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Pro player racquets – true or false?

Re: subsequent pro racket/string overviews follwong the 2015 Open. It would be counterproductive for you to go to the trouble to research and printout player/racquet “updates.” Why? Well, I too was once a naïve pro gear hound eager to learn which racquet favorite pros were using. However some years ago I became saddened to learn that many pros are using older, often heavily customized racquet molds no longer available at retail. So many companies prepare a “paint job” that on the surface duplicates what one can buy. At least with strings, our “heroes” use the same product as we can buy. Babolat was sued and now in its lame racquet ads offers the disclaimer to the effect “… players pictured may use customized frames or different racquets entirely…” Head is worse yet! And even those that use a somewhat current model often have swingweights substantially higher than stock. Try using a racquet with an enhanced swingweight of 350 to 390 as opposed to the stock SW of 315-325; you’d be lucky to hit groundies past he service line! Not only are swingweights and molds different but the claimed headsize may also be smaller. Yes it is a disgrace and an insult to the fans. So what is served by a list of paintjobs for us to skim?? It is depressing to learn that such “eminences” as Djokovic, Murray, Berdych, Nishikori, Wawrinka among many have used or now use VERY different frames from what one sees on TV or in ads. Without boring you with sad details, suffice it to say that many/most do not use the “revolutionary/amazing new technologies” and lay up materials noted in ads! To his credit Sampras did indeed use a leaded up St. Vincent Pro Staff 85 and never INSULTED his fan base by boldly bringing paint jobs on court to deceive fans. And Federer’s sticks have been rather similar to what is sold off the shelf. I have reduced respect for the myriad of players who dupe fans in this manner.

2 Comments
  • jeffd on September 10, 2015

    Regrettably, you are correct that a number of well-known pros have been provided with racquets that look like the one featured in the manufacturer’s latest ad campaign but, in reality, are very different in terms of build, weight, balance and even material.

    Players get a significant amount of money for playing with a particular racquet. Manufacturers rely heavily on the public’s association of a racquet’s name or model with a favorite player. Many players just want to be like their hero – even if they know deep-down that they can never hope to emulate their ability simply by using the same racquet.

    Any half-sensible pro will want to play with the equipment that will best ensure their success. Is this going to be the racquet that has been specifically designed for the recreational user? Very unlikely..! Their needs are generally very different. Bur, as a result, of the financial incentive, many players go along with the ‘deception’ of appearing to be using the manufacturer’s current, retail model as long as customization to match their real requirements is applied in a back room somewhere. After all, it is reasoned, are people really being misled when they are, in reality, being sold a racquet that is much better suited to their needs than the one the the pro is actually using on the court? Wouldn’t they be harmed by being sold a true replica of the racquet actually being used by their favorite pro? Few of them would actually be able to use it effectively.

    You can choose which side of the fence you want to be on this argument. I know which side I want to be on. A deception is a deception no matter if you have a ‘good’ rationale for the deception. It’s like asking people to donate money to a charity and then keeping 90% of it. Yes, you are providing money to the charity that they wouldn’t otherwise receive but are the donors being cheated? Is the charity being cheated? I think so…

    But, before we get too carried away, I think it is quite legitimate for some customization to be applied to a pro’s racquet that may make it a very different beast than the one sold over the counter. If, as happens in many cases, the racquet that a pro uses is what it appears to be but has been ‘customized’ and tuned to the players particular needs and preferences by attaching lead at various places on the frame or int he grip to re-balance or add weight, then I think this is perfectly ok and there is no deception being carried out. Any recreational player can carry out the same process to make his racquet suit his own requirements. As long as the racquet starts out being what it looks to be, I am fine with surface add-ons.

    Jeff

  • Ron on October 19, 2015

    Its even worse. I ve read a comment from an employee from a string company that they even tailormade strings for some pro’s under contract. So even the strings we buy are probably not the same as the strings the top pros endorse.

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