Founded in 1881 by the Slazenger brothers, Ralph and Albert, Slazenger is a British brand with quite the legacy in tennis. They’ve been partnered with Wimbledon for more than a hundred years (a feat they hail as “the longest partnership is sporting history”), and they’ve been providing every single tennis ball to the All England Club from 1902 right up to the present day.
When Slazenger started, their balls were made from rubber and wool cloth, which had to be sown together by hand, meaning that no two balls were ever identical. The more modern ball design that everyone recognises only arrived in 1965, with their distinctive yellow colour making its first appearance in 1986.
Of course, Slazenger don’t just make balls, they make rackets too. Fred Perry, Margaret Court, Rod Laver and numerous other tennis legends all won their grand slams with Slazenger rackets. So if you buy a Slazenger racket, you’re investing in a brand with a long and storied tennis history, and you can be confident that you’re getting a quality product as a result. Sadly though, Slazenger aren’t quite the tennis legends that they once were. Over the years they have been steadily out-innovated by their competitors, like Wilson, Prince and Yonex, so they just aren’t on the radar of most players. However, if what you want is an affordable, quality racket that will get the job done, you can’t go far wrong with Slazenger.
Slazenger are all about affordability and solid quality. You get no high-tech carbon composites here, no fancy sounding technologies using trademarked substances originally designed by the military for use in stealth jets. You just get a good, old-fashioned racket that’s great for knocking tennis balls about a court. If you just want to get down the local park for some tennis, and don’t want to take out a bank loan before you get started, Slazenger are as solid as they come.
Unlike a lot of brands, who offer a dizzying array of product lines and distinct models, Slazenger likes to keep things simple. They make four different rackets (in various sizes), and they make those four designs to the best quality they can. We’ll run them down for you here:
Slazenger Smash Junior Tennis Racket
This is the junior version of the Slazenger’s entry level racket, the Smash. Durable, lightweight and extremely forgiving, this is a fantastic choice for juniors. It has a lightweight alloy frame and a lovely cushioned grip, that gives great control and power (considering its size and price). The Smash also comes in a range of sizes and colours, with Slazenger’s trademark puma logo, so that younger players can always find a racket that they’ll love.
The Slazenger Smash Junior is super affordable, but robust enough that it can take a bit of a beating in the hands of a frustrated new player, or from a casual young player who isn’t inclined to treat their tennis racket like a sacred object. The Smash is an ideal transition from a full junior racket to an adult one, without having to shell out vast sums for something high-tech. Practical, functional, and ready for play anywhere, anytime.
A superb, durable racket at a ridiculously low price. Perfect for children just getting into the game, and perfect for parents that don’t want to worry too much about the inevitable chips and dents.
Best for Beginners
The Smash is Slazenger’s entry-level offering and comes complete with a lightweight, tubular aluminium alloy frame and a cushioned grip for greater power and control. Factor in the price and you have an ideal start-up racket for someone who just wants to have a go without investing too much in expensive kit.
You can’t argue with an entry-level racket when it’s this affordable. Light in the hand, and comfortable for casual play. As with all Slazenger’s rackets, this is very solidly made and should last the casual player a good long while.
Best for Intermediate Players
The Slazenger Prodigy Tennis Racket is an ideal choice for beginners thanks to its lightweight graphite alloy frame construction and generous head size (98 square inches). The racket enjoys a cushioned grip on the handle, which allows for firm hold and superb control when moving between forehand and backhand strokes. It also cushions the arm a little from vibrations and impact shocks when the ball is struck. The racket is finished off nicely with distinctive Slazenger puma branding.
As with all Slazenger rackets, this is a really solid build, and at such an affordable price most beginners won’t need better. If you’ve only just got into tennis, you won’t really need all the fancy features that an expensive entry-level racket from a premium brand like Yonex or Volkl will provide. That’s the sort of thing that only advanced players need to worry about. Until you put in the hours practising and are ready to join the tennis elite, the Slazenger Prodigy will amply serve your needs without asking you to break into your life savings to do it.
Best for Pro Players
Of all of Slazenger’s rackets, the Slazenger Pro is the offering that has got them some attention recently. Reviewers rave about its lightness, build quality and feel, and generally seem a bit surprised that Slazenger have produced such a lovely racket to play with. (They also just can’t get over the price.)
It may not have a celebrity endorser, but the Slazenger Pro can go toe-to-toe with the features offered by a lot of the more expensive rackets available on the market, particularly with its lightweight graphite construction (weighing in at a mere 255g) and its soft, comfortable handle. You’ll be able to switch between forehands and backhands with ease, whilst maintaining excellent control throughout. Again, the cushioned handle is a real bonus for anyone prone to wrist or elbow strain. This is a racket that feels great in the hand and is strung with a pro-standard 16×19 string pattern for improved power, precision and spin.
With 100 square inches of surface, the Slazenger pro has a large sweet spot, while its graphite frame keeps it light and responsive. Best of all is the price, which means it can keep up with several far more expensive rackets currently available. With the Slazenger Pro, you can buy a great intermediate quality racket for the kind of price that wouldn’t even buy you a beginner’s racket from Wilson or Yonex. Almost any tennis player, other than someone heading for the pros, should be able to find something to like about this racket.
Owning a Slazenger racket is like buying into a bit of tennis history. If you grew up watching Wimbledon in the summer, then every single ball that you watched being knocked about by one of the pros had a Slazenger logo emblazoned on its side. That’s the way it’s been for this British brand for well over a hundred years.
These days, they may not be the most high-tech manufacturer of tennis rackets, and they certainly don’t have the shiny celebrity endorsements that a lot of buyers have come to expect, but that’s no comment on their quality. Slazenger are still plugging away after more than a century, producing great affordable products for sports enthusiasts everywhere, and their rackets – particularly the Slazenger Pro – are well worth your time.