12 Best Cheap Tennis Racquets
A buying guide for beginners
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There’s a blush of enthusiasm with any new interest, and sometimes the excitement makes it easy to make expensive mistakes.
Fortunately, taking up tennis doesn’t need to be. You can start up with discount equipment and be playing this afternoon.
Here are our picks for the top 10 affordable tennis racquets in 2022. Keep scrolling to learn more about each racquet.
|#2||Wilson Tour Slam|
|#3||Prince Attack 25|
|#4||Babolat Nadal 26 Junior|
|#5||Wilson Energy XL|
|#7||HEAD Tour Pro|
|#9||HEAD Radical 26 Junior|
|#10||HEAD Ti.Instinct Supreme|
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Click any of the following links of our discount racquet picks to jump to that section:
- Wilson Federer
- Wilson Tour Slam
- Prince Attack 25
- Babolat Nadal 26 Junior
- Wilson Energy XL
- Head Ti.Conquest
- Head Tour Pro
- Wilson Triumph
- Head Radical 26 Junior
- Head Ti.Instinct Supreme
Let’s dive into the details.
Buying a Cheap Racquet
If there’s one great argument for tennis as an addition to your active lifestyle, it may be the start-up affordability offered by entry-level equipment. Unlike football, ice hockey, and even baseball, you need little more than tennis shoes, balls, and a racquet.
Of course, like any sport, top-of-the-line gear can make a big impact on your budget, but are these necessary for the beginner? Many parents have sunk significant funds into sports based on a child’s expressed desire, only to find it was a temporary whim. Used sporting goods stores dot the country as evidence of this.
However, sometimes entry-level equipment interferes with enjoyment and development. A child learning guitar, for example, may be deterred by the poor playability of a cheap instrument. Is it the same for a budding tennis player?
Fortunately, for the potential Federers and Nadals of the world, cheap tennis racquets are viable for those learning the game. Do these compete with the more expensive versions? Of course not. But affordable tennis racquets are more than adequate to promote fundamental skills.
The racquets featured in our buying guide all come in under $40, less than a reasonable pair of tennis shoes suitable for the game. If you or your child decide the sport isn’t right for you, or if your involvement is casual, there’s no great store of cash invested.
What’s more likely to happen once you connect with the game, though, is that your tennis vocabulary develops. You’ll begin to wish your racquet is more capable in ways that suit your game. Start with a pro racquet costing hundreds, and you’ll find matching equipment to style is a pricey consideration. If you’re using a discount tennis racquet to fuel your interest, there’s little lost when it’s time to upgrade.
Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration in favor of inexpensive tennis racquets is the level of performance a good player can achieve with a cheap racquet. Tennis is a sport with an emphasis on sound technique rather than equipment. While better equipment can help improve your performance and refine your skill, affordable gear won’t compromise your ability to learn the fundamentals.
Racquet Attributes to Consider
Perhaps the biggest concern many new players have inevitably surrounds the price vs. value equation. They worry that a cheap racquet will break, create an injury risk or just plain underperform, making it challenging to learn the game.
It’s telling that each of the best tennis racquet manufacturers, those who provide racquets for professional-level players, all have budget tennis racquets on offer. Some, such as the Wilson Advantage racquet, available under $20, is painted to mimic the $200 Wilson Blade. While the similarities in technology and construction end at the paint job, beginning players can often visually emulate their favorites, a great way to build enthusiasm for the sport.
There are, however, physical attributes that match racquets to individual players, regardless of experience and regardless of cost. The demands of your racquet will grow as your ability does, and these features are still the talking points as you develop your game.
One of the most logical places to start when evaluating a new tennis racquet is which size or length you should choose. If you’re an adult, the answer is easy – 27 inches is the standard length, which is a logical starting point and our recommendation.
You will find some extended length racquets up to 29 inches, but we’d recommend you stick with the standard length to start.
If you’re buying for your child, racquet length is a bit more nuanced. Here’s a chart that outlines how to select a racquet based on age and height.
|4 years or younger||40 inches or shorter||19 inches|
|4-5 years||40-44 inches||21 inches|
|6-8 years||45-49 inches||23 inches|
|9-10 years||50-55 inches||25 inches|
|10 or older||55 inches or taller||26 inches|
|Adult||Any height||27-29 inches|
If your child’s in-between sizes as many are, we’d recommend you drop down to the smaller size.
It’s easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed by technical details, and the weight of your racquet is a point on which you may find plenty of contradictory advice. For the newcomer to tennis, I’d recommend ignoring all the advice and choose entirely on feel. When the racquet feels good, the details establish themselves.
