One of the most significant sources of ideas for blog posts on peRFect Tennis are questions I get from tennis players worldwide via email or in the comments section.
I've been asked several times in recent weeks which I think is the best tennis racket brand on the market.
I've covered what I think about the best tennis rackets in a separate post and why there's no real such thing, but I've never looked at the racket brands individually and who is best or worst.
So this post will take a look at all the major players in the tennis racket sphere and point out what I think they do well, what they do less well and whether you can rank them from best to worst.
Is There Such a Thing as the Best Tennis Racket Brand?
The answer here is no; there's no genuine standout tennis racket brand that's delivering something way above the others. Well, at least I haven't found one.
The truth is that pretty much every racket brand out there make good quality tennis rackets that are virtually indistinguishable from one another in terms of quality.
Each brand has its little quirks and ‘D.N.A.' if you want to use that term with how they've historically made rackets in terms of flex, stiffness, string pattern, weights etc.
Still, no manufacturer has set the bar extremely high, and they all operate with similar quality, each having successes and failures.
The other reason is that there is no standout racket brand is because there are only so many things you can do with a tennis racket, and that's why aside from shinier paints and better cosmetics, there have been very few innovations in the technology used over the last thirty years.
While everyone has their preferences and often only ever buy from one brand, if you were to black out similarly weighted/balanced rackets from Head, Wilson, Volkl and Tecnifibre, it would not be easy to tell them apart.
Or if one brand decided to copy another companies racket mould, separating them would be near impossible.
For example, if Tecnifibre decided to copy the Wilson Blade 98 v8 so that it was identical in shape, grommet holes, beamwidth, and we sprayed both frames black, I think many players would have a hard time knowing which was the original vs the copy.
Do all the companies make their rackets in-house?
While it'd be nice to think that a guy is sitting at a workbench in the Austrian Alps producing Head Gravity Pro rackets, those days are long gone.
Virtually all of the brands I'll talk about today produce their rackets in China. Most manufacturers don't even own the factory that produces their rackets; an O.E.M. churns them out.
Yonex, however, still produce the bulk of their rackets in Japan. Does that give them some advantages? Yes, it does. But does that make them the best overall? For quality control, it does for sure, but overall? It can only ever be a matter of opinion as no amount of quality control will make someone prefer the Isometric head shape if they can't find the sweet spot.
What drives popularity?
So what makes some rackets more popular than others? Big marketing budgets, good marketing campaigns, cosmetics, and being in the right place at the right time is why some manufacturers perform far better with sales volume.
For example, if ProKennex had signed Nadal as a sponsored player in the early 2000s (and he stuck with them throughout his career), they'd be one of the best selling rackets manufacturers right now. Instead, they're a brand that most recreational players will have never even heard of, and instead, Babolat reaps the benefits.
Like the ATP tour, the racket space has a ‘Big 4': Wilson, Head, Babolat, and Yonex. Behind them in no particular order, Dunlop, Tecnifibre, ProKennex, Pacific, Gamma, Toalson, Solinco, Volkl and Prince sit.
Under that, there are some smaller niche brands like Angell, Snauwaert, Zus, Diadem and Heysil.
A Closer Look at the Big Tennis Racket Brands
In this section, I'll look at all the leading racket brands, discuss their offering, what they do well, and less well.
The pros and cons of each manufacturer are my opinions on using their rackets and any other common issues frequently reported amongst other users.
There are a couple of brands on this list that I've never used, so I have left the sections on what they do and don't do well blank pending an update when I hopefully get to try them.
If you have an opinion to share on these racket brands, please level it in the comments.
One of the most recognisable sporting brands in the United States, Wilson started life as a meatpacking firm before transitioning into using animal by-products from its slaughterhouses to make tennis racket strings.
They soon expanded into baseball shoes and tennis rackets and are now the firm we know today that produce baseball, badminton, American football, basketball, fastpitch softball, golf, racketball, soccer, squash, tennis, pickleball and volleyball gear.
Notable Tour Players: Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gael Monfils, Milos Raonic, Serena Williams, Emma Radacanu, Roberto Bautista Agut, Daniel Evans, Grigor Dimitrov, Karen Khachanov.
