Tennis is a wonderful sport to get into but can drive anyone away really quickly when one sees the price of a tennis racket. Don’t let this stop you from playing the game everyone loves!
Major racket manufacturers recognized this problem and have since made plenty of affordable rackets. These rackets are for those who aren’t quite ready to make the commitment to an expensive racket.
This list will provide you with the top 10 budget-friendly rackets and answer the questions you need to know to make the best decision you can. Even though the rackets may be slightly different, they still have a variety of characteristics to breakdown.
Here’s the scoop.
Table of Contents
- 1 This Information Is Important To Know
- 2 The Top 8 Best Affordable Rackets of 2021
- 3 FAQ:
- 3.1 How Do I Know What Type of Racket I Need?
- 3.2 How long will my racket last once I get it?
- 3.3 What if I make the wrong choice of racket?
- 3.4 Does it matter which strings I string my racket with?
- 3.5 How do I know which tension to string my racket at?
- 3.6 What is an overgrip and do I need it?:
- 3.7 How do I know which handle/grip size to choose?
- 3.8 What is the recommended level of stiffness for rackets?
- 4 Conclusion
This Information Is Important To Know
Even if a racket is made with some more affordable materials, they still will have some of the same characteristics their other rackets have, like weight, head size, and more. Knowing what might change how the racket plays is important and are usually an effect of these categories.
Players looking for a little more weight behind the ball will look towards a heavier racket and just the opposite for those who may not need any extra power. Power and shot forgiveness also come from having a good size sweet spot. Most affordable rackets try to prioritize a good sweet spot.
Any player who deals with arm injuries will want to check a racket’s stiffness before purchasing. The stiffer a racket is, the more shock you will send to your arm.
Maneuverability is also important when selecting a racket and often has to do with the weight distribution of a racket. We can get into this in its own category. Typically, affordable rackets tend to be equally distributed.
Affordable rackets you can’t really go wrong when making a choice. However, it’s still important to think about what you may like in a racket and go from there.
Four Types of Rackets
While there are four types of rackets, affordable rackets tend to be the tweener rackets and power rackets. This is because affordable rackets tend to be for beginner tennis players who are just getting into the sport.
The tweener racket is the combo racket that offers the best of everything. It has high playability and maybe a slightly more advanced racket than a power racket.
A power racket is a racket that most likely has a huge sweet spot and a larger head frame. This is great for beginners or amateurs because it makes hitting the ball cleanly each time a lot easier.
The racket’s weight is an important thing to consider when it comes to choosing a racket because it will dramatically affect how you hit the ball. Often the weight for more affordable rackets tends to be lighter because the materials tend to be less dense.
When a racket gets heavier, you can expect these two things.
The first few times you hit with a heavier racket, you can experience poorly timed shots and many mishits. This doesn’t mean the racket is not for you. It just takes some getting used to.
The heavier a racket is, the more stability it will offer. This, in theory, should help anyone who may have arm pain or something similar. The arm pain will not go away when you have poor technique and the racket is too heavy to handle.
Lighter rackets are becoming increasingly popular because of their maneuverability. This comes in handy on the return of serve and volleys.
Tennis rackets generally come between 27 and 29 inches long. This can vary a little bit, and length certainly will affect how the ball is hit.
Here are the four things to consider with length:
- Power increases with the length of the racket because the more ground you cover with a swing.
- Reach is increased as you can cover more distance with a racket that has a few extra inches on it.
- Maneuverability becomes increasingly difficult the longer a racket is, which is why it’s a good idea to stick to the standard lengths.
- Spin increases as power increases because the velocity will increase with the length of the racket.
This is something that someone who is buying an affordable racket will really need to worry about; however, since you may be unfamiliar with tennis rules, check the tip out below.
Rackets for the competition can not exceed 29 inches and are never recommended to be used. Often, they aren’t produced, so it’s not something one should fret about.
Head size is something that will absolutely vary with rackets as there are four main categories. Each category really offers something different, so it’s great to know exactly what to expect when purchasing a racket from one of these categories.
The head size will directly impact the sweet spot of a racket. The sweet spot is the area in the center of the racket that provides the best feel when the ball is hit there.
The head sizes come in four main categories and go as the following:
- Mid-Plus Size
These are the smallest head sizes and typically are not as common in the affordability category. These rackets are common among intermediates and advanced. Having said that, there are some affordable options other there in this category.
The frame itself is 84-97 square inches. This is really small and can cause a lot of mishits. This is less common but has its benefits for those who are well acquainted with the sport.
