The mid-18th century saw the invention of tennis rackets. Although they didn’t use rackets, the French monks invented a game that is similar to tennis. The monks first batted the tennis ball back and forth over what appeared to be a net with their bare hands, but later on, they put on leather gloves.
The monks decided to convert to paddles after they started getting injuries from practicing with their hands. Players first used paddles made of solid wood, but in the fourteenth century, they switched to what is today known as a racket.
Although ash was initially the primary material used to make racket frames due to its good specific strength, durability, and ability to be bent into the desired shape, it was soon realized that metal tubing could also be used for the purpose. However, tight strings and the jagged edges of the gaps drilled in the tubing did not mix well.
Metal frames needed to wait till this was resolved and, more crucially, until better metal alloys were created. This was not an issue with hardwood frames.
Major Walter C. Wingfield created the first tennis racket in London in 1874. This racket could take a lot of punishment because it was big, hefty, and constructed of solid wood. The adoption of wooden rackets for lawn tennis coincided with the sport’s rise in prominence during the mid-19th century. Wide-headed wooden rackets were produced during this time period to aid in the manipulation of the ball; however, they were also quite hefty.
But because they were adaptable, everyone who ultimately participated had an even playing field. The wooden racket was essentially unchanged for approximately ninety-five years. With the exception of laminated wood rackets, which gained traction in 1947 and fundamentally altered the way many players played the game.
In the wooden racket business, Slazenger, Dunlop, Spalding, and Wilson held a dominant position. Due to their enormous, well-established brands and lack of innovation, the majority of the other competitors went extinct during this period. During this time period, the Dunlop Maxply Fort and the Wilson Jack Kramer were the two most significant tennis rackets.
Throughout the century, when wooden rackets were in use, metal rackets made repeated unsuccessful attempts to become more and more popular. Although they have existed since 1888, metal rackets were never very popular. But Jimmy Connors utilized a now-famous steel racquet in the 1970s, proving exactly how much more potent metal racquets might be than wooden ones.
The overwhelming triumph of Connors over Ken Rosewell demonstrated the success of the metal racquet market. Compared to the wooden heads that were customarily employed in the preceding century, the heads were twice as large.
René Lacoste created and patented the first metal tennis racket for his own usage in 1957, marking the beginning of metal rackets. In 1968, the metal racket made its debut in a Wilson catalog after the renowned tennis racket manufacturer Wilson eventually acquired the rights to it.
In particular, glass fiber and the recently created carbon fiber (often referred to as “graphite” in the sports business) were experimented with following the acknowledged success of metal rackets in the early 1970s. Carbon fiber was picked even though it was quite pricey because it presented tremendous opportunities for future racket frame development because of its better particular stiffness and strength—it was actually many times stronger than steel.
Because fibrous materials have unidirectional strength characteristics by nature, they must be employed in a way that makes the most of them. Alternatively, fiber tows can be woven into a fabric and then impregnated with a thermo-setting “epoxy” resin, or fiber tows can be coated with such a resin and aligned to produce a “warp sheet,” where the resin keeps the tows together in a sheet shape. Then, in order to offer subsequent multi-directional tension qualities, many sheets of the infused fabric and/or warp sheet—now referred to as a “composite material”—are placed together with their thread orientations slanted.
modern tennis rackets
The material of racquets hasn’t altered all that much since graphite was introduced. Every racket has a small amount of graphite to provide strength, flexibility, and stability.
To determine if the racket gets better, some businesses have experimented with adding materials like titanium and Kevlar. Nothing about how racquets are constructed has altered drastically up until now. The main distinction between graphite and Kevlar is that the former is stiffer, lighter, and more readily transfers vibrations. On the other hand, novices discover that both titanium and Kevlar tennis rackets are demanding on the arms and challenging to manage over time.
Types of Tennis Rackets
The majority of tennis rackets made today have distinct specifications and are intended for particular uses. Next, we’ll go over these various racket kinds in a bit more detail.
Tennis Rackets for control
These rackets are meant for more skilled players and are typically trickier to operate, but if you get a grasp of them, they may be quite useful. They are smaller than the heads of tennis rackets and have thin sides. When it comes to tennis rackets, this provides the maximum amount of control.
Tennis Rackets for Power
Power rackets come in an enormous assortment. In addition to variations in size, head shape, weight, and vibration-damping levels, they can also differ in composition. Large sweet spots and overall great versatility characterize these rackets.
Rackets for average power and control
There are tennis rackets with average power and control that fall in between the two extremes described above. Because they provide a balance between power and control, these rackets are perfect for novices. Today, every tennis racket manufacturer has a model that falls into this category, and they all differ in terms of size and cost.
The dimensions of the racket over time
Observing the size of tennis rackets change throughout time is fascinating because it exhibits several fluctuations and is still changing today. While some players may choose heavier and more powerful tennis rackets, most players have a wider head and a light, sloping frame.
The typical wooden racket had a square measurement of 67 inches. For a considerable amount of time, this was the standard until the 1971s, when Howard Head made the first huge racket, measuring an astonishing 100 square inches, popular. It was, and still is, an enormous racket for its day.
It was not, however, the first to go the enormous route; in 1976, an American tennis company by the name of Weed produced the first large alloy tennis racket. This scam was not particularly successful and failed to make history.