Wood and Graphite Tennis Rackets: A Comparative Analysis
Tennis racket design is a continuously evolving technology. At one time, the changes took place at a somewhat slower pace than they do today. For nearly a century woodframe tennis rackets were the standard. Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, wooden tennis rackets were supplanted by metaland, subsequently, graphite compositeframes. Graphite tennis rackets offer numerous advantages over wooden ones. Despite the improvement though, tennis racket design continues to advance. Various new innovations include modifications in design engineering, as well as the introduction of new synthetic construction materials.
Tennis racket technologies can be exceedingly complex (4:84). Many of the different developments have actually served to alter the very game itself (5:100). Most of these tennis racket material and design changes have happened over the last 20 or 30 years. In the 1960s, for example, the first metal rackets were introduced. Manufacturers typically molded these from tubular aluminum and steel. Although metal rackets became widely available, their acceptance by tennis players was less than enthusiastic. Thus, the metal rackets never did completely replace traditional laminated woodframe rackets (2:127).
The next major milestone in tennis racket evolution involved racket design. In 1976, Prince Manufacturing introduced the first oversized racket (9:118). Up until that time, wood rackets had generally contained strung areas of about 70 square inches. Increases in size had always been constrained by the wood's strength and weight. If the strung area was made too large, wooden rackets became too weak. Furthermore, most efforts to reinforce the weak woodframes resulted in tennis rackets that were too heavy. In contrast, the high strength to weight ratio of the Prince racket's tubular aluminum enabled the manufacturer to increase its size to 110 square...