Many new players like the feel of a lighter racquet. It’s easy to swing and move, but they’re generally harder to control with less stability. Heavier racquets offer more stability, but in the early stages of your development, your skills minimize the advantages of a heavier racquet.
Distribution of racquet weight comes in three varieties:
- Balanced: Even distribution of weight throughout the racquet.
- Head light: More weight in the handle of the racquet.
- Head heavy: More weight in the head of the racquet.
Head light racquets tend to be heavier, but are easy to maneuver because the majority of the weight is toward the handle. On the other hand, head heavy racquets help give lighter weight racquets an increase in power with the added weight in the head – just like a hammer.
As a beginner, feel should again be your determining factor. As your skills advance, you can dive deeper into the nuances of balance and how it impacts racquet performance.
With some quick measurements of your hand, you can determine the right size grip for your tennis racquet.
Be sure to check out our article on selecting the right grip size for more details. Here’s an overview of the different sizes available for adults:
|US Sizes||European Sizes||Sizes in mm|
|4 inches||0||100-103 mm|
|4 1/8 inches||1||103-106 mm|
|4 1/4 inches||2||106-110 mm|
|4 3/8 inches||3||110-113 mm|
|4 1/2 inches||4||113-118 mm|
|4 5/8 inches||5||118-120 mm|
|4 3/4 inches||6||120-123 mm|
Small grips can stress your hand and forearm but can be increased easily by adding an overgrip or two. Larger grips, on the other hand, can’t be reduced easily, and your hand and arm may be overworked as you try to prevent the racquet from twisting on impact.
All kids racquets use a 4-inch grip size.
Once again, selecting the right head size comes down to feel. Generally, larger heads increase your margin for error and make it easier to hit the ball. They also increase the power of the racquet, which is helpful early on as your technique develops.
You can’t go wrong with a standard-sized racquet, but if a larger size feels right, go for it. For adults, we recommend at least 100 square inches or greater.
Most, if not all, cheap tennis racquets come pre-strung, so you won’t need to worry about selecting strings or figuring out the right tension.
This topic is something that you may wish to leave to you upgrade to your next level racquet. However, here are a few resources if your curious and would like to dive deeper:
- Types of strings
You wouldn’t be the first player to hit the courts without considering your tennis racquet strings other than the fact they are there.
For adults, a key factor in choosing a racquet based on age is matching the racquet to hand size and arm strength. Smaller children require smaller racquets, and as they grow, the options of heavier racquets, larger head sizes, and varied string tension all come into play.
However, as an older player, particularly adult or senior, your choice of racquet may have other considerations. For example, the impact of the sport on your body may be top of mind if your hand, arm, and elbow begin to suffer from your participation.
Where to Buy Racquets
These days, there’s a good chance you’ll research your purchase and shop for the best price racquet online, even if you turn to a brick-and-mortar store for the purchase.
Chances are that the purchase of a cheap tennis racquet is going to be a quick visit to a store or website, perhaps part of a larger, general purchase. The days of intense concentration on each aspect of a racquet lay ahead of you. Consider these popular options for that first, inexpensive tennis racquet:
Tennis specialty retailers are also an excellent source for affordable equipment:
Finally, don’t forget your local tennis shop. You may not pay the lowest price, but the advice could well be worth the extra.
There are often deals available through consignment sales, used and demonstration racquets. You may pay an entry-level price for an intermediate-level racquet.
Reliable Racquet Brands
As with many retail products, tennis racquets invite knock-offs, items made by companies with dubious origins, or quality control procedures. Some of these may indeed manufacture their racquets in the same overseas factories as name brand budget models, but it’s difficult to know for sure.
Stay on the beaten track to assure reasonable quality, no matter how budget you go with your racquet purchase. A few of the biggest names in tennis racquets are:
- Babolat: The oldest manufacturer of racquet sports equipment, dating back to 1875 in Lyon, France.
- Wilson: Starting life in 1913 as a way to use animal by-products from slaughterhouses (the earliest racquet strings were gut), Wilson remained controlled by meatpackers until 1966
- Head: Founded in Maryland in 1950, Head is also a maker of alpine skiing equipment.
- Prince: Taking its name from founding city Princeton, New Jersey in 1970, Prince boasted the early involvement of Howard Head, from the Head Ski Company.
If you’re shopping for kids racquets, it’s a different story. There are lesser-known brands that cater specifically to children and are great options for children.
Cheap Tennis Racquet Buyers Guide
Please note that some racquets may be available in sizes or with options other than reviewed for this guide.
For instance, junior models often come in a range of colors to please a variety of tastes.
