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Top 5 Best Tennis Rackets for a One-Handed Backhand

This question has been circulating around our YouTube channel for the past several months, "what are the best rackets for a one-handed backhand"? So why don't we take a look?
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This is going to be a fun article. Why? Because I've been tasked with coming up with the five best rackets for a one-handed backhand, and I don't play with a one-handed backhand.

Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Certainly not.

I spent the last couple of weeks drilling, drilling, and then drilling some more, developing that one-hander, and now, I've come up with the ultimate list. It was tough, and I am happy that I can go back to my two-hander, but I had a great time testing these out because it feels like this shot is a right of passage in tennis. 

Ironically, not having a great one-hander has helped me come up with this top 5. It was pretty easy to figure out what didn't work — the ball just wouldn't go in. There were also two characteristics that stuck out to me as important in making a racket perform well on that wing. 

Stability: Stability is important for any shot in tennis, but it's particularly so for the one-hander because you can't generate the same amount of racket head speed as you can on your forehand, and you can't use your other hand for stability on the backhand. Swinging across the body is difficult, so you have to trust your racket will help you, so it needs to stay rock solid on impact.

Weight is the most efficient way to achieve stability; every racket on this list weighs at least 310 grams.

Headlight Balance: Good stability was important, but it couldn't come at the expense of too much maneuverability, which was a slight issue because those are generally inversely correlated. That said, a racket can still be heavy and maneuverable as long as it has a headlight balance, a small head size, and a thin beam.

That whippy, headlight feel is crucial because it gives more potential for shot variability. With a slow, sluggish racket, you'll get jammed during your swing and more or less forced to block the ball back into play rather than manipulate it in any way to hit with purpose. You always need at least the potential to hit with purpose on either wing because otherwise, you become one-dimensional, and your opponent will target that.

Whippiness give you more control over the racket face which you need to generate power with wrist lag, and especially with generating spin because you can brush up more easily at the top of your stroke.

With those two characteristics, you're on the right path to finding the best racket for a one-hander, so without further ado, let's get into the top 5.


5. Dunlop CX 200 Tour 18x20

The CX 200 Tour has all the specs you would want in an elite one-hander: a 95-square-inch head size, a 20.5-millimetre beam, and a 310-millimetre balance. I also tried the 98-square-inch CX 200, which was good, but its stabilization tech dampened it too much and made it slightly inconsistent.

The Tour's smaller head and 18x20 string pattern make it more solid and consistent and, above all, give it that intangible "feel" factor. Having good feel is key on the one-hander because it's a stroke that involves so much precision that you need your racket to communicate with you when you made good or bad contact. An ambiguous sweet spot is a killer for feel, and that's where the CX 200 Tour has the CX 200 beat.

The CX 200 Tour is also fantastic for slicing, which is essential if you play with a one-hander because the slice is how you can slow down a point when you can't generate a full stroke on your backhand. 18x20s are generally the best here because they have low launch angles so you can hit consistent, piercing slices, and smaller head sizes are also great because you can knife at the ball very efficiently.

The only reason this racket hasn't come in higher on this list is because it doesn't really have one outstanding feature. It's not the most spin-friendly, it's not particularly quick, and it's certainly not the most user-friendly. It's just a really solid, classic racket that will appeal to players wanting the more traditional feel you get with a small head-sized, 18x20 without any extra bells and whistles.

4. Yonex Vcore 95 V7

The Yonex Vcore 95 certainly does have a few bells and whistles. Of course, it is still a 95, so it has that whippy and precise feel, but what sets it apart from the CX is its better variety, especially if you want to add spin to your shot because of its unique beam design and spin technology.

It's the only racket on this list with a non-constant beam, and the beam is designed to be more aerodynamic, which makes it even quicker than your average 95. Despite all that, it's still up there with the best in terms of stability and consistency; perhaps just add a bit of weight at 3 and 9, and you'll be dialled.

Take the rapid, aerodynamic design, add a 16x20 string pattern and spin technology like the Silicone Oil Infused Grommets, and you have the most spin-friendly 95 that I've ever tested. It's a racket that does sacrifice a bit of consistency because it deviates from a traditional design and dense string pattern, but for a modern one-hander, the added spin will probably be more important than that classic feel of something like the CX 200 Tour.

