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Monday, July 18, 2011 Solinco Pro Racquets Bring the Control

Known primarily for their Tour Bite and Barb Wire strings, Solinco has started producing a small line of appropriately named racquets designed for players seeking control and feel. There are currently four models, all essentially named Solinco Pro accompanied by a number. In contrast to the numerical scale used by Volkl where the higher number means lower power and greater control, the Solinco system breaks down to essentially being that the higher number means that the frame is heavier.

Pro 10The current models are the Pro 7, Pro 8, Pro 10, and Pro 10X. The frames all share one mold, coming in with a 98 sq. in. headsize and 18x20 string pattern. In addition, they all feature a near identical color scheme, utilizing a glossy chrome finish at the throat and lower shoulder areas of the frame, as well as the top of the head, with accents at the sides of the head indicating the main technology. Many other companies are going to the extremes in their research and development projects. For example Dunlop borrows from the idea of a shark’s skin and Head utilizes a material that uses selective cross-linking to increase rigidity on faster swings. In comparison, the sole technology from Solinco seems rather mundane.

That technology is listed as Ni-Mesh and appears to be placed along the sides of the head. This Nickel-Mesh composite construction appears to be concentrated at the sides of the head, primarily the three and nine o’clock positions. The wide bands of Ni-Mesh material cover a sizable section of the head, and are designed with one of the most basic principles in mind. The material itself combines carbon yarn with anodized nickel to create a fine mesh construction. When applied with graphite sheets, the strength and stiffness are increased in that area. By applying the mesh at the sides, it helps to stabilize the racquet face, reducing twisting, while offering a nice, solid feel.

So with four racquets being offered, how do you decide which one is right for you? It’s fairly easy given that two of the main decision factors are the same across the line. The main thing to look for is your preferred weight. The lightest model, the Pro 7, comes in at a reasonably light 10 ounces unstrung, while Pro 10 is a fair bit heavier at 11.5 ounces unstrung. We wanted to know all the differences though, so we took them to our trusted Babolat RDC for some additional measurements. All measurements were taken on new racquets freshly strung with NXT 16.

Pro 8Pro 7:
Length: 27in.
Headsize: 98sq. in.
Weight: 304g (10.7 ounces)
Balance: 33.5cm (2 points Head Light)
Swing Weight: 304
Flex: 65
Beam Width: 21mm Constant Beam

Pro 8:
Length: 27in.
Headsize: 98sq. in.
Weight: 320g (11.3 ounces)
Balance: 32.5cm (6 points Head Light)
Swing Weight: 309
Flex: 64
Beam Width: 21mm Constant Beam

Pro 10:
Pro 10X TipLength: 27in.
Headsize: 98sq. in.
Weight: 343g (12.1 ounces)
Balance: 32.6cm (5 points Head Light)
Swing Weight: 331
Flex: 67
Beam Width: 21mm Constant Beam

Pro 10X:
Length: 27.5in.
Headsize: 98sq. in.
Weight 346g (12.2 ounces)
Balance: 33.2cm (5 points Head Light)
Swing Weight: 342
Flex: 69
Beam Width: 21mm Constant Beam

It appears that in an effort to get their products out there amongst the playing public, Solinco has chosen to adopt the route that Babolat used when they first broke into the US market. That method is to offer package deals liberally, focusing on promising and ranked juniors to spread interest in both the racquets and strings. The strings have already gained a sizable following thanks to the success of Tour Bite, which features a square geometry for additional ball bite. Adding to that success is a string that takes that same geometry and adds an axial twist. The result is Barb Wire, played on the ATP by Igor Andreev.

Pro 7Our testers took these frames out for a quick hit, with everyone noting that while the colors looked amazing, we would have preferred a bit more distinction between the frames. In action of course, the first thing you notice is the control, especially with the dense string pattern. The favorite among many of the testers was the Pro 8, which most said reminded them of a Head Radical but with touch firmer feel. Both of the Pro 10 models were noticeably stiffer and did cause one of the testers a bit of discomfort, but it was an overall solid and firm feel without a sense of being unbearably stiff. The most intriguing frame was the Pro 7, which seems almost too light to be a control frame, but we were pleasantly surprised with the maneuverability, making up a bit for the lower power level. The Pro 10X adds one more option to the very small niche of extended length near 12 ounce frames, joining the Pure Storm Tour Plus GT, Head YouTek IG Speed MP 16x19, and Tecnifibre TFight 325XL. Overall, we liked the extra length for serving big, but all of us would need a definite adjustment period to dial in the added length.

Solinco has really produced some solid offerings with classic style and modern improvement. From a tennis purist standpoint, these were definitely a couple of the best feeling frames, calling forth memories of the true classic frames like the Head Classic 600. So if you are in the market for serious control and want that pure feel with just a touch of the modern game, be sure to check out the Solinco Pro line.


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