like an extension of my arm however I have yet to hit with it, we were in the middle league games and internal competition games so there was no time to test it really. I decided to leave it in my rackets bag and test it after all these important games.
The first time I played with this racket was actually in a match, we were getting beaten at a very difficult place, I was not playing great so I had nothing to lose therefore I decided to give this racket a go just to mainly change my mental approach. Immediately I started hitting better forehands, volleys were more solid and my serving which had been broken many times started to click and I was holding. We still went on to lose the match however the racket felt great apart from the backhand slice which I could not quite get right. I was impressed with it, it just felt right - I feel a relationship is developing and with work it will get stronger.
The second time I played with it was in the Mens Doubles Finals day at Ewell Tennis Club. It was a tight and high quality match, we won the first set then lost the second set having had many chances. Again I made a snap decision to change racket, in hindsight I think this was a mistake as I was not playing bad and to play a final with a new racket which I have only played one set with before just was not right, but in situations on court you just make a snap decision so that was it. The racket definitely improved my serve however I started to miss a lot of volleys, not sure if it was the extra length or just that I was tired or the opposition was just playing better, probably a combination of everything. However this proved critical and we lost. Have a jumped in too quick and tried to push this relationship on too fast. This made me think about the racket, was it right for me, should I persist or should I go back to my old trusted racket. I decided to keep persisting and give it a second chance.
I would begin to use it in training sessions and slowly my connection and relationship with it developed, it felt better and better and I felt more and more connected as one with it the more I play with it. For sure its given me something extra on serve and reach and also its lighter as I do not have to put lead tape to make it stable on volleys. My volleys have improved ten fold I think and I feel more confident.
The latest match I played with it, against a great team, I played some of my best tennis, forehand were fizzing, backhand slice was working and I began to feel it more so even my drop shots were working out. Volleys were just amazing for me, for sure I played great and this racket has given me the confidence, I am now truly connected to it as it feels like an extension to my arm, sometimes I do not even think I have a racket there I just instinctly play the shots. I will continue to work and build up this budding relationship with my new Yonex DR98+ racket and will keep you updated on any changes.
Have a great time playing all :)
I have now practised with this racket quite a few times and still love it. I feel I am getting more connecting to it and my serve has definitely improved, bit more power. Also now I am fully confident with my forehand to really go for the shots. The only shot I am still not completely dialled in is my backhand slice but even that is getting there. Looking forward to playing my next match with it this coming sunday.