Tennisopolis : Tennis Social Network

I started playing tennis in 1970 with a no name brand aluminum racquet. The metal racquet back then were very poor quality. You could bend then with your bare hands, I'm surprised you could hit tennis balls with them. I went through about 3 of these aluminum racquets until my Junior year in High School. It was then that I got my first real tennis racquet, a Spalding Smasher aluminum racquet. My Senior year I got another racquet, a Head Master with the blue throat piece. Going out for the College team I switched to wood racquets. I started using a Wilson Jack Kramer Pro Staff. I used those for about 2 years and then when I went away to another college I changed to the Wilson Stan Smith Autograph. That lasted only one year and then I went back to aluminum with the Yonex YY7500 yellow OPS (Oval Pressed Shaft) frame. These were great racquets and I had about 3 of them, one was a 4 5/8 grip size which I didn't like. After college I played a lot of tournaments and went on the USTA Satellite Tour. I like Yonex but I switched to wood again. I started playing the Yonex Cougass. The Cougass was a very flexible wood racquet without any fiberglass reinforcing in the frame. Good thing I had an agreement with Yonex to buy racquets from them at cost, because I broke quite a few of this sticks. The wood Yonex was dumped in 6 months in favor of the Yonex Carbonex 8. A fiberglass graphite racquet that looked like the YY7500 only dark green.

I started working as an assistant tennis pro at a private club while using the Pro Kennex Black Ace. The Black Ace was a classic graphite racquet. The Wilson rep came to the club and offered the Pro and I free racquets. He suggested we both use the Wilson's new Pro Staff graphite. I wanted something stiffer so I requested the Wilson Ultra II all graphite stick. I really liked this frame and it was the first midsize frame I used.

After about 5 years at the racquet club I was replaced and took my clients with me. It was 1984 and I started teaching out at a public park. One day a guy stops by and sees me teaching tennis. He convinces me to sign up with a new company to play with and sell Duke racquets. The Duke GT100 was a 95 inch head all graphite racquet. It was much like the Prince Graphite. I was with Duke for about 5 years. I changed later to the Duke Staff 25 an oversize graphite. After that Duke came out with Big Red, a widebody racquet that preceded the Wilson Profile. I loved the Big Red, it was powerful and stiff.. Suddenly my orders with Duke weren't being filled and I was left high and dry. I signed the USPTA contact with Prince and began using the Prince Spectrum Comp 90. It was a good racquet but I just liked the white color. Prince wouldn't let me sell their racquets so I went looking for another company. I found Lobster. Although Lobster wouldn't give me free racquets to use, I could sell them. I used the Lobster Citation Graphite and later the Citation Composite.

Finally in 1990 I hooked up with a major sporting goods company, Spalding. Spalding was making a real effort to join the tennis equipment world. I signed agreements to play with and sell the Spalding tennis racquet line. I started using the Spalding Paradox 100. A mid plus widebody frame with plenty of power. I switched later to the Orbi Tech Extreme 100. This was racquet had 92 percent aspect ratio with is an almost completely round head. It was a widebody with power and the spin garnered with this round head was amazing. Spalding introduced a softer racquet in the Arista. It too was a 100 square inch head but had a separate throat piece that was held to the frame by the strings. It was the most flexible racquet I've ever used and loved the feel. Spalding couldn't make enough progress and scrapped their tennis division.

In 1994 I went with the USPTA Wilson sponsor program and started playing with the Wilson Pro Staff Classic 4.2 midsize. This was stiffer version of the popular Pro Staff Classic 6.1. That lasted barely one year when I met Ron Friedman. Ron was the sole U.S. distributor of Estusa racquets. I tested several of their frames but fell in love with the bright yellow Estusa Pro Legend Classic. One of the best racquets I've ever used. This 97 inch head, solid yet comfortable frame was my favorite. I remember the day I got my first frames, August 31, 1994. Three Pro Legend Classics came to my door the same day as my first daughter was born.

I stayed with Estusa and Ron until Ron left for Wavex and Estusa left the U.S. In 1997 Ron Friedman hooked me up with Wavex. A small company in South Korea that made racquet with waves in the frame to dissipate the vibrations. The best frame they had was the AD 2002 which was all graphite midsize red colored frame. However, I played with the stiffer AD 2010 which again looked an played like the Prince Graphite. Later I switched to a new model, the Wave 3003, again 95" head but had waves on the sides of the frame instead of along the sides. As with Estusa, Wavex USA was sold to a person in Canada. I couldn't get the frames to sell and the cost went way up. Probably because Wavex signed on Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert and the Jensen brothers to huge contacts. The company didn't have the resources and money to pay Chris and Jimmy and eventually went under.

I kept playing with the Wavex until I found a new company to partner with. I bounced around for 2 years without a contact when I ran into Andy Webb from Dunlop. He was willing to give me a shot and signed me on the Dunlop Advisory Staff and given product resale status. With Dunlop I now had a real player in the tennis racquet industry. Dunlop was trying to reestablish itself as one of the premier tennis racquet companies. The racquet I chose was one of their best models, the 300G. Ninety eight inch head size, all graphite with hot melt technology and a feel like no other. As other models were introduced, the 300G was replaced with the M-Fil 3 Hundred. I didn't like the feel of the replacement but did like the new M-Fil 2 hundred. Another midsize, 95 inch frame with tight 18x20 string pattern for more control. Now I am using the Aerogel 2 Hundred. Same as the M-Fil 2 Hundred but with space age Aerogel added to key points for lightweight strength and power.

Doug Hofer, USPTA & Dunlop Advisory Pro

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