Popular Rackets: Pro Staff 97, Blade 98 v8, Clash 100
Technologies: Hypercarbon, Hammer, Karophite Black, Kontour Yoke, B.L.X., Amplifeel, Spin Effect Technology (S.E.T.), Parallel Drilling, Braid 45, DirectConnect, Iso-Zorb, Double Hole Technology, Fortfive, 3D Bending
What Wilson Do Well
Wilson makes some of the best-looking tennis rackets out there, and the Pro Staff line has always been one of the most stylish frames on tour.
They also market themselves well and have two of the biggest stars of the last 30 years on their books, with Pete Sampras and Roger Federer helping sell millions of rackets.
I think Wilson's strong suit is they have managed to create an iconic racket and have done an excellent job keeping the Pro Staff relevant from the 1980s to the present day.
When I think of Wilson, I think of heavier, control orientated rackets, which cater well to the higher intermediate and advanced player market.
They have also made one of the innovations in racket technology in recent years with the Clash. The Wilson Clash is a frame that plays like no other out there, and it's one of the few rackets where you can say the ‘technology' is apparent when you play with the racket and just not gimmicky wording.
What Wilson Do Less Well
Wilson's biggest weakness is quality control, and players frequently report weight tolerances that aren't acceptable with rackets 5 to 10 grams over or under the racket's specification.
I've seen this discrepancy first-hand on some previous generation Pro Staff 97 rackets, but on my last two Wilson rackets, the specs have been dead on, so maybe they're improving, or I've just been lucky.
The other Wilson weakness is the quality of their paint. Wilson paints, for some reason, chips very quickly.
Many people think Babolat is a reasonably new company, but they're the oldest on this list, dating back to 1875 when they started making natural gut strings for instruments and racket sports.
However, they are a more recent company, basically coming from nowhere when it comes to rackets.
Since the early 2000s, they have grown to be the number 1 or number 2 racket seller, thanks to Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, and Rafael Nadal.
Notable Tour Players: Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini, Felix Auger Aliassime, Sofia Kenin, Garbine Muguruza, Cam Norrie, Johanna Konta, Andy Roddick, Carlos Moya.
Popular Rackets: Pure Strike, Pro Drive, Pure Aero
Technologies: AeroModular, Babolat Play, Carbon Ply Stabilizer, Cortex, Frame String Interaction, G.T. Technology, Smart Grip, Woofer System, X Sider, Elliptic Geometry, Evo Beam, S.W.X. Pure Feel.
What Babolat Do Well
Aside from marketing and player sponsorships which is their biggest strength, Babolat does have some decent rackets to back it up.
They produce some of the most beginner and spin-friendly rackets out there. The Pure Drive 2021, for example, is a racket that a lot of players can pick up and play with, which makes the brand very accessible for a lot of players.
What Babolat Do Less Well
The only racket I've ever owned that has cracked before is a Babolat one, and for whatever reason, they are the brand whose rackets tend to crack the most. I see the issue time and time again amongst players, especially on the Pure Aero line.
The grommets/head bumper guard on Babolat rackets are also one of the weaker designs out there, and on the Pure Aero the strings are exposed.
Fitting Babolat grommets is also a painful task. They're by far the hardest to fit and require a heat gun plus a ton of patience.
HEAD began manufacturing tennis products in the 1960s and were the first manufacturers of the aluminium tennis frame.
They then produced the first titanium and graphite tennis racket and have sponsored numerous Grand Slam champions, including 20-time winner Novak Djokovic.
Notable Tour Players: Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Maria Sharapova, Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet, Andrey Rublev, Ash Barty, Andy Murray, Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner
Popular Rackets: Gravity, Speed, Prestige, Radical
Technologies: Adaptive Rackets and String Patterns, Flexpoint, Graphene 360+, Liquidmetal, MicroGel, M.X.G., 360 Spin Grommets and YouTek.
What Head Do Well
Of the big four, I rate Head's quality control in second place behind Yonex. They can be hit and miss, but they do a pretty good job for a company that's churning out thousands of rackets.
I'm also a fan of Head's paint quality. In terms of chip resistance and durability, it's one of the best ones out there. The Gravity line, in particular, has an excellent finish to it.
