The Best Tennis Racquet Brands: Head, Wilson, Or Prince?

Each tennis player has his or her own idea as to what racquet feels better, but there are some key differences in playability among racquet brands, however.

Tennis players and teaching professionals often debate about what is the best tennis racquet brand -- likely to no avail. Arguing politics is easier than determining what tennis racquet reigns supreme.

One thing is for sure: Head, Wilson and Prince are the three leading brands and the most aggressive marketers of their racquets. These companies are constantly at battle to land endorsement deals with professional players and have representatives around the world pushing their racquets to tennis clubs.

Each player has his or her own idea as to what racquet feels better, therefore it is the individual player that will ultimately determine the best racquet brand. There are some key differences, however.

Power

Prince and Head racquets are generally stiffer racquets, which mean players have to take harder swings at the ball in order to generate power. Wilson racquets have more flex, allowing the ball to go deeper in the court with less racquet head speed. Wilson racquets also have denser sting patterns (this basically means there is less space in between strings), which give players more natural slice. The denser string patterns will also soften the hit on the ball, perhaps Wilson's way of compensating for the extra flex. With the looser string patterns, advanced players who hit with more topspin use Prince and Head models more often than Wilson.

Sweet spot

The "sweet spot" is that place on the racquet that gives a player the most feel of spin and power. For a Wilson, the sweet spot matches the shape of the racquet -- it is rounder and lower on the face of the racquet. For a Prince, the sweet spot is dead center and for a Head, the sweet spot is oval and a bit smaller. Wilson racquets have the most give around the sweet spot, with less control. Head and Prince racquets have less give around the sweet spot but players can keep the ball in the court easier.

To volley or not to volley

Prince, Head and Wilson separate themselves by the type of players who have used their racquets. With professional players such as Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg using Wilson frames, the racquet became known as a "volleyer's" racquet or in more extreme cases like Edberg and Sampras, a "serve and volleyer's" racquet. Because of the denser string pattern and the more give around the sweet spot, Wilson frames have always been good for players who like to take short swings at balls and move forward into the court.



Prince racquets are generally more suitable to the player who likes to stand behind the baseline and whack at the ball with big strokes -- making control more important than effortless power.

Head has attempted to reach all types of players with their models but generally plays a bit more like a Prince with even less give around the sweet spot in many cases.

For the novice

Wilson, Head and Prince all market to the novice players. Over the years, their racquets have gotten bigger more powerful and in some cases, scientific. Wilson marketed Hyper Carbon, a super-light and strong form of graphite, as a cutting edge material in many of its racquets. And did this by pointing out that is was a material that had been used by astronauts. Whatever the marketing cause may be, each racquet company has one thing in mind when they make racquets for the novice -- the easier it is to hit the ball, the better the racquet. Therefore, Wilson, Head and Prince each make racquets that vary in flexibility and weight in order to find the right combination. Heads and Wilsons are generally a little bit heavier than Prince, but that rule varies depending on the model.

The Vicious Marketing Cycle

Wilson, Prince and Head have one thing in common: They come out with new models often. The new models in many cases are not very different from past models; just minor changes in the balance of materials head shape and colors. This trend has escalated in recent years. Players used to stick with the same racquet model for years and years -- when racquets were only made out of wood.

Going Shopping?

Every new tennis racquet has the potential to cost more than $250. Prince and Head racquets are generally a bit cheaper than Wilson overall. If the tennis enthusiast can handle not being on the cutting edge and can wait a few months after a new racquet model is released before buying, there are major savings to be had. This practice also allows time to test the racquet model and make sure it is the best suited for the individual.

If There is One Brand that is Better

It would have to be Prince. The factor that separates Prince is that is keeps newer models similar to the older ones more often than Head and Wilson. Head shapes with Prince don't change as drastically, leading to more consistent play among different models. Some times less exciting can still be considered better.

Final Thought

Racquet companies will continue designing their racquets to meet the needs of as many different players as possible. As a result, Wilson, Head and Prince will always have a racquet model that is suitable to most any player, once that player gets used to the new feel of the model. Tennis players beware, however, that it is the "craftsman and not the tools" that determine success.

© High Speed Ventures 2011