Moving one size up this may be more common when looking for a racket. This is even commonly used at the highest levels and offers a balance between having something that is oversized and something too small.
This racket frame is generally 98-105 square inches.
Oversized rackets are also common when it comes to affordable rackets. This is because the sweet spots are much larger and offer the best chances for making good contact for tennis players.
With the larger head size, these rackets tend to be lighter in the head as the maneuverability needs to be balanced out.
The dimensions for oversize rackets tend to fall in the 107-115 square inches.
Supersize is generally reserved for those in the latter stages of their career that play doubles and move with less aggression. These rackets may not cover regulation. Nonetheless, it can be a great option for affordable rackets.
Keep in mind that rules state that the racket head size can not exceed 12.5 inches in width and 15.5 for the hitting surface area.
The materials that make up affordable rackets will be vastly different from something made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is the most expensive material from graphite that costs upwards of $229 a racket.
These are the common affordable materials.
Aluminum rackets are typically hollow and come at a very affordable price. This means that it may be slightly less stable due to its weight but can be a great choice for beginner rackets or recreational rackets.
This tends to follow the same qualities as aluminum. Its lightweight material can make for some instability but combined with technology, it can also make a great entry market racket.
Some graphites actually can be quite affordable. There are many graphite grades, and it tends to be a more suitable option for rackets as there is a little more weight behind the racket frame.
The balance of a racket is crucial. More often than not, for entry-level rackets and affordable options, you will have an equally distributed balance or a headlight racket balance. However, it’s important to know all three and the differences between them.
Head Heavy rackets are the less common option of the three because the weight is put at the racket’s head. It’s less common because it becomes harder to move the racket, and this design is geared for more intermediate to advanced players.
Players sometimes go with this choice because it provides more power and less shock to the arm.
Equally distributed rackets are popular because this means that the weight of the racket is completely equal throughout the entire racket. This means the racket will feel exactly how the weight is and offer the best of both worlds.
Head Light rackets are more common for entry-level rackets as well because the weight sits in the handle of the racket. This means that it will be super easy for anyone to move the racket.
The swing weight is how the racket feels in weight as opposed to what the weight actually is. This number is calculated by taking into account the actual weight combined with the weight distribution.
The swing weight for these kinds of rackets tends to be headlight or equal to keep the weight rating from benign too heavy. The heavier a rating is, the more weight will be put in the head of the racket.
The stiffness of a racket will be rated by the manufacturer based on how much the racket will bend backward and forwards when contact is made with the ball. This rating actually varies quite a lot with rackets regardless of how expensive a racket will be.
This is something that a player may feel with the shock and vibration but not something that they will really be able to see otherwise. The stiffer a racket is, the more power a player will get and the more shock they will feel. The absolute opposite can be said for those with rackets that have more flex.
The Top 8 Best Affordable Rackets of 2021
While that may seem like a lot to consider with buying an affordable racket, it’s important to consider these options because rackets can feel quite different once playing with them.
Combing the information listed above with our recommendations below will give you all you need to make the best possible decision when finding an affordable racket.
Regardless of our recommendations, it’s always a great idea to call your local club or get on Tennis Warehouse and demo rackets. Something might seem like a great idea but ultimately not feel right. Demoing can help solve this issue.
1. Wilson Tour Slam
The Wilson Tour Slam can be purchased in green or purple, depending on your style preferences. This racket is often called the racket that can be beaten when it comes to bang for your buck.
This might be because its starting price is as low as around $30 and offers an insane amount of power. This is likely due to its oversized head frame of 112 square inches.
This means the sweet spot is considered to be relatively huge and makes for an incredibly forgiving racket. The balance between appropriate power, control, and spin, is perfect for any player.
Its volcanic frame technology is built into the bridge of the racket to bring some stability to its headlight system.
- Comes prestrung with a racket weight of 10.3 ounces making it an overall lightweight racket.
- Its headlight balance makes it a very maneuverable racket.
- It’s a stiff racket adding to the overall power of the racket.
- The volcanic frame technology provides anti-shock technology reducing possible arm and joint pain.
2. Wilson Envy XP
The Wilson Envy XP is an amazing racket for an amazing price. At around $27, the standard specs emulate the previous Wilson listed above. Its 112 square inch frame offers a big sweet spot and is considered to be very maneuverable despite being oversize in head size.
The impressive power coming from its sweet spot is thanks to the V-Matrix Technology that is meant to release great power with easy control and all-around playability.
It also has to stop shock sleeves that are placed around the strings to further eliminate vibration. This is great for those who are susceptible to arm and joint pain.
