Does Size Matter?

At the recent Longboat Key Cat II tournament, someone observed that more and more seniors are switching to the oversized/supersized tennis racquets. Why Go Big?

Big Dimensions

While I have just moved down in size from a 110 to a 100 square inch frame (what Hank Irvine calls a “player’s racquet”), most people I know have been playing with something slightly larger: 108, 110, etc.  But the supersized racquets are the maximum size allowed at 137 square inches; and also the maximum length allowed at 29 inches.

So, Why Do It?

Clive Kileff (75s): I found my Big Bubba racket gave me more power on my volleys and at the same time, helped my shoulder.

Jack Lease (85s): I use the Vortex. The racquet has a larger sweet spot that I find very desirable. There is no distress to my elbow.  There is no downside for me. 

Noble Hendrix (75s):

  • I’ve played with several racquets from 96 to now 137 square inch head size and 27 to now 29 inches in length in my short 17-year tennis adventure.
  • Of the racquets that I have tried, the RZR Bubba has continued to feel the best in my hand over the last two years.
  • My hand, wrist, arm and shoulder feel comfortable with it and it continues to deliver good consistency, spin and power.
  • As time passes, I believe that more players will turn to this good racquet.

Bill Simonton (75s):

  • I am using the Gamma RZR 137. It has a narrower frame, compared with most of the other big rackets, such as the weed. Therefore, I feel that it gives you a lot more control on ground strokes.
  • It is obviously great on volleys and overheads.
  • I feel that despite its size I don’t lose a whole lot on my serve although a smaller racket certainly comes through the air more quickly.
  • I compensate by stringing my racket fairly tight, at 60 pounds. Other players string it very loose at 30 to 40 lbs and as a result they hit the ball with a lot of slice or they hit it flat.
  • The other great advantage of a super oversized racket is the fact that during a course of a long match, particularly singles, there is much less of a fatigue factor involved in hitting the ball. I probably hit the ball more cleanly for the first 30 minutes with a more traditional head size racket, but after 30 to 45 minutes it just takes so much more effort to play with a smaller racket that fatigue can set in.
  • I really believe that any over 70 player who is not using the gamma 137 racquet is losing 10 to 15% of his or her potential.

The Case for the Smaller Size

Here are thoughts on the other side of the issue from former tour player (and my sometimes doubles partner) Hank Irvine:

“Oversize racquets have become the norm for senior tennis players. In many cases, these racquets are a huge advantage for these players who may be compromised by the aging process – slower movement, poorer eyesight, loss of power and strength, slower reflexes, limited flexibility and restricted reach.

“However, I believe that if you are still in pretty good shape and have good ‘hands’ you will be better off using a player’s racquet – smaller head size and slightly heavier – to maximize your tennis skills. Ball control is the key ingredient to be successful in senior tennis and I firmly believe that it is easier to accomplish this by using a player’s racquet.”

What kind of game do you want to play? It seems to me, if you want to go out there to get the ball back in play and outlast your opponent from the baseline, then the big racquet is right.  But if you want to take the offense (and you still have the hand skills), then using a smaller racquet is better.

What are YOUR thoughts on the size of the racquet?

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

6 thoughts on “Does Size Matter?

  1. I play with the Wilson Clash Tour 100 inch head size. The expression that comes to mind for me in discussing head size of rackets is “It ain’t the arrow, it’s the Indian” Play with what feels right!

    Jim, the exact racquet i am now using! thanks, george

  2. I played a few years with the RZR Bubba, but as I started hitting heavier topspin, the strings moved around a lot. Then I switched to the Head MXG 3, and it plays very well. I tried the Wilson Clash (terrible), and recently moved to the Head Radical PWR with a 110” head size, and I like it. Unlike the others that are head light, this one is even, and provides a lot (too much?) power. It’s taking some getting used to.

    Bob, good history! thanks for sharing. george

  3. At last someone takes us seriously! I have the mickey taken out of me, and get accused of cheating, when using my 120″ Prince Premier, but I always play my best game when using a large head racket. The fact it is also light (255gm) and with a size 1 handle makes everyone think I stole it from a woman (I am 6′ 1″, 98kg). What’s so wrong with having a large sweet spot, getting the ball back in play every time, and being able to volley better in mid-court??

    Andy, the answer is… if it works for you, it is right for you! Thanks. George

  4. I am about to turn 70 and love to play singles but play a lot of doubles, mostly for financial reasons. I’m currently playing with a medium weight 100 sq inch racquet. Would love to try the Gamma 117 or 137, but can’t find an online retailer who offers these as a demo. Don’t want to make a $200 mistake. Do you know of an online source for Gamma demos? Thanks, woz.

    Woz, i checked tennisexpress.com and while they offer demos, they don’t show Gamma. Do you have any friends using either of your choices that you could borrow from them? george

  5. Unfortunately not. I did play against a senior a while back on his way to nationals who used the Gamma 117. It felt great in the hand, and I loved the narrow beam, but didn’t get a chance to hit with it. He highly recommended it.

  6. Tennis Warehouse has the Gamma RZR Bubba racket as a demo. If you demo it and then buy one you save $25.00.

    Lonnie, thanks! george

Comments are closed.