What Head Do Less Well
My biggest gripe with HEAD is naming their rackets and the fact they have too many racket lines.
The naming makes it confusing for customers with many terms like MP, 360, 360+, Tour, Graphene etc., and many of their lines have overlapping specs.
Compare that to Babolat, who has clearly defined spin, power, and control lines, making it much easier for your average customer to pick something that fits into their wheelhouse.
I also think they've moved away from some of their past success and decided to make stiffer rackets in a bid to mirror Babolat's success and/or reduce costs.
This may have helped shift more rackets overall but alienated some of their player base who liked what the Radical and Prestige line historically offered.
Yonex is a Japanese sports equipment manufacturing company specialising in tennis, badminton, golf, and running equipment.
The company first got into the tennis racket world in 1972, and in 1982 Yonex introduced a new oversized tennis racket called the REX-series with the R-7 and R-10 rackets used by Martina Navratilova.
Since then, they've grown in popularity and are used by several touring pros.
Notable Tour Players: Stan Wawrinka, Belinda Bencic, Denis Shapovalov, Nick Kyrgios,
Popular Rackets: EZONE, VCORE, VCORE PRO
Technologies: Isometric, Aero Trench, Liner Tech, NAMD, Micro Offset Layout, New Aero Fin, Hyper M.G., M40X, Namd Graphite, Nanometric, O.P.S., Quake Shut Gel Air, Shockless Grommet System, 3D Vector Shaft, Vibration Dampening Mesh.
What Yonex Do Well
Yonex's great strength is quality control, and amongst the prominent manufacturers, they work within much tighter tolerances.
They also have good quality paint jobs, and I've always found their rackets have a more durable feeling than some other big players.
What Yonex Do Less Well
It is hard to find any significant weaknesses with Yonex.
My one is that I am not a massive fan of the grips on Yonex rackets. The sizing and shape are not to my taste, and quite a few other players feel the same way.
But they do make the best overgrip out there with the Super Grap, which goes some way to removing the problem.
The other bugbear that stops most players from using Yonex is the isometric Head. It's not something I'd describe as Yonex doing poorly, but it's a feature that puts off many players.
Dunlop was founded in 1910 and specialised in rubber products, and in 1924 moved into tennis balls. Rackets naturally followed, and they're best known for producing some of the best wooden rackets of the era, the Dunlop Maxply.
Their success with wooden rackets meant they were slow to adapt to the world of graphite rackets, but post-merger with Srixon, they've released several high-quality frames.
Notable Tour Players: Kevin Anderson, Miomir Kecmanovic, Qiang Wang
Popular Rackets: CX, F.X., S.X.
Technologies: Aero Boost, Aeroskin CX, BioFibre, Blast Zones, Box Frame, Heat Convert, HM6 Carbon, iDapt, MoS2 Grommets, Peak Shifter Frame, Power Grid String Tech, Sonic Core with Infinergy, Spin Boost Grommets, Straight String System, Synchro Charge System, Flex Booster, Sonic Core, Infinergy, Flex Touch Resin, Power Boost Groove
What Dunlop Do Well
Dunlop has a very easy to understand lineup of CX (Control), F.X. (Power) and CX (Spin), which makes it easy for customers to know what they're getting without a ton of other abbreviations or technologies appended onto the names.
My favourite aspect is thanks to the Dunlop FX 500, they have a viable competitor to the Babolat Pure Drive, with a power orientated frame that suits many players, and it's great to play with.
What Dunlop Do Less Well
Over the years, Dunlop has been a bit unreliable due to numerous ownership changes, but since merging with Srixon, that seems to have settled down so you can buy with a bit more confidence.
However, the biggest issue with Dunlop is quality control. It's often said Wilson are the worst here, but I give that mantle to Dunlop, who often produce rackets way off-spec.
A few grams is acceptable, but I know players who get Dunlop frames that can be 15 grams off in static weight and swing weights that are 15 points off. If they can fix that, then they have a decent lineup of rackets.
One of the newest racket brands out there, Tecnifibre, was founded in 1979 and specialised in strings, especially in multifilament, thanks to their PU400 Inside technology.