Why is it only in fourth? I'm not the biggest fan of the feel on current Vcores, as I find that the Vibration Dampening Mesh mutes the response a little too much, and feel is so vital on the one-hander. It's definitely the odd one out here, but I couldn't leave it off the list because it demonstrates that a racket can have modern elements while still being great for a classic stroke like the one-hander.

3. Head Prestige Pro Auxetic 2.0

If the Vcore gets knocked for not having the best feel, the Head Prestige Pro certainly doesn't. I would even say it has the best feel of any racket on this list.

As soon as I hit a few good backhands with the Prestige, I got that amazing dopamine hit that told me exactly where to make contact in the string bed to repeat that sensation over and over again. It's interesting because the Prestige has the biggest head size of any racket here, yet its feel, precision, and all those traditional racket "intangibles" are impeccable, and that's thanks to the 20-millimetre beam and 18x20 string pattern.

It does suffer from a bit of that same overly traditional playability I mentioned with the CX 200 Tour, but because it has a bigger head size, it is noticeably more forgiving. The fact that it accomplishes that while also having the best feel of any racket on this list is very impressive, and that's why it comes in higher than the CX.

One slight downside with the Prestige is that it is the most sluggish racket on this list. It weighs 320 grams and does feel clunkier than the 95s and 97s, but it still has such a thin beam that you'll never think of it as "slow." Either way, that slightly less aggressive racket head speed will complement a more classic style.

2. Wilson Pro Staff 97 v14

It was difficult to choose between the Pro Staff 97 and the Prestige, and you can't go wrong with either, but I do think this racket fits the bill for a one-hander just a little bit better.

Before I started my one-handed backhand journey, I thought that the perfect racket would be a constant beamed 97 with a consistent 16x19 string pattern for variety and a relatively stiff flex for responsiveness — the Pro Staff. Especially that stiffer, point-and-shoot style of control, I thought would be important because on a one-hander, you don't want the ball to lose too much energy during pocketing so that you can deflect power more efficiently.

After my play test, I don't think these characteristics are as important as I thought they would be, but I do still think, especially that point and shoot style of flex, complements the one hander very well because it is slightly more responsive. Also, you are able to generate quite a bit more spin with this 16x19 string pattern, which helps when you want to vary your shot selection.

Otherwise, it's about as classic as it gets: 97 square inch head size, 315 gram static weight, 21.5-millimetre constant beam. It's an extremely stable, solid, and consistent racket that achieves all that with very little intrusive technology, so it's a fantastic racket for a one-hander.

1. Yonex Percept 97

On paper, the Yonex Percept 97 is very similar to the Pro Staff. It has the same head size and string pattern, a 21-millimetre beam, and even a similar 64 RA unstrung flex.

You can take most of the positive things I just said about the Pro Staff and transfer them here, but what makes the Percept a little bit better is that it has more modern playability.

The Percept has more tech (Stiff Racket Face Design) and a less boxy, more new-school beam design, so it's much more forgiving and stable at a lower swing weight. I can generate more racket head speed, so I get more spin and power on my one-hander, and the sweet spot feels more like a 98 than a 97, so I don't have to be as perfect every time.

That more forgiving side comes with a tiny sacrifice in feel compared to the Pro Staff, Prestige, or even the CX 200 Tour, but the stabilization tech isn't nearly as intrusive as something like a Blade or even the CX 200 (98).

It really was a joy to hit with the Percept; when a brand can combine good feel, consistency, variety, and user-friendliness all in one racket, they're on to a winner, and that's exactly how I felt hitting one-handed backhands with this thing.

Quickly touching on the Percept 97H: I personally wouldn't use it because it's too heavy for my game, but if you want more stability and are willing to sacrifice maneuverability to get it, it would also be a solid option.

It's important to understand that the most important thing is to pick something stable and maneuverable. These five are great, but the real trick is to find a racket that fits these characteristics, and once you do, you can make anything work.

If you want to demo any of these rackets, you can visit us in-store and talk to our awesome racket technicians or check them out online.

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