A low-impact sport with an even lower barrier of entry, tennis is a great outdoor activity now that the weather’s warmed up. Of course, there’s only one thing you really need — and according to Caitlin Thompson, a co-founder of Racquet magazine and a former tennis coach and Mizzou team alum, now is a good time to shop for a tennis racket. “It’s actually never been a better time to be a beginner tennis player,” Thompson says. “Racket manufacturers have made the rackets a lot more approachable, a lot more affordable, and made for recreational players.” We spoke with eight tennis pros, coaches, and retailers about the best rackets for beginners.
The best “soft” rackets
One of the rackets that Thompson says she would “really, really strongly recommend” is the Wilson Clash 100. It’s a “soft” racket, which means that it’s “a little more flexible in your hands and it doesn’t send shock waves up your arm when you hit, which, for someone who’s starting out, is a nicer feeling than feeling like they’re hitting a ball with a plank of wood.”
Woody Schneider, who has been selling rackets for 40 years and is the co-owner of NYC Racquet Sports, also recommended the Wilson Clash (“It’s being deemed as revolutionary,” he says) as a good beginner racket, but stresses that the goal should be to purchase a racket that will “remain appropriate 5 years, 10 years, 16 years.” He named Wilson, Head, Dunlop, and Babolat as brands with rackets that would carry players from the beginner level through intermediate and beyond. “They’ll have to change the strings and the grip, which is just maintenance, like if you have a car you have to change the oil, but I don’t like to bring people along step by step by step until they finally reach the right racket. I like to do one-and-done, and that should be it.” Two rackets that fit the one-and-done category: the Wilson Burn 100S and the Burn LS. “Now that’s the kind of racket I’d like to see a new player be willing to spend right in that $160 to $180 range on,” Schneider says. “It’s good enough that they’re not going to outgrow it after a couple years. They’ll stay with that racket.”