Using the rankings

Overall rankings have been provided because many (if not most) people do not have the patience to consider the criteria rankings, and demand a quick summary answer. The macro criteria (Efficiency, etc.) rankings also are a response to this. The weightings of the evaluation criteria used in the macro criteria are arbitrary, but even some guess is better than none at all. Preferably, the reader will take the time to consider what the evaluation criteria mean and then examine the rankings under them.

Low ranking numbers under the evaluation criteria are good, e.g. 1 is better than 100, just the rankings of tennis players.

If you play against heavy hitters, you will need to pay particular attention to the rankings. Slow recreational players, who mostly bunt, may consider Dexterity the most important criterion for them, but they should also consider safety even with their slow pace. Two overall ranking lists have been provided, one for strong players (experts) and another for weak players. The difference is the inclusion of the Dexterity macro criterion for weak players.

Please note that changing your string and tension can have a significant effect on bounce, as discussed in the Introduction. Fresh strings will make a difference in your game, so before rushing to replace your racquet, consult your stringer. For all of the benchmark conditions, the bounce (coefficient of restitution) of the racquet/ball system was assumed to be 0.85 for all racquets (out of a possible 1). Other factors that affect bounce are head size (big head, more bounce), and possibly flex (stiff, more bounce). These factors were subsumed in the 0.85 assumption.

Other racquet factors that have been left out of the formulas are vibration damping means such as shock absorbing handle devices and the Pro Kennex kinetic system. String devices have no effect on frame vibration. Flex, however, was included as a criterion in the mix of macro criteria because of its effect in mitigating Torque by absorbing some of the bending energy arising from impact. What is calculated is the amount of Shock and Torque produced by the impact, and how well this is dissipated later is not considered. When reliable data is obtained (not just magazine ad claims), perhaps these damping factors can be added.

A uniform dwell time of 4 milliseconds was assumed for all racquets under all benchmark conditions. Some technology, such as the Pro Kennex kinetic system, lengthens dwell time and thus reduces the resultant forces from impact. Until there is some hard data on dwell time, preferably from USRSA, this 4 millisecond assumption must be used for now.

Because tennis elbow depends also on player physique and technique, some critics say there is no value in trying to understand what part the racquet plays. It is undoubtedly true that player factors are important. But it does not necessarily follow that racquet factors are irrelevant. How much weight to give them is up to the reader, but their admissibility into the inquiry should not be an issue. It makes no sense to use a dangerous racquet, even if your technique is impeccable and your conditioning outstanding. Likewise, you should not ignore technique and conditioning just because you have a good racquet.

Another complaint is that the rankings may mislead with spurious accuracy, and therefore it would be better to rank racquets in broad divisions, such as A, B, C, etc. But making the cutoffs in marginal cases leads to equivocations like adding + and - to the letter grades, and so on, so why not stick with the rankings in raw numerical form?

Eventually, I hope that there will be a better evaluation system for tennis racquets and for understanding injuries, but the possibility of such a future enlightenment is no reason to abandon all efforts now to do the best we can with what little we know. Making the best into the enemy of the good is not wise policy.