There’s arguably no greater name in tennis than that of Roger Federer’s, and it’s a smart move for Wilson to attach his name to this entry-level racquet. Targeted to the adult beginner, this is a medium-weight racquet with a head-light balance.
Grip size is right down the middle at 4 and 3/8ths with an oversized head and several features to enhance stability and control. Though all the choices in our top ten are excellent choices, Wilson’s Federer is at the top of the game.
Wilson Tour Slam
Slightly longer, the Tour Slam is substantial more head-light, so its balance is completely different. Grip size is the same as the Federer, with a lighter weight, so it’s a great contrast between racquet “feel.”
Prince Attack 25
The first junior racquet on our Top 10, the Attack 25-inch, is geared for the junior beginner, in the 9 to 10-year range, or for the smaller older child. Prince makes this in both “girl” and “boy” colors, replacing the Maria Sharapova-inspired Pink Junior model that previously featured.
It’s lightweight and manageable for most beginners, and it comes with a zippered carrying case to build good equipment care habits.
Babolat 2019 Pure Aero Junior
For the child who worships Rafa, this may be the way to go. Heavier and longer than the Prince Attack, the Pure Aero Junior provides a different balance and swing feel, an important contrast for a beginner to experience.
Recommended by the child’s size (up to 4’ 7”) rather than age, it may be a better fit for those who are taller than others their age in the early years.
With a 27-inch length and 9.8-ounce weight, the Ti.Conquest combines a fast swing speed with a rigid titanium alloy frame that’s suitable for a beginner and with some room to grow into the intermediate stage.
The oversized head is forgiving of off-center shots and the Ti.Conquest’s dead zones are comparatively small, making for a good control experience.
Head Tour Pro
With a bit larger head size than the TiConquest at 110 square inches, the Tour Pro has a larger sweet spot, perhaps suited to a new player looking for some extra margin for error and a little extra power without having to work for it. That extra weight moderates arm speed, cutting back on over-hitting.
Head Radical 26 Junior
Perhaps the best choice for the tween-to-teen beginner, the Radical 26 Junior features a slightly shorter than adult length with a reasonable head size. The 8.6-ounce weight is manageable even for those with less-than-average arm strength.
Not only a great beginner’s racquet, but the Radical 26 Junior also makes an ideal transition weapon for the younger intermediate who isn’t quite ready for full-size.
Head Ti.Instinct Supreme
There’s no shortage of options at the budget level for entry-level players. The TI.Instinct is available in a variety of grip sizes over aluminum construction for a good balance of weight and rigidity.
Here are some questions we frequently get from players looking to purchase an inexpensive tennis racquet.
What’s the difference between cheap and expensive racquets?
The main factors that separate cheap racquets from expensive models are the materials used and build quality.
Cheap racquets are typically made from affordable aluminum and feature a basic construction. Expensive racquets, on the other hand, make use of costly materials and a more sophisticated build process.
Will an expensive racquet help me play better?
If you’re just starting, an expensive tennis racquet won’t help you play better than a cheap model. Your money would be better spent on lessons to develop proper technique, which is where you’ll see the most significant improvements.
With that said, beginners tend to benefit from lighter easy-to-maneuver racquets with larger head sizes for added power and a higher margin for error.
How long will my racquet last?
If you’re serious about learning how to play tennis and actively seek to improve your skills, then you’ll likely outgrow your affordable model within a year or two.
However, if your only planning for casual recreational play for fun or exercise, then your racquet can easily last you five or more years. Keep in mind that you’ll want to restring your tennis racquet periodically, which can vary in cost based on the strings you buy and the service charge of the individual stringing for you.
When should I upgrade my racquet?
Before you can reap the benefits of a racquet that complements your playing, though, you need to develop some consistency. Only then will your style of play begin to mature. Once that happens, you can choose a racquet to boost your strong points or bolster your weak ones.
Expect to revisit each of the attributes of racquet design when you’re ready to upgrade your racquet. For many players, the enthusiasm that develops along with their skills spills over into reading and studying aspects of the sport, including how equipment factors can enhance your game.
Have another question that we didn’t answer? Feel free to ask in the comments below.
Not only can you start playing tennis with a cheap racquet, but you also have a wide range of choices. If your local big box store only has one or two options, online retailers are loaded with a wide selection, no matter what your age or inclination.
The best way to fall in love with tennis is to get on the courts and enjoy it first hand. There’s no need to save up for expensive gear, but if you have a little extra to spend, you may want to check our top picks for beginner tennis racquets.
Thanks for stopping by. If you’ve still got questions, you’re in the right place. Use the comments section below to ask about any aspect of the game. Have you recently bought an inexpensive tennis racquet that you love? Tell us about it!
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