Health & Fitness
L.A. Walks: A series exploring the many opportunities for walking in the city
Health & Fitness

Techy tennis rackets

Tungsten. Basalt. Giant holes. "Smart" materials that morph from hard to soft. Tennis rackets, like everything in life, seem to get stranger and techier by the minute — but do they actually make you hit the ball better? We gathered four of the hottest new upper-end models from the biggest brands in the U.S., put them in the hands of enthusiastic players, from college-age to middle-age, and headed to the courts to find out.

Control freak

Babolat Aero Pro Drive: The latest design from this 135-year-old French racket maker features a frame of graphite interlaced with thin threads of tough, strong tungsten and a neck molded in an "aero modular" triangular shape.

Likes: Stiff, balanced racket with excellent control. Several players thought it was especially well-suited for doubles and heavy net play, where control is key. Strong hitters seeking more control liked it best. "I feel very comfortable following through my swing with this. The Prince is more powerful, but I don't need that," one player said. 10.6 ounces unstrung. Head size: 100 square inches.

Dislikes: White handle tape looks dirty all the time.

Price: $189 unstrung. (877) 316-9435; http://www.babalot.com.

Ground and pound

Head YouTech Six-Star: Designed by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, this all-round racket squeezes in another 7 square inches of head size (to 107 square inches) and a larger sweet spot with a unique "quadface" frame that lengthens strings in the four sculpted-out corners of the head. It also utilizes D30, a so-called smart material that supposedly changes behavior on impact — staying soft during slow hits and locking together on hard hits.

Likes: Bulges with power. Quite top-heavy (weighted more to the head than handle), it's a good baseline racket for not-so-strong singles players who dream of being able to stand back and wail. 9 ounces.

Dislikes: Control suffers a bit from lack of "feel," said some. The foam-based D30 material and a unique, built-in dampener may contribute to this.

Price: $250. (800) 289-7366; Head.com.

The hole shebang

Prince EXO 3 White 100 and Black 100: Well-balanced rackets featuring huge O-Tech holes, ½- to ¾-inch wide, that supposedly increase strength, stability and swing speed by eliminating the small drilled string holes that compromise the integrity of the carbon fibers.

It also has subtle grooves and other design elements that purportedly enhance energy transfer, lessen vibration, and aid ball spin and control.

Likes: Good all-round power and control. The heavier black model (10.8 ounces) is better for aggressive baseline pounding.

Not sure if the holes actually make the rackets move any faster through the air, but they are a good conversation piece. 100 square inches; 10.4 ounces (white).

Dislikes: None.

Price: $200, white; $220, black. 800-2-TENNIS; princetennis.com.

Vibration cessation

Wilson Pro Open BLX: The composite frame, slightly larger than that used by Roger Federer, is interwoven with a fine fiber-matrix of basalt, a volcanic rock that supposedly insulates and dampens "bad" vibration while maintaining "good" feedback.

Likes: Good balance of control and power; a similar feel to the Prince. 100-square-inch head (Federer's is 90 square inches). 10.5 ounces.

Dislikes: The basalt may muffle vibration too well for some, hindering control. One player complained of less-than-optimal ball "feel."

Price: $210. (800) 272-6060; http://www.wilson.com.

Wallack is the co-author of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100."

roywallack@aol.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Photo: Ground and pound

    Photo: Ground and pound

    Head YouTech Six-Star: Designed by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, this all-round racket squeezes in another 7 square inches of head size (to 107 square inches) and a larger sweet spot with a unique "quadface" frame that lengthens strings in the four sculpted-out corners of the head.

  • Photo: Vibration cessation

    Photo: Vibration cessation

    Wilson Pro Open BLX: The composite frame, slightly larger than that used by Roger Federer, is interwoven with a fine fiber-matrix of basalt, a volcanic rock that supposedly insulates and dampens "bad" vibration while maintaining "good" feedback.

  • Photo: Control freak

    Photo: Control freak

    Babolat Aero Pro Drive: The latest design from this 135-year-old French racket maker features a frame of graphite interlaced with thin threads of tough, strong tungsten and a neck molded in an "aero modular" triangular shape.

  • The spine gives structure to your life: Keep it fit with good posture

    The spine gives structure to your life: Keep it fit with good posture

    Christiane Carman believed she had good posture. Then one day she woke up with a crick in her neck, a nagging little pain on the left side that didn't go away. Soon it was shooting down her left arm. By the time she landed at UCLA's Spine Clinic, the pain had become her everyday companion. Your...

  • Actor-director Adrian Grenier seeks a lonely whale and a fit lifestyle

    Actor-director Adrian Grenier seeks a lonely whale and a fit lifestyle

    Adrian Grenier's laid-back attitude and leading-man looks made him an ideal fit for the starring role of Vincent Chase, the young actor who strikes box-office gold on the HBO series "Entourage," and on June 3, "Entourage" the movie hits theaters, picking up where the TV series ended. So, does Vince...

  • Try This: A combo exercise that targets the triceps and glutes

    Try This: A combo exercise that targets the triceps and glutes

    Fitness expert Kim Lyons, the founder of Bionic Body in Hermosa Beach, says she's most frequently asked for workouts that will tighten up the back of the arm or the booty. ("And it's not just women who ask.") Today, she shares a gym combo that targets both those notorious trouble spots.

  • How to stay healthy at those grueling music festivals

    How to stay healthy at those grueling music festivals

    Coachella may be a foggy memory, but those who tread the music festival circuit have a busy few months ahead. Notable festivals still to come include Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Outside Lands in San Francisco and Electric Daisy in New York and Las Vegas.

  • 5 key strength-training exercises

    5 key strength-training exercises

    You want to add some strength training but don't want to pay for a trainer or classes. What exercises should you do, how heavy and how much? Answer: Make them functional movements and make them hard. That's what stimulates the body to get stronger.

Comments
Loading