In 2004 Tecnifibre got serious about rackets launching the T-Fight and T-Flash lines. Since then, they've grown considerably and boast both Daniil Medvedev and Iga Swiatek as their flagship players.
Notable Tour Players: Daniil Medvedev, Iga Swiatek, Jeremy Chardy.
Popular Rackets: TF-X1, TFight, TF40, TRebound
Technologies: Armor Cap Bumper, Dynacore, EZ Lock Eyelet, Synergy Link, Tempo Racket Technology, Velocity Shaft Design, Xtreme Touch Construction.
What Tecnifibre Do Well
With the Tecnifibre TF40 305, I think Tecnifibre have one of the best all-round rackets on the market. It's a great feeling frame that offers precision, comfort and stability in one package.
You struggle to find anyone who has a bad word to say about that frame which is rare.
I also think Tecnifibre cosmetics are some of the best around, and the base colour of white looks fantastic, making them possess one of the best-looking range of rackets out there.
Tecnifibre's paint durability is also excellent.
What Tecnifibre Do Less Well
Flaws? You can't open the butt cap on most Tecnifibre rackets as there is no trapped door.
That means you can only customise by applying lead tape to the handle, so for those who like to tweak specs with putty or silicon, the TF40 is no good here.
Founded in 1970, Prince started life as a tennis ball machine manufacture. After Howard Head, of HEAD fame, joined the company, they launched a range of rackets, making the oversized racket popular and the extended racket used by Michael Chang.
Post-2000, they've had a rather tricky period, filing for bankruptcy in 2014. Still, since restructuring, they've launched several new rackets, distributed solely by Tennis Warehouse, such as the Ripstick, which is extremely fun to play with.
Notable Tour Players: John Isner
Popular Rackets: Vortex, Twistpower, Ripstick, Warrior
Technologies: TeXtreme, Triple Threat with Tungsten EXO3 Grommets, OPorts, Sweet Spot Expansion System, Energy Bridge
What Prince Do Well
Prince's Ripstick is where I think they have done an excellent job in recent years. Not only is it a funky design, but the grommet ports reduce the stiffness and make the racket feel soft for a power tweener type racket.
As a result, this is a racket that a lot of players can pick up and enjoy. I know several players who demoed the Ripstick 100, and nobody had a bad word to say about it. Even flat hitters like myself who found it a bit uncontrollable still had fun with it.
I'd also rate their quality control above average.
What Prince Do Less Well
Since Prince went bankrupt, they're now distributed solely by Tennis Warehouse, which means they're not easy to get hold of outside the U.S.A.
You also can't demo a Prince Racket at your local tennis shop as independents don't carry them.
ProKennex were one of the more prominent racket names during the 1980s, but without the financial resources of brands like Wilson, Babolat and HEAD, they've shrunk considerably and rather than a racket manufacturer, they market themselves as a “science and design company”.
They boast very few players on tour, with Andreas Seppi their most significant name and are best known for their arm friendliness, making them a popular choice amongst senior players and those suffering tennis elbow.
Notable Tour Players: Andreas Seppi
Popular Rackets: Ki, Ki Q, Ace Station
Technologies: Kinetic Quadfocus Technology, Spiraltech carbon, Comfort Cap
What ProKennex Do Well
ProKennex makes the arm friendliest rackets out there, and they've helped players with arm issues get back to playing without pain thanks to their kinetic technology, which takes away the vibration.
Quality control is reasonable, paintwork quality is decent, and in my opinion, they're somewhat of a hidden gem in the racket world.
What ProKennex Do Less Well
For some reason, ProKennex seems to have zero interest in promoting or letting anybody know about their products.
Perhaps they don't want mass-market appeal or don't have the funds, but they need a new website, some better photography and should get the rackets in the hands of some Youtube reviewers to further boost the word of mouth marketing they seem to rely on.
Pacific Tennis isn't a name that too many people are familiar with, but they took over the more recognisable Fischer Tennis, ‘Racket Sports Division', in 2009.
Fischer, who is now solely a ski company, created a range of classic rackets, including the Fischer Pro No. 1, which Yvegniy Kafelnikov used.
Pacific took over, retired the Fischer name and now produce a range of rackets, strings, grips and balls under the Pacific name.