What makes this racket slightly different than some of the others is the length at 27.5 inches. The extra inch offers slightly more court coverage and adds to the spin and speed of the ball.
- A lightweight racket coming in at 10.3 ounces of 291 grams.
- The standard grip size is a 2 which is 4 ¼ inches.
- 16 by 19 string pattern.
3. Prince 110 Thunder
The Prince 110 Thunder looks as good as it plays. This beautifully designed racket, priced at around $40, is made of aluminum alloy, making it a lightweight option.
It’s 300 grams in weight, making it slightly heavier than some of the previously listed options. This means its power can be boosted up and stability can be increased.
A standard 27-inch length makes it feel just like any other racket but for a better price. Its grip size is a 2 making it 4 ¼ inches. This is something standard and can’t really be altered.
Its head size still remains large like the others coming in at 110 square inches.
- 110 square inches for a head size offers a great sweet spot.
- The materials of aluminum alloy offer a combination of stiffness and lightweight material.
- 300 grams is the actual weight of the racket giving it a true feel upon contact.
4. Head Ti Conquest
The Head Ti Conquest is one of the most popular choices because it gives off the best impression of one of the more expensive rackets. It is one of the lowest-priced rackets on the market.
Made from durable nano titanium Head says this racket will stay with you for some time, and despite being a headlight and overall a lighter racket, it provides stability with each strike.
It’s one of the lightest rackets out there, coming in at 9.7 ounces which is significantly lower than some of the other rackets packing most of its weight in the handle.
Its standard 27-inch size makes it comparable to some of the other affordable racket choices.
- Head offers 3 grip sizes with this racket making it slightly more customizable.
- Its 108 square inch head size is slightly smaller than some of the other oversized head frames giving it more precision.
- 9.7 frame weight makes it one of the lightest rackets on the market.
5. Wilson Energy Extra Large
The Wilson Energy XL was made with power in mind. This racket sells for around $70, making it one of their more expensive rackets for entry-level. The quality, however, is great, and you can really feel it with each hit.
This racket, in particular, is made from graphite which is the main material used in a lot of regular rackets that have higher price points. It’s still sturdy but lightweight enough to have good maneuverability.
Its V-Matrix technology broadened the sweet spot and made the racket’s overall frame size 112 square inches. It also has a longer length than the standard coming in at 27.5 inches.
It’s lightweight at 10.3 ounces, making it easy to swing around. Its 6 points headlight makes it handle heavy and good for whipping around.
- 112 square inches is a large frame size providing a forgiving hit with its big sweet spot.
- Lightweight and handle heavy coming in at 10.3 ounces and 6 points headlight.
- Made from graphite, making it comparable to other rackets as well as offering a more stable hit.
- 16×19-bed string.
6. Babolat Drive Max 110
The Babolat Drive Max is priced at around $100, and users still say they can feel how similar it is to the original Babolat Drive. Its 110 square inch frame still serves up serious power that’s not to be messed with.
This may also come from the fact that it’s 27.5 inches long and has a swing weight of 302, which is higher than its actual weight of 274 grams. This means that this is our first option being head heavy. It’s two points head heavy, so it’s not extreme but offers more power in exchange for less maneuverability.
It’s a stiff racket rating at 69 made from graphite which is what gives it so much power and a realistic feel.
- 110 square inch frame provides the forgivingness that the stiffness won’t
- Graphite made quality will keep it stable and durable despite a 69 stiffness rating.
- Racket geared for those who have compact short swings.
- 27.5 handle adding a little more reach and power.
7. Wilson Blade Feel Pro
The Wilson Blade Feel Pro models the Blade closely but offers it at a more affordable price of around $75. It has special Arc technology built into the racket to increase its stability and feel. It also offers an increased handle length of 27.25 inches for extra reach, power, and spin.
It’s a mid-plus head with a frame size of 105 square inches. This puts us at the smallest head size yet listed in our top 8 rackets. It also is a lighter racket in general and weighs 9.8 ounces.
It’s made out of aluminum which is a lightweight constructed material often used for entry-level rackets.
- 105 square inch head size makes it a mid-plus size racket offering a little more control.
- The Wilson Blade Feel Pro is lightweight at 9.8 ounces.
- It still offers a good size sweet spot with double hole incorporated technology.
- An added .25 inches to handle, making it 27.25 in length.
8. Babolat Rival Pro 100
The Babolat Rival Pro 100 can be bought for around $80 and has everything you love about Babolat and what they have to offer. This is the smallest of all the headframes we have offered up coming in at 100 square inches.
