Oversize Wood Racquets

by rod on August 30, 2008

With the development of lighter and stronger frame materials, the size of the racquet head has grown to deliver a string surface area of up to 137sq.in. The reason a larger head area assists is due to the larger sweet spot which can be created making the game far more enjoyable. For those of you who may never have played with a wooden racquet try it some day for fun. You will certainly appreciate the added skill of bygone players who could serve, volley and smash with force not to dissimilar to todays racquets, albeit that modern materials do add power to players in the professional league.

Wooden racquets with larger heads were certainly experimented with.

This photo from Siegfried Kuebler’s book shows Frank Donisthorpe who used this oversized, racquet in Wimbledon in 1921 & 1922. It was 3″ all round larger than a standard racquet and was double strung.Oversize Racquet 1921

Oversize racquets never really caught the public imagination until Howard Head, then working for Prince, made popular the oversized metal Prince Classic.

There were however some attempts to compete against the new materials using wood and wood composites in the 70′s.

Spalding produced a (made in Belgium by Snauwaert) Challenge Cup Pro which was all wood. Prince also produced the highly collectible Prince Woodie 110sq.in racquet which was a wood graphite combination. The photo below shows the differences between these and a standard woodie.

Racquet Comparison










Below is a photo of a recently acquired Gamma Big Bubba 28″ 137 sq.in. which is legal. In the 1990′s makers also began experimenting with SUPER LONG models up to 32″ in length. The ITF was very concerned and in 1997 introduced rules regarding stringing, frame size and length in order to limit design.

It is amazing how the new graphite, titanium type materials allow larger frames with the strength to deliver sweet spots larger than a complete wood racquet. I hope all the young ones out there appreciate how much harder it was to hit and control a ball with a woodie and why many of the strokes seem more like a slice/push since the objective was to swing with the flight of the ball and use more weight transfer for power. This is still true for today but racquet strength allows for shorter swings and flick shots.

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