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By Charlie Garfinkel

The Christmas and Chanukah seasons are fast approaching. There are many new racket sports-related items that you may be interested in buying for your friends, relatives, or even yourself. Some of these items and their costs follow.

Rackets

Tennis: There are so many rackets on the market that it could be difficult to choose from the many fine models. However, the good news is that the latest models have great playing attributes and are reasonably priced. Therefore, regardless of which rackets you are going to purchase you are virtually assured of getting a quality racket. Some suggestions as to which rackets you may want to buy follow.

Wilson BLX Blade Series: The highly anticipated Wilson BLX Blade Series will be in local facilities this week. The Blade 93s are best suited for high level players who have a fast swing and are looking for a racket with good control and power. The Blade 98s are slightly more powerful than the Blade 93s and are suitable for college level players and other players at that ability level. However, both racquets have good control.

The women’s model is called the Blade 104 and is the racket of choice of Serena and Venus Williams. Due to the success of Serena in singles and doubles and Venus and Serena in doubles this year it is not surprising that it’s a huge hit with the ladies. It is also the lightest and most powerful of the three rackets. All three are in the $180-200 range.

Babolat Aeropro Drive 2013 Series: This is the racket of choice of Rafael Nadal, arguably one of the top five male players of all time. It is no wonder that this racket is one of the most popular on the market. It has an enhanced damping system which allows for better feel without shock with great control. It sells for $200.

Junior Tennis Rackets: A word of caution! If your child is between the ages of 5-10 years old be sure to bring him or her with you when you go to purchase a new racket. If your child has played, be sure to also bring their racket with you to show the sales people. They will determine what is the correct size and handle for your youngster. Buying a junior racket that has the wrong length or grip size could be very detrimental to the success of your youngster. Junior rackets range in size from 21 inches for the smallest pee wees, 23 inches for 5-6 year olds, 25 inches for 7-8 year olds, and 26 inches for 9-10 year olds. Junior rackets may be purchased for as little as $20.00 However, high-end rackets, which are made similar to adult rackets (but with shorter lengths and smaller grips) range in prices up to $100.

Squash: Over the past few years Harrow Rackets has become one of the leaders in the squash market. They have a large line of rackets that have become extremely popular with players of all levels. They sell for between $90-150.

Racquetball: There are still approximately 20-25 racquetball courts in Western New York that are available for play. E Force Racquetball has made huge inroads in WNY and has an outstanding array of frames that feature great power and a damping system. Rackets range in price from $200-240.

Platform Tennis: Platform Tennis has become a great outdoor sport during the winter in our area and is growing by leaps and bounds in the Eastern United States. The primary format in platform tennis is doubles. The game provides a great workout and is a lot of fun for players at all levels. The Platform Tennis paddle is manufactured by Wilson and Viking and is priced from $90-$240.

Other gift choices

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Nike Hats: Due to Federer’s and Nadal’s tremendous careers and unprecedented rivalry these baseball style like hats are extremely popular. The Federer hat has an RF symbol on it and the Nadal Hat has an Rafa Bull symbol on it. The hats sell for $24.

Life is Tennis Jetpacks: The Life is Tennis Jetpacks have become one of the most popular items on the tennis courts. There are many colors and patterns to choose from. Even the most picky person on your gift list will be pleased to receive one of these highly popular gift packs. They sell for $65-80.

Where to Buy: Jb’s Tennis Shop, 5538 Main Street, Williamsville, 631-5703; Miller Tennis Center, 5959 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville, 632-8600 (Ask for Tennis Talk); Village Glen Pro Shop, 162 Mill Street, Williamsville, 633-1635.

email: thegreatgar@verizon.net