Notable Tour Players: Marcos Baghdatis,
Popular Rackets: X Force Pro No. 1, Nexus, Raptor, X Fast
Technologies: Frequency Tuning, Vacuum Technology, Precision Grip System, Full Acceleration Shaft Technology, Speed-Zone-System, Air Dampening Plus
What Pacific Do Well
Like Yonex, Pacific is known for its quality control. They historically have a ‘Zero tolerance' marker on their expensive frames which guarantees that the static weights are identical, or at worst within 1 or 2 grams.
They make several excellent, old-school flexile rackets like the B.X.T. X Force Pro No.1 Tour Racket and are popular sellers in their domestic German market.
What Pacific Do Less Well
Before writing this, I asked a couple of German readers their thoughts and they both said; Pacific paint isn't the best and chips quite easily.
However, the biggest drawback for anyone wanting to try their frame is they're not easy to get hold of. They're out of the U.S. market and only sold at a select few European retailers.
Formed in 1974, Gamma began life as a string specialist with Gamma Gut as the flagship product but in 1996 launched the Big Bubba racket, which was 32 inches long and 137 inches head size.
The rules changed in 2001 with the I.T.F. ruling that 29 inches was the new maximum legal length which rendered the racket illegal. However, Gamma still produces the R.Z.R. Big Bubba that still has the largest legal head size of 137 square inches and a length of 29 inches.
Notable Tour Players: None
Popular Rackets: R.Z.R. Big Bubba
Technologies: R.Z.R. Advanced Aerodynamics
What Gamma Do Well
Gamma only makes a couple of frames in their lineup, so it's hard to gauge what they do well. But they specialise in the oversize frame market with the R.Z.R. Bubba 137, which is a solid choice for the senior player with shorter and slower swings to generate a good pace on the ball.
What Gamma Do Less Well
Depending on the string you use, when stringing the 137, you will need to buy two sets as the mains take 24 feet of string and the crosses 21 ft of string. Most packs are only 40 feet.
Toalson is a Japanese racket sports company that began life as a string manufacturer for Tennis and badminton.
I wrote about Toalson strings on the blog a while ago and why I think they're some of the best tennis strings out there.
They also do a range of rackets used by several high-level Japanese players, and up until recently, Taro Daniel was also a Toalson sponsored player.
Notable Tour Players: Sven Groeneveld, Bruno Kuzuhara
Popular Rackets: S-Mach, Spoon, PWR
Technologies: High modulus carbon 30T, HEX Torque Frame, Flex Counter Parts
What Toalson Do Well
An update on this is coming soon as I'll be testing some of their frames.
What Toalson Do Less Well
See above 😉
In 2009 Solinco released Tour Bite string, and since then, they've been one of the most popular strings used at the U.S. College level and amongst several ATP and WTA pros, especially the Americans.
They also do a range of rackets and Noah Rubin, along with the Bryan Brothers has been pictured using some of their frames, notably the Whiteout model.
Notable Tour Players: Noah Rubin
Popular Rackets: Shadow, Pro, Tour
Technologies: Liquid Crystal Polymer, Nickel Mesh Technology
What Solinco Do Well
Solinco is one of the few brands with a range of 18 x 20 string pattern rackets, and from players I've spoken to their rackets, they all say the same thing: decent. This means they are comparable to pretty much anything else out there.
I was lucky enough to try a Shadow 305 a couple of years ago, and I thought it was pretty good. Nothing blew me away, but it felt on a par with most other frames in that spec range I'd tried, which goes back to what I said at the beginning of this post, most brands make good tennis rackets.
What Solinco Do Less Well
Overall, in my opinion, the Solinco racket range feels more like a bolt-on area to the business rather than their primary focus, and I've heard a few tales of varying quality. Some players regard them as knock off Babolat rackets.
I'd need to try their latest rackets to say whether that's true, but that leads to the other issue, getting hold of them is not that easy.
Very few retailers stock them, and I don't know if they plan to release more rackets like the Whiteout model that Noah Rubin was testing. Maybe they'll keep it confidential!
Another German company, Volkl, like Fischer and Head, started making ski equipment before branching off into the world of Tennis.
