Recreational Racquet Guide

I want to start playing tennis. What racquet should I pick?

The next question you should ask yourself or think about is how often and what kind of tennis you want to play. For example, will you be hitting with your kids a few times a month on the weekends? Will you be playing casually with your family? Are you going to sign up for a six-week-long clinic? Are you taking lessons? Figuring out the intensity and frequency of your playing will influence the answer because tennis racquets, even amongst those designated as “beginner” range a lot in quality and price.

I just want to hit every now and then. Some of my friends play, but very casually.

My kid is getting into tennis and I want to be able to hit with him/her/them.

It’s tempting to go to the store and buy the cheapest racquet on the wall, but these are usually cheaply made with a nice paint job; on the other hand, you don’t necessarily need a super fancy racquet. Prestrung racquets in the $60s and $70s do a nice job of striking the balance between quality and price. We recommend the Babolat Evoke 102 or Babolat Evoke 105, the Head Ti Radical Elite, the Head Geo Speed, and the Wilson Advantage XL.

I hit with my friends about once a month, and I’ve played with a racquet from the store, but want something with a few more bells and whistles, but I still need to keep the price in mind.

That’s great! As you play more often and improve, you should definitely upgrade your equipment to match your ability. Compare this to computers: if you primarily check email and web browse, then you don’t necessarily need a $2,500 machine with several dozen gigabytes of storage, whereas if you’re downloading and managing large amounts of data and programming, you would probably do well to invest in a better machine for ease of labor. We’d recommend the Head Titanium Ti S6, the Dunlop FX Team 285, the Babolat Boost Drive, or the Head MicroGel Radical Oversize; if you’re okay with spending a little bit more, go with the Wilson Blade 101L BLX SE or the Dunlop SX Team 280.

I’m taking a weekly clinic and am about to sign up for lessons. I can hit all the basic strokes, but I don’t think I’m ready to spend $200+ on tennis.

I’ve played on and off for years, so I know how to hit the ball and keep a rally going. I think I’m ready to play more regularly, but definitely as a casual/recreational player.

That’s completely understandable, but if you’re getting into the game, you should definitely get a nice racquet. These racquets fall solidly in the middle of beginner to performance (aka the $200+ racquets) in terms of quality and feel; these mimic a lot of the most popular performance models, so if you fall in love, you can safely upgrade to the comparable performance version. We recommend the Head MicroGel Extreme MP, the Babolat Evo Drive, the Babolat Aero G, the Yonex VCORE Game, the Yonex EZONE Ace, or the Wilson Burn 100 v4.

How do I know when to upgrade my racquet?

This is something that is highly subjective and variable. If you’re taking lessons or in a clinic, you can always ask your pro what they’d recommend. You can also use fellow players as barometers for level of play and the corresponding racquet they use. Ultimately though, it’s a personal decision: if you feel you’re ready to step up your game, then you should go for it! And remember this: tennis is a lifelong sport. Even if you do splurge on a pricier racquet, you can rest assured that you’ll always be able to pick it up again in the future.

For more advice on picking out a racquet, check out