What goes into making a tennis racket? A lot, as it happens! Tennis365’s Kevin Palmer sat down with the Mantis Sport to learn more about the process.
The battle to produce the perfect tennis racket is a never-ending challenge, with new technology being pumped into the production of frames that differ in weight, balance, size and feel.
Tennis365 tested out the impressive Mantis Pro 310 III, which is a great racket to pick for intermediate and advanced club players looking to take their game to the next level.
The Pro 310 III racket was voted ‘best for feel’ in TennisHead magazine and as we sat down with Martin Aldridge from Mantis Sport, he gave us an exclusive insight into the process behind the development of a racket that is ready to be used by the top players in the game.
How does the process of developing a new racket begin and how many people are involved in that process?
A product brief is submitted to the research and development team. Initial plans would be built around the shape of the frame (head size, beam width). CAD drawings will then be used to create the finer details of this shape. Once approved a mould will be opened. We can then work on more detailed specifications – string pattern, weight, balance, stiffness.
What is the next stage of development?
Once the product is available we will conduct extensive testing in a number of countries to ensure we have exactly what we’re looking for. We will feedback to the research and development team if amendments are needed and continue this iterative process until we have exactly what we require. At this stage, the product is signed off and then we will arrange for it to be professionally photographed. We also sit down with our design team to discuss exactly how we want the product to look based on our target audience. At the same time we will also start working on any additional support materials such as packaging, frame inserts, headcovers and text for our website.
What should a club player be looking for when they pick their next racket?
This is a very difficult one to answer as it will vary from player to player. It will depend on playing style and physical size. Some rackets are more powerful than others but power is not the be-all and end-all in a tennis racket as you also need control. If you have a faster swing then control will be more important whereas if you have a slower, more compact swing then you’ll need more power from the racket. Weight will also play a part in what works for different players. Normally lighter rackets are designed to have larger head sizes and be more powerful to compensate for players with slower swings.
How hard is it for a brand like Mantis to compete with the established racket makers like Babolat, Head and Wilson?
That is a real challenge as there are a number of established brands with huge budgets. This means that they can spend a lot on advertising and on paying players to use their products. We try to create eye-catching cosmetics so that players like the look of the rackets and this makes them pick them up to take an initial look. We also try and support coaches so that our rackets get seen by these key influencers.
Would club players be making a mistake if they pick a racket just because their favourite player uses it?
To be honest, yes they could be. At the highest level rackets are normally customised so the racket you purchase in-store is not the same specifications as your favourite Tour player. It is more to do with associating that player with a particular brand.
What technology has gone into the Mantis Pro 310 and how has it evolved from previous versions?
Our rackets are made from the highest quality Japanese carbon fibre in the market. We also make all of our rackets in one of the top factories in the world where they also produce for a number of the highest-profile brands.
Do we need to make it less complicated for amateur players to select a racket and how can we do that?
It can be confusing when selecting a new racket as there are so many options out there. The best way is to try a racket before you buy it and some retailers do offer this service. We work with coaches who often have demo rackets available too. As a rule, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model when selecting the ideal racket so it does come down to trial and selecting your perfect ‘set-up’ which also includes the strings and string tension.
Mantis offers a range of racket, balls and grips for players of all standards and you can view their range here – https://www.mantis-sport.com/tennis/tennis-rackets.html