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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old Sep 21st, 2014, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Rackets Of Today Vs Rackets Of The 80's?

CURIOUS EVERYONE!.. what does everyone see in comparing today's 21st century technology rackets vs the 80's rackets that evert and navratilova switched too?...

todays' rackets are larger with more head surface, much lighter, etcetera....

what about the strings? and more importantly what about the power difference? what i'm wondering is just how much powerful are today's rackets as opposed to the rackets that evert and navratilova and others in the 80's employed when racket technology first start using graphite and other materials..

in comparing let's say wood rackets to these 80's metal rackets to today's rackets which rackets are "closer" in terms of power and ability?"...

to me wood to today's rackets is like styrofoam to titanium

80's graphite/metal rackets to today's rackets is like wood to steel?

are these apt comparisons?

comments everyone!..
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old Sep 21st, 2014, 11:52 PM
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Re: Rackets Of Today Vs Rackets Of The 80's?

Let's see. I played the late 70's and early 80's with my trusty wood Wilson Jack Kramer Autograph. Then I begged my mom to buy a steel Spalding racquet that I hated. The vibration on that thing was awful. I remember the first racquet that I saved up for was a graphite Wilson Sting. That seemed to suit me for a long time, and there was a noticeable difference from wood.

That is until I started hitting with a Dunlop Max 200 G. That was the first radical difference in my game because of a racquet. I could really drive through my groundstrokes with that sledgehammer. But I was consistently late on my volleys with the heavier racquet, all too often hitting the top of the tape on the net. But when I was stretched, I could snap my wrist for a sharp reply. I think I played with that from about 87 to 92.

I recently hit with a Yonex R 22 like Martina had and a Wilson Pro Staff. I liked thecWilson a lot, and enjoyed the extra weight, though not as weighty as that Dunlop was. But I could tell a big difference from my current Yonex RDi.

The biggest difference is the strings. I play with a lot more spin than I used to because opponents like to eat up my more classic flatter strokes. I have found that you have to fight fire with fire. But I can also hold the ball on my strings longer which I like.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old Sep 22nd, 2014, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Rackets Of Today Vs Rackets Of The 80's?

i STILL use a 80's kennex graphite racket ( i don't think kennex the company even exists anymore?).. it's heavy and stiff but i do like the feeling of being able to (and having to) swing forcefully and thru the ball....

i don't play much anymore but i know the times when i get a hold of today's rackets? i chuckle outloud in amazement of how light they are.. they are like "toy kid rackets" they are so light! i find it hard to believe these are "REAL" rackets that grown ups and the pros play with! light as a feather and i guess super powerful and like slingshots? while i think it would benefit a older player in terms of wear and tear these rackets being so light, i don't know how anyone else plays with them.. i guess it's a huge learning curve....

i will say though that technology has gone in my personal opinion WAAAAAAAAY overboard in the wrong direction.. i was recently watching a high school boy's tennis tournament and i was struck by how AWFUL stroke production was, footwork, etcetera.. but because of the power of the rackets, these players really walloped the ball. so in closing, rackets today made a awful player look good...it's easier now to play the game, but that doesn't mean one can PLAY the game and has TRUE talent...
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old Sep 22nd, 2014, 05:31 PM
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Re: Rackets Of Today Vs Rackets Of The 80's?

My personal anecdote:

I first played with wood and metal frame rackets and didn't care much for it, but in retrospect, that was because the equipment was truly subpar and improperly cared for. Some of the metal rackets we used at school were bent and probably had never been restrung.

When graphite and graphite composite rackets became readily available, tennis became much more fun for me. Of course, this was possibly because I was older and more coordinated and I was playing with my own racket and not something from school or from a family member's garage.

Then, in the course of adult life and other hobbies, I went about eight years without swinging a racket. One day last year, from almost out of nowhere, one of my neighbors asked me if I could help her out because she was just getting into tennis and she was having trouble with several areas. I told her it had been such a long time since I hit that I didn't even know where my racket was, and I probably sucked just as bad as she did. She told me she had two rackets in her car, ready to go, and any pointers would be appreciated, so off we went.

When we got to the court, and I saw her rackets, I had to laugh and say, "Well, there's your problem." One was the $40 Wilson from off the hanger at Walmart, the other was the $20 Wilson from off the hanger at Walmart. Both with "original" string jobs. She asked if they were really that bad, and I told her they were if she was playing against people using $280 rackets and getting them restrung on schedule.

Nonetheless, we began to hit. I chose the $20 Wilson, because then I could always blame the racket. I told her I would need probably 20 to 30 minutes just to find anything close to a swing. After three shots I was hitting balls with high-kicking topspin like Sabatini. I never hit like that before in my life. So I tried to figure out where it was coming from. After a while, it dawned on me that it was the racket and strings -- even this low-end of low-end frame with an off-the-shelf string job was producing topspin that I could never have dreamed of in the 80s and 90s.

We rallied for a little bit, and then it also dawned on me that, while this particular set of rackets was great at generating topspin by default, it takes something else to hit a winner with them. Which makes perfect sense, because those rackets are designed for people who are rank beginners or are not even sure if they want to be rank beginners, so it is quite easy to sustain a rally: very few balls into the net, very few pop flies over the fence, not easy to get it past the other person if he/she has fairly decent mobility. Just the opposite of what it was like learning with the old wood and metal frames. Nor do I have any doubt that today's high-end competitive frames and strings are just as designed to produce power and accuracy and spin.

The next time we went out to hit, I brought my old racket, a Wilson Sting. That Sabatini topspin was gone, and my regular flatter strokes were back. And my neighbor was quite annoyed. The classic amateur play of deep to the ad corner, followed by deep to the deuce corner, followed by hard and flat and angled to the outside corner of the ad service box still works like a charm. "That was too low and passed by me too quick!" she said. "The people you're playing against aren't trying to just keep a rally going!" I said.

FWIW, as an adult I once did the wood racket experiment and was surprised that I could give the ball more of a ride with it than I expected, although it was not as forgiving to shots not hit on the (small) sweet spot as 80s/90s graphite and nothing like today's frames/strings. Your contact point has to be pretty precise with wood.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 2014, 02:35 AM
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Re: Rackets Of Today Vs Rackets Of The 80's?

Perhaps our old friend, Daze will see this and chime in. I remember he played our late buddy, alfajester on clay with a wood racquet only about ten years ago or so. Jeff said that Daze was quite a good player with his trusty wood.

It would probably help us all if we did as Mrs. A did and hit occasionally with wood. The new racquets really spoil you with its large sweet spot.

I've always wanted to hit with the Wilson Ultra II that Hana used but have never had the chance. I check ebay now and then and am amazed that an Ultra II can still fetch $100 or more - used!

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 2014, 09:16 AM
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Re: Rackets Of Today Vs Rackets Of The 80's?

I agree that the metal racquets were terrible in terms of vibration. I just couldn't play with them. I didn't mind the wood racquets- mine was a John Newcombe Slazenger, then I graduated to one of those Dunlop metal frames that Evonne Goolagong played with, which I hated. My first graphite racquet was a Dunlop Max 200G. In hindsight, I think that it was a really heavy racquet. I then went to a Wilson ProStaff like Edberg's in the 90s, which served me well.

I stopped playing for over 10 years, and only started playing again a couple of years ago and have moved onto Yonex. I've got to say that the difference in racquets (and strings) now to even 10-15 years ago is incredible. The frames are a lot lighter, and I'm hitting the ball harder and with more spin (particularly on my serve) in my 40s than I did in my 20s. I've also noticed that I've changed my grip, particularly on my forehand to much more of a western grip.
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