Some players, often taller ones with heavy serves, like to try to finish rallies quickly during their service games by moving to the net and hitting a volley on the third ball. This style, known as ‘serve and volley’ can be very effective on faster courts. We will discuss the tactical aspects of this approach in more detail in another article.
For now, however, I will give you a few suggestions for the best tennis racquet for serve and volley players.
What Makes A Good Serve And Volley Racquet?
Control– You are often going to be faced with powerfully hit, heavily spinning returns if you move to the net frequently. You will therefore need a racquet that can help you to control the ball so that you can place your volleys accurately.
Touch/Feel– It is not just the direction of your volleys that is important, but also their length. You will want to play the occasional drop volley to avoid giving your opponent any rhythm, and, to do this well, you will need a racquet which offers excellent feel.
Manoeuvrability– It is vital that you can get your racquet into position quickly for the first and any subsequent volleys.
The racquets listed below are strong in most of these departments.
Top 8 Racquets For Serve And Volley
1. Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph
Roger Federer is renowned as a skilful exponent of the serve and volley game, so any racquetdesigned to his specifications is likely to be helpful to anyone who wants to attempt to emulate his style. The RF97 is head light, making it extremely manoeuvrable, and offers excellent feel and control. It is a relatively heavy racquet, so if you wish to use it you need to ensure that you are strong enough.
2. Yonex VCORE Pro 97HD 18×20
The Pro 97HD is another head light racquet which is designed for control and feel. Reviewers tend to rate it particularly highly for feel. It offers a Vibration Dampening Mesh in the handle which absorbs vibrations and enhances control. The racquet has a high level of stability which works well for serving. In its 18×20 guise, control is further enhanced and string life is increased. It is available in two weights, so you can choose the one which suits you best.
3. Head Graphene 360+ Gravity Tour
The Gravity Tour is renowned for offering precision and power for serving, alongside excellent control and feel. It has a good level of stability, and a sizeable sweet spot to give you the best chance of a solid strike. Its 18×20 string pattern contributes to enhanced control and extended string life.
4. Babolat Pure Strike 18×20 3rd Gen
Many Babolat racquets are aimed at providing extra power for baseline hitters, but the Pure Strike is a more control-oriented frame. It has a 98 square-inch head and a head light balance. The Pure Strike offers high levels of stability and manoeuvrability to go alongside a respectable level of power. Once again, an 18×20 string pattern contributes to control and excellent string life. If you like the feel of a Babolat frame, but would like to adopt a serve and volley style, at least occasionally, the Pure Strike should be a good choice.
5. Wilson Blade 98 18×20 v7
The Blade is just a few per cent heavier than the Pure Strike, but offers the same head size and degree of head light balance. It offers a respectable amount of power, but really shines in terms of control and feel. As long as you have the strength to wield it comfortably, the Blade could be a good choice.
6. Prince Phantom 100G
The Phantom 100G is very similar in weight to the Blade, but it possesses a slightly larger, 100 square-inch, head and a fairly open 16×18 string pattern. It is intended to offer high levels of control and feel without compromising excessively on power and spin. Nonetheless, it will definitely suit a serve and volley player better than a power baseline hitter.
7. Tecnifibre TF40
The TF40 is another racquet with a very similar weight, head size and balance to the Wilson Blade. It is designed for stability and control, the latter being enhanced by its 18×20 string pattern. The TF40 does not offer as much spin as some options, and a few of the other choices here are more manoeuvrable, but it is still an excellent choice for a serve-volleyer with a reasonable amount of physical strength.
8. Babolat Pure Aero
This may not be an obvious choice for a serve-volley player, as it is certainly primarily aimed at producing effortless power and spin. Nonetheless, the emphasis on power means that it can enhance your serve and potentially force weaker returns, requiring less challenging volleys. The Pure Aero may not be the ideal volleying racquet, but feel and control have been enhanced in comparison to previous versions, and are certainly sufficient for an able net player to work with.
Are Head Light or Head Heavy Racquets good for Serve and Volley?
If your racquet is going to be manoeuvrable, and to have excellent touch/feel characteristics, it will most likely be head light. This means that the balance point is closer to the handle than on many racquets, allowing you to control the movement of the racket head as quickly and easily as possible. Thus, most serve-volley players will prefer a head light racket.
What Racquet Does Cressy Use?
Having looked at some of the best racquet options, some of you will want to know what equipment the ATP Tour’s latest lunging, diving serve and volley sensation, Maxime Cressy uses. Research suggests that he favours the Babolat Pure Aero, so he obviously values the extra power and spin more highly than the enhanced feel of some of the more specialised racquets.
What String Tension Is Best For Serve And Volley?
There is no single answer to this, because different shapes and sizes of racquet frame require very different tensions.
Nonetheless, we can say that a higher string tension will help you to feel more in control of the ball, by virtue of reducing the amount of stretch and contraction of the strings at impact. It may well be worth increasing your string tension by a couple of pounds to gain this additional control, although it may also make you feel that you are losing some power from your groundstrokes.
This issue is not clear-cut, however, as some of the great volleyers like Federer and McEnroe have famously used very low tensions.
We have looked at eight racquets which could suit you if you want to play a predominantly serve and volley style. All offer good levels of control, feel and manoeuvrability. If you get the opportunity, try them all before making your selection.
If you are limited to a small number of demo racquets, try these three best racquets for serve and volley players:
– Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph
The first two are classic serve and volley frames. The third is more power-oriented, but if it’s good enough for Cressy it is certainly worth trying for contrast.
Do you play serve and volley? If so, let us know in the comments which racquet you prefer.
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