The adventure of finding 2 matching racquets

I've always been tempted to play with Wilson Six.One Tour BLX (supposedly "Roger Federer's racquet"). The frame has always felt great in my hand and I know that it'll allow me to pull off every shot in my skill set. I also like the thin beam and the even string spacing in the sweet spot, in contrast to some other racquets on the market today.

So far, I've never been able to get it enough power and comfort with this racquet. I made the same observation with the BLX version, despite many players stating that it feels more dampened than its predecessors.

Well, it looks like all my string testing over the last few years is finally starting to pay off. I found the WeissCANNON Silverstring very comfortable and playable at low tensions. I strung up a demo @ 44/42 lbs / 20/19 kps (yep!) for a good combo of power and comfort, and had a couple of hits with it that I really enjoyed. Not quite perfect yet, but definitely close and tweakable.

The demo I had was also a tad too head-heavy for me, with a 322 mm balance point. So I think it's time to buy a pair and give it a shot!

From Strings

As I pointed out earlier though, finding 2 matching frames is not trivial, yet quite important. I haven't seen a shop yet that proactively matches frames, so you have to take the first step. Very few stores have scales, even fewer have balance boards, and I have only seen one store that had a swing weight machine (and that was in Germany!). 

So you're on your own, and best to bring your own equipment. You can obviously ask one of the major online stores to match it for you, but I'd rather set my own min / max limits and have a little more control over what I'm choosing. I went out today to find a matching pair of Wilson BLX Six.One Tours. Armed with my digital kitchen scale and Viper balance board, I was hoping to find a match that I'd be comfortable with. I already expected that I wouldn't find a perfect match, so I was aiming to find 2 frames that were pretty close, and on the lighter and more headlight end. 

The thinking behind that is that it's always easier to add weight than remove it, and to do so in the head. If a racquet is too light and headlight, you can just add some lead tape to the racquet head. If the racquet is too head-heavy, you have to mess with grip which is usually more tricky, plus it increases the overall weight. 

So I went and measured 8 frames in total. Since I didn't want to over-annoy the respective sales reps, I started measuring with cardboard and plastic wrap attached to see if I could find any that were close. As a second step, I would take the close ones and remove the cardboard for a more exact measure.

The card board and the rubber bands usually weigh around 14 grams, not too much tolerance there. The plastic wrap around the handle plus the price tag should also be fairly consistent around 2 grams. To reduce the error a bit further, I did try to center the card board on the frames before taking the measures. 

In the first store, I measured 3 frames, and all turned out too different: weight ranged from 355 to 360 grams (which is not too bad), however balance ranged from 305 to 320 mm - completely different racquets! The heaviest racquet at 360 grams was also the least headlight, at 320 mm. On the one hand, that makes it quite easy to add some lead to another frame to match it. But for my personal taste that'll make the racquets feel too heavy to swing (= swing weight too high). So no luck here. 

In the second store, I measured 5 frames. Weight was in a pretty ok range again between 355 and 360. Judging from this limited sample of 8, Wilson's quality control seems to be ok with a 5 gram range. But the spread in balance was again quite wide, ranging from 311 to 322 mm. 

I did find 2 frames that were promising with the cardboard on. Once I took it off, the weight was off by the same amount (~ 1 gram), however one balanced at 303 and the other at 308 mm. Somewhat close, but I thought I'd regret giving up too early. So for now, the search continues. Wish me luck!