Over the years, players such as Boris Becker, Michael Stich, Sergi Bruguera, Petr Korda and Jana Novotna had great success with Vokl frames, and the brand is still hugely popular at the club level in Germany.
Notable Tour Players: Stefanie Vogele, Liezel Huber, Laura Siegemund
Popular Rackets: V-Cell, V-Feel, Classic
Technologies: Catapult Effect, Optispot, Organix, Powerbridge, Super G, V-Feel, V-Sense, and V-Sponse Bio Sensors
What Volkl Do Well
Volkl makes some of the arm friendliest rackets out there, and the V-CELL 1 is a popular choice for players suffering from arm issues.
Along with Pro Kennex, they're the brand I tell people to look into when they are suffering from tennis elbow.
They also have a bit of a cult following with the Volkl C10, a heavy player frame that plays like a dream if you can handle the weight.
What Volkl Do Less Well
Like a few other brands listed here, Volkl has transitioned from making soft, plush rackets into stiffer frames, alienating some players.
Stiffer rackets are cheaper to produce, so we know why brands do it, and I'm a player who likes more rigid frames, so it doesn't bother me personally.
However, there's a whole army of players out there who love lower stiffness rackets and avoid the entire current Volkl lineup for this reason.
Snauwert was founded by two Belgian brothers-in-law Valler Snauwaert and Eugeen Depla, in 1928 and were used by many pros back in the 1980s, including John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis.
The company went under in 1994 but has risen from the ashes in recent years and now has a range of rackets, strings, balls, and some Padel gear.
Xavier Malisse is their ambassador, and up until recently, Alison Van Uytvanck was using their rackets on the WTA tour.
Notable Tour Players: Alison Van Uytvanck (recently switched to Head)
Popular Rackets: Grinta, Vitas, Caravelle
Technologies: Control ELLIPSE frame, Bionic X Section, S.S.G. (squared grommets) at 3/9, Power Pentagon frame,
What Snauwaert Do Well
I am yet to use a Snauwaert racket, but their specs look exciting, and I like how they write about their rackets on the website. The butt cap design for deciding the coin toss/racket spin is also a nice touch.
What Snauwaert Do Less Well
Hopefully, I will try one of their frames soon and will find out.
Angell is the brainchild of Paul Angell, who worked in the racket industry and was responsible for creating Dunlop Muscle Weave, Hot Melt technology and Slazenger's Pro braided signature.
He then decided to go it alone and formed Angell in 2012, providing an online custom racket configuration tool allowing players to choose their specs and receive an exacting racket.
Founded: 2004 (Angell launched 2012)
Notable Tour Players: Tara Moore
Popular Rackets: Custom, K Series, A.S.L.
Technologies: A.C.F. – High Modulus Carbon and Aramid Fibre, Full Protection Grommets, Micro Braid, High Modulus Carbon construction
What Angell Do Well
Angell's specialism is quality control, and they provide rackets that are dead on the specs quoted requested.
Many players say they're the best rackets they've ever played with, and they are particularly well regarded for arm friendliness due to being foam-filled, which isn't that common on the other brands.
The other positive here is you're dealing with a smaller firm, so receive a more hands-on service if that is the sort of thing you are after.
What Angell Do Less Well
I have only ever hit briefly with an Angell racket, so I'm not best positioned to know their drawbacks first-hand, unlike the other brands on this list.
However, I frequently read the Angell users club on Talk Tennis and in and amongst the cult following of players the brand has created; there are a few complaints that grommets can split easily as they're very soft, especially with stiffer, shaped polyester strings.
So there you have it, a rundown of all the big players, and some smaller ones in the tennis racket industry. All of them make good racquets, all suffer from QC issues to some extent and most of them have a racquet in their lineup that will suit your game.
Who should you buy from? I'd think less about the brand and more about the specs, find the frame that suits your playing style and when you have narrowed it down you can then think about which company to buy from.
Are you missing out by only using the big boy like Wilson and Babolat? Maybe, some of the smaller brands make some solid rackets that perform as well, if not better than some of their more well-known rivals so don't limit yourself to just the racquets you see (or at least think you see) the players using on TV.
Which racket brand is your favourite and why? Do you have any intel on brands manufacturing processes, whether they cut corners or not? Let me know in the comments.