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Customize these Rackets!

Customization can be the perfect way to turn a good racket into a great one. Here are a few rackets we think will be even better with some love.

Customize these Rackets! Featured Image

Before getting into which rackets are best for customization, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Yes, you can customize any racket, but that doesn’t mean that some won’t perform better with customization than others. Take the Babolat Pure Drive, for example. Stock form is pretty much its optimal weight, balance, and swing weight. It doesn’t need any customization to play as well as it does, but the same isn’t true for many frames.

Three characteristics help make a frame ripe for customization, starting with a constant beam. That’s because rackets with a constant (and usually thin) beam have a consistent flex throughout, which means they will react better to different weight distributions and sweet spot placements.

The second characteristic is a soft flex. Weighting up a soft racket will help to stabilize it. In today’s tennis industry, modern layup technologies are making it so that soft rackets can be remarkably stable even at a low static and swing weight, but adding weight will always help them perform even better against bigger hitters. Stiff rackets can be weighted up as well — it will help make them more comfortable — but they are generally stable enough even at low static and swing weights because of their more unyielding response on contact.

Finally, you’ll notice that no racket on this list weighs more than 305 grams. That’s because lighter rackets are easier to customize since they have more room to add weight before they become too difficult to use. If you try to lead up a Pro Staff 97, you’ll quickly find yourselves hitting the 340s in swing weight and the 350s in strung static weight, which is too high for most people. We’re not all pros, after all!

Also, stay tuned for a little surprise later on in the article. Hint: it’s a pretty cool new gadget.

Wilson Blade 98 16x19 and 18x20

In our article detailing the Wilson lineup, we mentioned that one of the best things about the Blade is just how well it does with customization, especially when you compare it to its heavier sibling, the Pro Staff 97. Considering the above criteria of a thin, constant beam, a soft flex, and a light weight, it has them all, so it is the perfect racket to fiddle with. I’ve always found that a Blade plays better with about ten more grams of static weight.

One of my favourite static weight customization tools is a leather grip. It adds about 8 to 10 grams and provides a firmer and more one-to-one feel than plush, stock replacement grips. Also, because a leather grip adds weight to the handle, it boosts stability more than anything else. It won’t affect swing weight too much, so it’s a great place to start, but I still think the Blade 98 16x19 can do with a bit of a swing weight boost.

Wilson lowered the stock swing weight on the Blade 98 16x19 v8. Raising it to the mid-320s will make it even more competitive, especially against big servers and hard hitters. I would put most of the lead at 12 o’clock because it doesn’t need a bigger sweet spot (which is what 3 and 9 will do), but rather just a boost to power and spin potential.

The 18x20 has a much higher stock swing weight which you need behind that tighter string bed, but it needs the static weight boost, maybe even more than the 16x19. Throw on that leather grip and even more weight if you want. You don’t need to raise the swing weight because it’s already in the high 320s, but if you want to push the mid 330s, a Blade 18x20 always plays incredibly well at that spec.

I don’t want to call either Blade a proper “platform racket” because both do play very well in stock form, but they are fantastic rackets to play around with.


Head Gravity MP 2023

Now if we’re talking about true platform rackets, they don’t come much better than the Gravity MP. Again, it can be played stock, but unlike the Blades, I don’t think the 295-gram weight is enough to be truly competitive at the highest level. You have to bring it up to at least 305, so a leather grip is an easy way to achieve that.

But I wouldn’t necessarily stop there with the Gravity MP. The Gravity line has this particular racket I’ve been using for the last three years, which is unfortunately no longer available in Canada, but it’s the Gravity Tour. Having played with it for so long, I consider myself a bit of a Gravity Tour connoisseur, and I can tell you that it plays incredibly well at 315 grams unstrung. What’s funny about the Gravity Tour and Gravity MP is that they have identical molds with different sting patterns, and I don’t see why a 16x20 needs to be so much lighter than an 18x20.

This is where our cool new gadget comes in; welcome to the brand new Wilson Baiardo Tune Pro diagnostic machine. This machine is unique because it gives all the specs you would expect from a diagnostic machine (and then some), but it also will tell you exactly where to place weight on a frame to match it to another one, so I decided to embark on a journey to turn the Gravity MP into a more spin-friendly version of my perfect Gravity Tour. If you want to see how I did, skip to 05:14 in the video below.



If you didn’t watch the video, I ended up matching the two frames to absolute perfection with the help of that remarkably accurate machine and having played with the Gravity MP at the Tour spec, I can confirm the racket turns into an absolute machine. Stability, plough through, power, and spin are incredible; it’s a slightly more forgiving and spin-friendly version of the Gravity Tour, with a higher launch angle. Give it a go!

Just a quick appreciation post about the Baiardo Tune Pro, though, before we move on. We’re still familiarizing ourselves with its truly revolutionary features, but we’ll keep you updated as we become masters of the machine.

Head Speed MP

The Speed is the first odd one out on this list. Unlike the Gravity and Blade, it has a more modern shape which naturally helps it be more stable in stock form than a classic beam racket. That being said, it is still soft, reasonably thin, and light, so it can do with a bit of weight, especially when you consider how well its bigger sibling, the Speed Pro, plays in stock form.

I don’t think the MP needs to go as high as 315 grams, but I do think at 310, it will be significantly more stable and stand up better against bigger hitters. Add that leather grip (no, I’m not done with them) and maybe even more swing weight because it does come in quite low at 317 strung.

Do be careful when adding lead to the Speed. One major benefit of playing with a Speed MP is how quickly the racket swings through the air; you don’t want to ruin that. Instead of adding lead at 12 o’clock, put it at 6 o’clock. That will have less of an effect on the balance and keep that whippy feel we all love with the Speed (especially when combined with that leather grip. You don’t need to go too high with the swing weight here. It’s a 23-millimetre beam with that modern shape, so it will be plenty powerful and spin-friendly in the low 320s.

Yonex EZONE 98 V8

If the Speed was an odd one out, the EZONE blows most of the criteria out of the water. It has an undulating beam and a fairly stiff flex, but there is a big caveat with the EZONE: its ultra-thin throat. Because the throat is so thin, the racket feels significantly more flexible than its RA suggests, which means that the racket can become way more stable with a bit of weight.

I hate that I’m becoming a meme here, but the EZONE is a 305-gram 98, so a leather grip is just… the thing to do… It’ll boost that stability which is worth whatever cow shortage comes from this article.

Beyond that, the racket has a very low stock swing weight, and because the hoop is so thick, it plays pretty well in stock form (probably the best of any racket on this list), but that doesn’t mean it still won’t respond well with a bit of a boost. Rather than at 6 or 12 o’clock, try putting lead at 3 and 9 or 10 and 2. The EZONE’s isometric head shape makes for a very long sweet spot but not a very wide one, so putting weight at the racket’s wide points will naturally expand it outward, making it slightly more forgiving.

Again, the EZONE is great in stock form, but it’s no secret that this racket becomes a bit of a weapon when you weigh it up to around 315 static and expand that sweet spot. Give it a go; it’s a special combo.

Final Thoughts

We’ve just scratched the surface of tennis racket customization, and really any racket can be touched up for different playability. Still, it’s important to remember that customization can be a great tool, but it won’t be the solution to improving your tennis. Don’t get too lost in its vast ocean because it can take you down a frustratingly endless rabbit hole. 

We consider ourselves some customization wizards at the store, so if you’d like us to work on any of your rackets, stop by, and we would be happy go on a journey with you.

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