There comes a time in every tennis player’s life when they realize that they need a new racket. Perhaps the old ones are starting to feel a bit dead, having lost some of their elasticity, or continued scraping on the court has left them looking rather sad. In any event, once you decide that the time has come, the next decision is where to buy the new one from.
Historically, you would have visited a local store, tried out a few of the latest frames, and bought your chosen racket from them. Today, there are many more choices, with numerous excellent online retailers offering a dizzying range of options, and the COVID crisis has tipped the balance in favor of shopping from home. So, where are the best places to buy your rackets from?
Among online retailers, Tennis Warehouse and Tennis Express offer a wide range, along with some great extra features. Walmart caters to the budget end of the market, while the manufacturer’s own websites offer detailed technical advice and options like customization. Local tennis shops can still offer personal advice and a simple demo service.
If you are looking for a website with a big selection of rackets, along with helpful reviews and customer feedback, try Tennis Warehouse. They offer rackets from around 10 different manufacturers, along with buying guides and explanatory videos. Their pricing is competitive, although not always the cheapest.
One of Tennis Warehouse’s big selling points is their provision of extra content for tennis enthusiasts which is rarely found on other retail sites, such as detailed racket reviews based on the views of their own play-testers. Their ‘Talk Tennis’ forum allows registered users to discuss current issues in the game as well as giving each other useful advice on equipment.
On top of all of this, they offer a demo program that allows you to try out up to three rackets for a week, for just the price of postage (plus a returnable deposit).
For beginners and occasional players, the main consideration is often simply pricing. You may want a racket that looks nice and will help you to hit the ball over the net, but have little interest in the latest technology. Equally, you might wish to buy a racket for a child who is taking their first steps in the game. If any of this applies to you, Walmart may be a good option.
On Walmart’s website, they offer a range of largely budget rackets for adults and juniors. Some of these come from external sellers, but they do stock a modest selection themselves. If you want to spend something in the range of $15-30 on your racket, try Walmart.
Racket Brand Websites (Wilson, Babolat, Head)
All of the major brands offer their rackets for sale on their own website. The pricing on these is not always the most competitive, although occasionally you might find an excellent special offer. The sites will be focused heavily on extolling the virtues of their products, and you will have access to plenty of technical information, as well as, in all likelihood, profiles of the professionals who use their equipment.
Most manufacturers’ sites will allow customization, and often feature guides to choosing the right racket. If you are not sure exactly what you want, you may benefit from reading the information on these sites, as they will help you to narrow down your search, although it is probably best not to base your decision on which professionals use a given racket. For one thing, the top pros have their rackets custom made, so they are rarely identical to the ones being offered to the public.
Local Tennis Shops
If you want to take an old-school approach, you will head down to your local store and discuss your needs with one of their (hopefully) expert staff. They should be able to recommend a few rackets which might meet your requirements and will normally allow you to borrow a selection to try out for a few days. If you find something you like, you can return to the store and buy it.
The advantages of using local tennis shops are the fact that you will be given individual expert advice and the ease of obtaining demo rackets. The disadvantages are the inconvenience of having to physically visit the store, and the fact that they have more costs to meet than online retailers, which is normally reflected in their pricing.
Another website selling a wide range of the latest equipment is Tennis Express. In many ways, it is comparable with Tennis Warehouse, and it certainly seems to have a similar pricing structure. Tennis Express stocks rackets from an even wider range of manufacturers, and contains helpful buyer’s guides.
The site also offers demo rackets on a very similar basis to Tennis Warehouse. Tennis Express does not offer the same breadth of reviews and discussion boards as Tennis Warehouse, but if you have a pretty good idea of what you want it remains a good option.
There are many different ways to source your next tennis racket. If you want the cheapest option, Walmart has few rivals. On the other hand, if you want face-to-face advice, you will need to visit your local tennis shop. The manufacturers’ websites are glitzy and informative, but their pricing is not the keenest and they only stock their own products.
Tennis Express and Tennis Warehouse offer a wide range of products and information for the aficionado, with the latter perhaps offering the best unbiased advice from its online community. Whichever option you choose, take advantage of any demo facility to ‘try before you buy’.