By Charlie Garfinkel
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
The holiday season is an excellent time to purchase a racket-related sports item for a family member, relative, or friend. You may even want to purchase a racket sports item for yourself. Or, in a subtle way, you could drop a hint to a family member or friend about a particular racket item you may like for Christmas or Hanukkah. The following should be helpful in making the proper gift selection.
Tennis Racquets: Head Graphene Radical Racquets are a tribute to one of the greatest ground strokers in the history of tennis. You would be correct if you guessed it was Andre Agassi. The Agassi rackets are more colorful looking than the originals and have more options. Each of the three different versions have different weight and power levels that will match most playing styles, be it control or power. The rackets sell for $189.
Wilson has three new rackets out this year. The Five 103 is extremely powerful. However, because of Wilson’s Triad technology the possibilities of getting tennis elbow are slim. The Steam 99LS racket is a lighter and more maneuverable racket than last year’s Steam 99 racket.
If you are a player who likes to create a lot of spin on the ball, the Six One 958 is a high level racket that is designed to provide more spin than other rackets you may have used. These are proving to be very popular and are in the price range of $180-220.
The Babolat Aeropro Drive 2013 is one of the hottest selling on the market. The reason is because of the player who uses the racket in all of his tournaments. That would be Rafael Nadal, the number one ranked player in the world. The racket has an enhanced damping system that allows for better feel and less shock. This is extremely important in preventing tennis elbow.
Babolat will also be putting out a new racket called the Pure Strike in 2014. Both rackets cost about $200.
Junior Rackets: I still remember Jimmy Arias at the age of seven using a racket whose grip was so big he could barely control his racket. Junior players of today don’t have those problems anymore due to technology that gives all junior players the proper sized racket to use. Junior rackets range in size from 21 inches for the tennis peewees, 23 inches for 5-6 year-olds, 25 inches for 7-8-year olds and 26 inches for 9 and 10-year-olds.
Junior rackets have also become more sophisticated with high-end frames. They are similar to adult players rackets. The main difference is that junior rackets are made with shorter lengths and smaller grips than the adult rackets. The rackets range from $20-100.
Note: Before you purchase a racket, be sure that you play test at least two or three rackets that you are interested in. This will greatly help you in purchasing the correct racket for yourself. Once you have chosen a racket that you wish to purchase, you would be wise to buy a similar racket that is unstrung. A strung racket may have lost some of its resiliency due to long shelf life. Unstrung rackets are strung with fresh strings that will prove to be more resilient and easier to hit with.
Tennis Footwear: Adidas Barricade 8 is the tennis shoe for the serious tennis player who is looking for durability and court feel. The Barricade 8 is available for both men and women at the cost of $130.
Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour are arguably one of the most comfortable pair of sneakers that you can purchase. The sneaker has an ultra-soft midsole and upper part that allows the sneaker to breathe like no other sneakers on the market. They are available for both men and women for $130.
Prince T-22 is an extremely popular tennis shoe that’s very durable and comfortable for the player who enjoys playing on hard courts. This is the perfect time to purchase these tennis shoes as most players play on hard courts during the winter. The sneakers sell for $90.
Racquetball: Ektelon has been the leader in the racketball industry for many years. This year’s extremely powerful ESP RG Toron is named after Ruben Gonzalez, a former world No. 1 player and one of the most magnificent athletes ever, regardless of the sport.
This year, at the age of 60, Gonzalez was ranked for a short period of time at number 12 in the world on the men’s pro tour. Incredible, but true. The racket sells for $229.
Head and EForce are two other racketball brands that are extremely popular throughout the country. Both companies have a great new line of rackets for 2014. The rackets range in price from $70-220. Indoor sneakers for racketball range in price from $80-100.
Squash: Squash is becoming more popular in the WNY area due to some outstanding junior programs and coaches.
Dunlop and Head squash rackets, shoes, and accessories, are extremely popular in our area. The aforementioned range in price from $90-150.
Racquetball and Squash Protective EyeWear: It continues to amaze me at how many players play racquetball or squash without wearing eye guards. Most racquetball facilities won’t let you step on the court if you don’t have protective shatter-proof eyewear. Squash players are especially negligent about not wearing eyewear.
Unfortunately, in all of the years that I have played both sports I have witnessed horrific accidents, including one player being hit in the eye (not wearing eye guards) and eventually losing his eyesight. Be smart. Wear eye guards. You may purchase a pair of Head Raptor Eye Guards that are stylish and shatter proof for $24.95.
Platform Tennis: Like squash, platform tennis is becoming increasing more popular in WNY. The game is played outdoors on an enclosed court of chicken wire. The game is played all year around and is extremely popular during the winter. It’s mostly doubles and provides a great workout.
Wilson and Viking paddles are available in the price range of $100-170.
Pickleball: This game is one of the fastest growing racket sports in the United States. The sport is easy to learn and provides a great amount of fun. There is a great selection of paddles to choose from at a price range from $65 to $90.
Most of the aforementioned may be purchased at JB’s Tennis Shop, 5538 Main St. Williamsville, 631-5703; or Miller Tennis Center, 5959 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville, 632-8600.