Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Should I stay faithful? (Or, "Oh yeah, I play tennis, too—the '08 edition")

We've been together about seven years now, and things are good, but sometimes I can't stop thinking about what things would be like if I were to explore my options, so to speak.

Of course, since this is a tennis blog, you must know I'm talking about my racquet of choice!

I figured while the French Open has been deluged with rain (even though some matches got played: I totally blew it on my Wawrinka-losing call, but did get it sorta right with the Soderling pick, I could take this time to write about a tennis issue all of us players face, namely when to switch racquets. And is it REALLY necessary to do so?

I've only used two frames in the past 16 years: the Prince Graphite II and the Prince Triple Threat Bandit. After using the Graphite II throughout most of the '90s, I felt the game (at least at the level I play, 4.0) was passing me by. It had a pretty thin beam, which was good for control purposes. It was just that people that I was playing with were hitting bigger than me even though we were pretty equal ability-wise. So I decided to go for something with a little more ummph to it and picked the Bandit, which was a slightly thicker frame, but one that still afforded some control. I feel it's definitely helped me, but I've been playing with it for a few years now. I don't have any complaints about it; I just wonder if there's something out there that's truly better or am I being tempted by the technologies that are advertised?

I will say that I'm a Prince guy, having started with Pro-Kennex and then Wilson when I was a kid. Prince has been promoting the "O" feature for a few years now, which I know nothing at all about from a personal experience. I'm pretty lazy about demoing racquets, which I guess would help me decide. I just question the demo concept sometimes because let's say you do try one out: The string tension you might be used to might not work for this new racquet. Then, let's say you pick out a racquet that's supposedly for your playing style. If that frame sucks, do you go back and get another one? Do you get trapped in this endless demo cycle? Admittedly, I did choose ye olde Bandit through demoing it, but I wonder: Did I do it right? Was there another racquet out there better for me and I just subconciously told myself this stick kicked ass so I wouldn't be checking out frames left and right?

I guess I'm asking: Do I really need a new racquet now, or am I just being tempted by Prince's "Show me your 'O' face" campaign? Please feel free to weigh in!


Naf said...

Man, I had the almost same old racquets, and the same angst. I had a Bandit for about two years, but my husband convinced me to switch to the Original Graphite. It took a few years for me to realize that that racquet was too heavy for little old me. I switched to a Prince Thunderlite. I love it! It's changed my game, dude. My husband changed to a O3 White, and those are sweet! I'd think about it if I were you. Later!

Darker Blue said...

I have the same thought a week ago. Since I was a beginner, I bought an oversized racket (prince). It helped me a lot when learning tennis. But now I want a smaller one. Not a necessity, but I like newer rackets too :)

I think it would be good to have at least two good rackets which have different characteristics, so you can play whichever you want according to your mood :))


Shelia said...

I had two old HEAD racquets that I'd had for years. This past Christmas a friend "decided" that I needed new racquets and gave me two of the very Prince "O" racquets that you are considering.

I've only hit the courts once this year and while it definitely felt different, I haven't played enough to know what that difference really means. Given my current game, probably nothing.

van said...

• Hey Naf! Bandit to the old Graphite? That seems like it would be a huge switch to have made; almost like going in the opposite direction. It sounds like the Thunderlite was the right way to go: different than the Bandit and waaay different than the Graphite! I'll definitely think about that 03 White. Those are pretty flexible, right?

• Hey DB! Funny thing about me with oversize racquets: My first racquet when I started playing was a midsize. Then when I got a new racquet for Christmas when I was a teenager, my parents bought me an oversize one by mistake. I figured I'd give it a try, especially since Agassi and Chang were using them, and I just stuck with them. So I've been hitting with bigger frames for 20 years now! Don't give up on it just yet if you like it!

• Hey Sheila! See, that's where my question kind of originates from: Were you comfortable with your older racquets? I guess you'll find the difference as you play more with the new sticks. I think what I might do is go through the summer and fall with my old sticks and decide then. I'm going to play a few USTA tournaments in the months ahead and it might be too late in the season to switch now.

Shelia said...

The bottom-line answer Van, yes. I was indeed comfortable with my old racquets. I wasn't looking to change. I was just "told" that I needed to come into the new, lol.

Listen, when you create your post after you play the USTA events, please do a dual post with me and let me post it too. Or create a separate guest post. As much as I enjoy the flash and style of the pros, I love the non-pro stories too.

van said...

Hey Sheila. I'll definitely do that: They might be short entries, though! I'm not in tournament shape at all: I've just started hitting again after laying off for months due to pretty bad Achilles tendinitis. I'll get back in shape eventually (I hope!)