It’s lightweight and very maneuverable, weighing in at 9.9 ounces. It’s made from a graphite composite, making it sturdy and durable regardless of how light it is.
It offers a size 2 grip and is actually a head-heavy racket meaning that you’ll get more power, but it’s slightly harder to whip around. It’s only two points head heavy, so it’s not a significant impact.
It offers a standard 16 by 19 string pattern.
- The smallest head size yet at 100 square inches pushing closer to the midsize category.
- A head heavy option meaning those who like power and can move it easy will love this racket.
- Weighs 9.9 ounces making it still a lightweight racket.
- Made of graphite which provides a quality feel and stableness.
Even with some of the best rackets out there for an entry price, you still may have some questions. That’s why this FAQ section is here! There is so much to learn about rackets and what makes them different from one another.
Below is the rest of the need-to-know information on tennis rackets.
How Do I Know What Type of Racket I Need?
Picking out a tennis racket for the first time or finding a good entry-level racket can be difficult. The good news is you can’t really go wrong. For the most part, they will stay in the general area of specs, with just a few as listed straying into more specific areas.
Players who have played before will generally know which type of player they are and what racket suits them. For new players, try out a few by demoing them through your local pro shop.
Knowing what the balance, weight, and stiffness are, you can make a better decision on what racket will work for you.
How long will my racket last once I get it?
The USTA has its own recommendations for how long a racket will last. When it comes to entry-level rackets, it really will depend on how often you intend to play with them.
Because they are more budget-friendly, they won’t last as long as some of the other more durable materials. Having said that, they should last at least a year.
If you find yourself quickly wearing them down because you are playing too much, it may be time to consider upgrading to a more expensive racket.
What if I make the wrong choice of racket?
The good news is they don’t cost much. Chances are you aren’t going to make a terrible choice when it comes to rackets. Entry-level rackets typically mean that you are a recreational player and won’t notice the fine tunes that some rackets have to offer.
However, sometimes a racket just doesn’t feel great. This is why it’s a good idea to use demo programs. This will help ensure you like the racket you chose before buying it.
Does it matter which strings I string my racket with?
Most of the rackets you will order will come prestrung. However, choosing your sting can be an important part of your game. The synthetic gut is the most common option for average players as it’s durable and priced well.
For those who like softer strings or need something easier on the arm natural gut is a great choice. This kind of string though can be expensive and break easily and more often.
How do I know which tension to string my racket at?
Many of these rackets will come prestrung. If you have never had your racket strung and you do break the strings of the racket, consider what your power level is and how much control you need.
The higher you string your racket, the more control you will have. The looser you string your racket, the more power you will have. It’s always recommended to start somewhere in the middle, like 55, as the strings will naturally loosen over time.
What is an overgrip and do I need it?:
The overgrip will go over the original handle grip that comes with the racket. An overgrip is always a good idea because it’s easier to change than the actual grip itself. It’s also more affordable as overgrips come at a lower price than original grips.
However, some recreational players that only play every once in a while may not feel the need to have an overgrip. This is ok. It just provides the extra tackiness that the original grip will have when you first play with it.
How do I know which handle/grip size to choose?
Most of these rackets will give you a standard grip without the option to choose between different grip sizes. However, in some cases, you will be able to choose your grip size.
In this case, you can use the following guide to grip sizes:
Handles come in sizes from 0-6 but most commonly 1-4 or 4 ¼, 4 ⅜, 4 ½, and 4 ⅝. It’s a good idea to try different sizes out to see what your hand can grip comfortably without getting too tired.
You can use the ruler test by following the listed steps below:
Step 1: Place all fingers tightly together like you are telling someone to stop.
Step 2: Place a ruler to the horizontal crease all the way up to the tip of your ring finger.
Step 3: This is the size that you should play with.
Or you can use the finger test. This is another option in figuring out what is your best grip size.
What is the recommended level of stiffness for rackets?
The recommended level of stiffness will depend directly on the player. As noted, the stiffer a racket is, the more power it will have. They will also experience more shock to the arm.
Entry-level rackets come in various stiffness levels, but generally, they err on the side of flex for the absolute entry-level and move towards stiff as you up the price. This isn’t necessarily the correlation. The correlation comes from the advancement of the player.
The best budget-friendly rackets can be difficult to find or feel like you are buying something too good to be true. This list breaks down the best rackets out there and has a little something for everyone. While most options stay in the very affordable range, a few are a little more expensive to offer something between entry and intermediate.
Now that you know what your options are and have answered all the important questions when it comes to choosing a racket pick your favorite and go ace ‘em!